Today, the California state supreme court cut the difference and upheld Proposition 8, which returned the recognized marriage between one man and one woman. Also, the same court upheld the 14,000 to 18,000 same-sex marriages that occurred between their decision last year allowing same-sex marriage and this decision.
It was the right thing to do and correct according the the California constitution.
The decision to uphold Prop. 8 was by a vote of 6-1. That included three of the justices that ruled there was a mystical right to same-sex marriage in the first place. Those included the chief justice, Ronald George, justice Joyce Kennard and Kathryn Werdegar joined in the majority opinion. Justice Carlos Moreno was the lone dissenter. On the separate issue of whether or not the same-sex marriages performed would still be legal and recognized, the decision was unanimous.
The troubling aspect is that the supreme court was tone deaf to reality and set themselves up for this decision. But worse, they did not stay the original ruling which would have avoided the secondary question as to the validity of the marriages that took place. Thus, many people in California and from other parts of the United States came here in good faith to marry their same-sex partners and now are in a kind of sort of legal limbo.
What the court recognized is that the power to actually change the constitution belongs to the people. That was the thrust of what chief justice George wrote in the decision:
"All political power is inherent in the people. The sole, albeit significant, exception that the designation of 'marriage' is ... now reserved for opposite-sex couples."
It needs to be noted that there was noting to deny the generous benefits that same-sex couples enjoy nor to reject those marriages that have already been performed since last year.
But some people, such as the Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. John Bruno, does not understand that the people, within limits, have the right to amend the state constitution. Look at this little ditty in his statement regarding the decision:
Sadly enough, a small majority - 52 percent of voters - was able to alter the constitution of the great state of California. The initiative process wrests away from the legislature and the courts the ability to legislate and affirm justice.
First, Bishop Bruno, with all due respect, this could have passed by one vote and it would be a majority and thus the will of the people. The reason that there is an initiative process in the first place is because there had been abuse by the legislature. And, the legislative process does need to be reigned in and that was the wisdom of allowing for these matters to be put to a vote of the people. And, most important is that it is not the role of the courts to legislate of affirm justice. Their sole job, especially a state supreme court justice, is to rule whether said case is constitutional or not. Period. End of story.
But, at the end of the day, the California state supreme court made the right decision and puts this right back squarely on the people to decide. If those who advocate same-sex marriage want to get enough signatures and have a vote to repeal Prop. 8, get at it. And if it were to pass, I would respect that as the will of the people. Period. But in this state, we do get to determine how the debate will go. And it is at our will, the people.