This week, the California State Supreme Court upheld the results of the 2008 Proposition 8 referendum, which amended the state constitution to state that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The plaintiffs argued that Proposition 8 was in violation of the equal protection clause of the California constitution, meaning that Proposition 8 was a revision of the constitution and not an amendment, and therefore its passage had been invalid (revising the state constitution is a different process than amending it). They also argued that the protection of minorities was the job of the judiciary, which could not be overturned by referendum or legislation, and therefore Proposition 8 violated the separation of powers doctrine.
The court disagreed, saying that a revision of the state Constitution would require a re-working the entire document, and therefore Proposition 8 was an amendment. They also stated that the judiciary can only interpret the laws and constitution. Since Proposition 8 changed the constitution, it therefore changed what the judiciary had to work with when they defended minority rights and therefore does not violate the separation of powers. The court also ruled that same-sex marriages which were issued before Proposition 8 was passed will still be valid.
Marriages in the United States have always been issued by the state. Therefore, decisions as to who is allowed to be married and who isn’t are the prerogative of the state. California and 28 other states have held referendums to decide the issue, and in almost every instance the voters have decided that homosexual marriage is not something that the state should recognize.
Proposition 8’s passage has unleashed a lot of venom from homosexual activists, which has been detailed in other posts on this blog. It has generated much more venom than the 28 other states that have passed constitutional amendments banning homosexual marriage. Why is this? I think the answer lies in California’s reputation as a liberal and pro-homosexual state. If homosexual marriage can be banned by popular vote in California, then it will probably be banned almost everywhere that it gets put up for a vote.
That’s the real issue – Proposition 8’s passage has show how little popular support there is for legal homosexual marriage in the United States.