D. Herbert

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Stupid, Shameless S.F. Chron

Californians overwhelmingly passed a statewide ban on gay marriage in 2000, barring the state of California from recognizing non-heterosexual marriages performed in or outside of the state: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." The state legislature sent a bill to Governor Schwarzenegger that would have recognized gay marriages. This bill was unconstitutional because voter initiatives cannot be overturned by normal laws. The governor properly vetoed that bill, showing respect for our state constitution and the rule of law in general.

(non-stupid) News analysis from the S.F. Chron:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision Wednesday to veto a historic same-sex marriage bill was based on the plain language of a ballot measure that Californians passed 5 1/2 years ago.

Proposition 22, approved by 61 percent of the voters in March 2000, declared, in full: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.'' Because it was passed by initiative, it can't be amended without another public vote, under state constitutional rules that protect the public's right to make laws at the ballot box.

In announcing his planned veto through a spokeswoman, Schwarzenegger said any attempt by the Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage would conflict with Prop. 22.
The San Francisco Chronicle, of course, overwhelmingly supports the bill, our constitution and the will of the voters be damned. You see, they claim, Prop 22 only affects out-of-state gay marriages, and thus has no bearing on marriages performed inside the state. They base this extremely dubious claim on the location at which Prop 22's critical text was inserted. Debra Saunders writes:
What's more, AB849 is dishonest in that it pretends to exist outside of Proposition 22. Leno has long argued that Proposition 22 only addresses out-of-state marriages because the measure's authors inserted their language into Section 308.5 of the state's family law code, which addresses out-of-state marriages.

Baloney. And Leno knows that is not the way California voters saw it. Prop. 22 stated, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Voters didn't care which statute it amended; they wanted to send a clear message about their opposition to same-sex marriage.
She didn't just make this up, there are actually people publicly putting their name to it. Where is this claim made? In the text of the bill itself! (At (3)(k) via PhoBlogger)

The Chron editorializes:
The question should not be whether the public supports a marriage law that enshrines discrimination against gays and lesbians in myriad ways -- including the deprivation of about 1,000 federal rights and responsibilities. The question is whether the state's leaders have the fortitude to risk their standing for the cause of equality -- by challenging discrimination with all available political and legal tools.
Note the spin: upholding our constitution is conflated with pandering to the majority. Pathetic. Any question of whether the measure itself is unconstitional is deliberately avoided (except to relay Schwarzenegger's spokesperson's comments).

In case there is any doubt, I rounded up a few contemporary quotes from the SF Chron. They show that no reasonable person thought that prop 22 was only about out-of-state marriages:

Bay Area Defiant In Its Support For Gay Marriage
State polls show region's voters stand alone in opposing Prop. 22
Don Lattin, Chronicle Religion Writer
Wednesday, March 1, 2000
"That March 7 ballot measure seeks to reaffirm the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

Christian Right Ready for Push To the Polls
Impetus is McCain, marriage measure
Don Lattin, Chronicle Religion Writer
Saturday, March 4, 2000
"Proposition 22, the ballot measure designed to prevent gay marriage"

Lots of Reasons For State's Voters To Head for Polls
Greg Lucas, Sacramento Bureau Chief
Tuesday, March 7, 2000
"Proposition 22, a measure intended to prevent California from recognizing same-sex marriages."

Californians OK Gay-Marriage Ban -- Casinos Approved on Indian Land
Greg Lucas, Lynda Gledhill, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
Wednesday, March 8, 2000
"Sacramento -- Voters yesterday overwhelmingly approved an emotionally charged initiative that bans recognition of same-sex marriage in California.
"Proposition 22 led by a wide margin even though opponents said it was an unnecessary wedge issue because no state allows same-sex marriages."

Thursday, March 9, 2000
"THE OVERWHELMING approval of Proposition 22, the ban on gay marriage, makes it plain how the public feels on the narrow topic."

Gay Marriage Ban Pleases Leader of Mormon Church
But opponents of measure say passage isn't all bad news
Elaine Herscher, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, March 9, 2000
"Voters in Tuesday's election approved Proposition 22 by 61 to 39 percent, a lopsided victory for those seeking to reinforce the law that makes civil marriage legal only between a man and a woman."

Bay Area Voters Are State's Contrarians
Some winning measures lost big here
Carl Nolte, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, March 10, 2000
"Proposition 22, the initiative that defined marriage"

Getting Right On Knight
Monday, March 13, 2000
"Most propositions seek to change something; this one sought to keep things precisely as they are."
"The proponents of Prop. 22 were careful to say that they were not against giving gay people in loving partnerships legal and contractual protection."

Sunday, March 19, 2000
"Voters in California last week overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative banning gay marriage, joining some 30 other states in declaring that, to be recognized legally, a ``marriage'' must be a union between a man and a woman"
(SF Chron quoting the Boston Globe)

Gay-Marriage Battle Was Lost, But the War Is Far From Over
Sunday, March 19, 2000
"CALIFORNIA VOTERS may have rejected gay marriage"

The Vermont Solution
Monday, March 20, 2000
"California's Proposition 22, which reaffirmed the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman"

Domestic Partner Rights OKd by Assembly Panel
Greg Lucas, Sacramento Bureau Chief
Wednesday, March 29, 2000
"...voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22, which prevents California from legally recognizing same-sex marriages."

There are two unfortunate outcomes here: one is that respect for our constitution is tarnished. Even though it has been upheld by Arnold, a greater number of Democrats than before were willing to ignore it. That's major.

The second is that gay marriage opponents will use this issue to bring yet another intitiative to the polls--this time aiming to enshrine a ban on gay marriage in the constitution itself, which will be even harder for gay marriage proponents to overturn. Do I think they are wrong to do this? Insofar as I think gay marriage should be legal, yes. Insofar as to whether their fears of a legislative/judicial end-run around prop 22 are justified, no, they are not wrong. I hope this initiative appears on the ballot and is defeated, creating the momentum for an initiative to overturn 22.

If we didn't have a Republican governor today, I might be blogging about "post-constitutional California politics," without hyperbole.


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