May 25th, 2009
08:04 PM ET

Decision day in California

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/05/california.same.sex/art.prop8.for.cnn.jpg]
Joneil Adriano
AC360° Producer

On Tuesday, the eyes of the nation will be watching California, during what is being billed as the "Day of Decision" by marriage equality activists all across the land. Why? Because the California Supreme Court is expected to issue its highly anticipated ruling on whether or not Proposition 8, the controversial ballot initiative which amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage, should be upheld or invalidated.

After the oral arguments in March, many court watchers predicted that the Supreme Court would respect the will of the voters and allow Prop. 8 to stand. If that is indeed the case, those who support same-sex marriage will hold protests across the country. If the justices surprise everyone by overturning it, those protests will become celebrations.

For those on both sides of the issue, the stakes are high. For one thing, there are an estimated 20,000 gay couples who are, for now, legally married in the state. Will the court allow those marriages to continue, or will they be forcibly annulled?

Also, California is the biggest state in the union in terms of population. Whichever side wins tomorrow will claim a big victory - and momentum.

But taking a step back for a moment, it does seem as if the train has already left the station. Since the California court took up this issue, three other states have begun granting same-sex couples the right to marry: Iowa, Vermont, and Maine. New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey are poised to follow.

The Golden State has had a reputation for being a trend setter on policy matters over the years, but on this issue, at least, it seems lagging. Northeastern states are the ones driving the agenda now.

In deed, a new front has already been opened up in Massachusetts, which started performing the first same-sex marriages five years ago. There, a lawsuit filed on behalf of 19 gays and lesbians - including the widower of Gerry Studds, the first openly gay Congressman - challenges provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibit the federal government from recognizing lesbian and gay couples.

This lawsuit alleges that the law discriminates against married lesbian and gay couples by denying them rights like Social Security spousal benefits, family medical leave, and the ability to file taxes jointly.

No doubt challenges to another DOMA provision - that which allows states to deny recognition to legally performed same-sex marriages in other states - are in the works. President Obama has said he would like to see DOMA repealed.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to underplay the importance of a California victory for supporters of marriage equality. They want it just as badly as their opponents.

But these days, it does seem that proponents of traditional marriage are the ones who need it more. For more than a decade, they have marched across the country easily passing one same-sex marriage ban after another. But that movement seems to have now stalled, and marriage equality activists are the ones on the offensive.

soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. mercybrown

    Gay marriage sould be ban. Is abomination unto God.

    is still amazed me why it should be allowed at the first place.

    Even if they win in court, we should still apply.

    Those people practising it is hooligans.


    May 26, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  2. Rasmussen

    Clearly a liberal news organization is represented here. Those who support traditional marriage are in far greater number than the opposition, yet the fringe of extremism is what is represented here. How unfortunate it is that our society sees basic morality in a completely "new" way. It's a more "enlightened way" as if all the ages past have been somehow misinformed and wrong. No matter how you look at it, homosexuality, adultery, pedophilia, and any other moral degenerative action is wrong, period. It comes down to this; People wanting to be accepted for their immoral and self gratifying actions. Personal accountability is a thing of the past, as so will our great country. Watch and learn as this trend continues.

    May 26, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  3. Bob in Boise

    Only a vague allusion is made in the article to the 29 or 30 states that have passed state constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The vast majority of this nation (including California) believes in and upholds traditional marriage. Genderless marriage is in almost every case where it has been legalized a creation of judges legislating from the bench. The harm that genderless marriage will do to freedom of speech and religion is bad enough. The harm it will do to children who have a right to a mother and a father will be even greater. I understand that traditional marriages individually are not always perfect but that doesn't mean the institution is flawed. Genderless marriage will never be marriage, even if lawmakers or judges succeed in redefining it to say it is. Two women together or two men together will never create a baby. Any children they have will be the result of a third party who is the natural parent of the child they have. How that benefits that child is beyond my comprehension. Ultimately, the whole marriage debate isn't about marriage at all; it's about power and whether or not this country will allow a small minority to dictate to the vast majority. Fair minded people, whether heterosexual or homosexual, should be concerned if that is allowed to happen.

    May 26, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  4. Rosie

    Forget about the marriage issue, Californians are risking losing their freedom if this passes, by a court that can ignore the will of the people and their right to ammend their own constitution.
    Hello tyranny.

    May 26, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  5. Elder Jane

    I'm all for marriage rights for all citizens. I'm also not sure that referenda are the right way to make law (couldn't voters approve all kinds of unconstitutional measures?)

    The question is, what are the legal grounds for the California Supreme Court to overturn a voter referendum? How will the Court make its legal case without legislating (we'd then have everyone – the voters and the courts legislating, when it's supposed to be the duly elected legislators and governor who make law)

    May 26, 2009 at 9:55 am |
  6. Carol in San Francisco

    I read a comment that someone posted AGAINST gay marriage saying, if we approve gay marriage, what is next rights for incest or pedophiles? Someone who was FOR gay rights said two consenting adults should have the right to choose as they please, they were against pedophiles because that is between an adult and a minor. Yet, they didn't care if a brother and a sister wanted to be married because if they were consenting adults, who is he to judge.

    That is when I made up my mind to vote YES ON PROP 8. See how quickly this person was to back up incest, because of his/her "whatever floats your boat" attitude, and his/her "it doesn't affect me." What will be next? We as a society have lost our morals and values.

    May 26, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  7. Jeremy Young

    Just as Roe vs. Wade, gay marriage is another prime example of why there needs to be a seperation between Church and State. Given our country may have been founded on the Christian Chuch, but what we have became now is so much more. As long as we allow religon to play any part in our government we will continue to fall behind. When removed from the equation what valid rational does one have to not allow Gay Marriage? Gay men and women pay taxes as Americans, defend our country as Americans, and contribute to our progression in every facet of growth as a Country and culture. When one adopts this perspective it makes it impossible to defend measures such as Prop 8, making it no different then prohibiting equal rights to persons of color or women, which was also once defended using the "Good Book" as the primary rational. We have managed to progress past this backward thinking and I have faith that we will move past issues such as Prop 8. I only hope that it is within my lifetime.

    May 26, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  8. Ann S. Robison

    Same sex marriage is not the law which God intended for his people
    to live. It is that simple. If some choose that way of life, that is their choice. And some day they have to answer for it. In the meantime, we do not have to accept it. We do not have to bend to their(gays)choice
    and change our society to acommodate their decisions. It is wrong and the gays know it. They should make their own way and not expect
    the rest of us to agree with them. They know what they are doing is the
    wrong way, but they insist on having their way. Therefore, they have to
    suffer the consequences. I don't know what else to say. It is quite

    May 26, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  9. Randy

    It astounds me to hear over and over people saying that rights have been taken away from Gays and Lesbians by not allowing them to marry each other. The civil rights argument is a total deception on the part of gay activists in an attempt to confuse the issue and convince people that those who choose to live that lifestyle are somehow being discriminated against. People who chose to live the gay and lesbian lifestyle have always had the right to marry, just not to each other. How can you take away a right that has never been given?

    Marriage between a man and a woman has always been the norm and, whether anyone likes to or wants to admit it or not, the only marriage sanctified by God. Nowhere in the scriptures, or in any authentic historical document, do we find God's acceptance or endorsement of homosexual relationships in general, let alone marriage. To the contrary we only find condemnation of homosexual practices.

    Open acceptance of a lifestyle that has been condemned by God will only serve to destroy our nation. The hand of God was recognized by our founding fathers and the writers of all 50 state constitutions. Should we continue down the path of ignoring that God, who has blessed and preserved us a nation, and continue to openly accept and promote abominable lifestyle practices and activities, we will only bring down the wrath of God upon us. How can we expect God's blessings upon us as individuals and especially as a nation if we do not live in accordance with his commandments?

    May 26, 2009 at 5:43 am |
  10. Álex De la torre

    As someone who volunteered, gave money, and participated in the rallies againts Prop 8 here in Los Angeles, I can tell you that I'll be more than glad to have the CA Supreme Court UPHELD the marriage ban. It will only wake up, fuel, and encourage this generation even more to stand against discrimination.

    May 26, 2009 at 4:50 am |
  11. Horace Puntar

    I think it's an open and shut case. You can't hold a vote on something that discriminates by sex/race/religion/etc.

    May 26, 2009 at 4:21 am |
  12. Elaine

    If straight, traditional, Godfearing couples want to defend marriage DON'T GET DIVORCED! I cannot be held responsible for your inability to have a good marriage. Frankly, with a 50% failure rate it's befuddling that anyone would want to fight for it, let alone defend it, including gays.

    May 26, 2009 at 4:10 am |
  13. Drew Rydell

    I live in South Africa (where same sex marriage is legal) and am constantly amazed at how this issue is still being debated. In a country where our history has been scarred by hate and discrimination, I believe we have moved on to create a society that is accepting of all people irrespective of race, gender or sexual orientation. If anything, our country thrives and is stronger thanks to our diversity. Isn't it time America did the same?

    May 26, 2009 at 3:52 am |

    I think the entire flap is over one word-using the word MARRAIGE. I do think that it should be reserved for a man and a woman {and I am not Miss California} It is a very spiritual union and how God intended. However– we have people among us who did not ask to be born with more estrogen or more testosterone and they are genetically gay. Teaching Sunday School with 3 yr olds–I had 2 boys who were very feminine yet very bright and they both grew up to be gay. These gay people want some degree of the American Dream and if they can select another NAME other than marriage– I think they should get every right that the hetrosexual population has by law. Then if one is ill and needs to be with thier partner or make decisions at thier death– I would call it BOUND. Would the gay/lesbian people be happy with saying we are getting Bound to each other? Just reserve the word Marriage for those made ONE in eyes of God. Enact Laws where people can get legally Bound and enjoy every legal right that married men and women have. Just my input~

    May 26, 2009 at 3:05 am |
  15. Chuck from Denver

    The voters have spoken. It is democracy at work. This is why we can have peace and the rule of law in this country. Please respect this important process - voting.

    The voters should not be disenfranchised by the judiciary. If the side that lost the vote is not satisfied, they may certainly put a new measure on the ballot, and try again. I think we would all feel better if our votes counted.

    May 26, 2009 at 2:28 am |
  16. Rosa Wallace

    Gay marriage will never be a threat to my way of life, or my marriage, or my income or my well being. Gay marriage should be approved. I am a heterosexual female and my husband and I are for equal justice for all. We are living in te 21st century now, and some people want to bring us all down to th dark ages. Wake up.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:50 am |
  17. eve

    Even if it is legalized, it is still wrong, and it always will be–and the majority of Americans agree.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:43 am |
  18. IRENA

    My concern is the way gay marriages will affect our young people minds.
    How can they know what is normal and what is not .
    All these supporters of same sex marriages will not be alive today if the normal parenting had not given them birth.
    The choses of individuals to have friends , and how they get involve with them , should be their privet life and not a influence on the large society
    that want to keep strong families and protect them from confusion.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:26 am |
  19. Chris Fox

    If anyone thinks that national equality in marriage remains decades off let them take note of the past few months; with four states legalizing gay marriage, including Iowa, and with an activist judge nowhere in sight, there has NOT been the great "back;ash" of outrage that the social conservatives have been smugly predicting. On the contrary, we have had a great national yawn. Gays are too familiar now, and there won't be enough people ready to take a stand against equal rights anymore, and those who do are mostly repellant 21-percenters who will be the best argument against their own positions

    May 26, 2009 at 1:17 am |
  20. Jim in Rochester

    The writer is correct. The tide has already turned in favor of equal marriage rights all across the country. It's coming, regardless of which way the CA court rules.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  21. Cathy

    "The Golden State has had a reputation for being a trend setter on policy matters over the years, but on this issue, at least, it seems lagging."

    Ah, here's an unbiased article! By this reasoning, Utah must be incredibly progressive, since they had polygamy before they joined the union, and let's face it, if same-sex couples have the right to marry, what possible justification can there be for legally discriminating against polygamy? And check out the legal age of marriage in various states.

    In the past, and currently in several states (and in Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legal for a few years) cousin marriages are legal. In Sweden, half-siblings can marry. So why not siblings? Birth defects? So what? Are we going to test every couple who gets married to see if they might have a higher chance of producing "damaged" children?

    You wonder how this issue might affect society and our understanding of the marriage and family? Use your imagination–if any one of these possibilities doesn't trouble you, try combining them, because that will have to be legal too. Sometimes slippery slope is a fallacy–sometimes it's just reality.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  22. John

    I personally agree with Rob in Denver, gays having the right to marry is not going to affect society in terms of "making" straight people gay. But what I fear is that the courts decisions (appointed decisions not voted by the people, for the people decisions) may become law and many seem to increasingly find this o.k. One day, during a presidential election, is the highest court going to go against the vote of the people and "decide" the loser of the vote is actually the winner, because the majority of that court is ideologically aligned with the minority who want the loser to win? What's the point of showing up at the polls?

    May 26, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  23. Jerry

    The Gays already have exactly the same marriage rights as we Straights: any American citizen has the right to marry anyone they wish of the opposite sex as long as that person 1)agrees to marry them, 2)is legally competent to enter into a marriage, 3)is not already legally married, 4)is of legal age or, barring that, of the state's minimum age with parental consent. The "right" they have is identical to the "right" we have.

    We shouldn't have to change the meaning of a word – nay, of an entire institution – because a small minority of people want it so. If homosexuality is a choice, they choose it knowing full well the consequences of that choice. If it is genetic it then becomes just another illness, a disease, syndrome, or condition just like Multiple Sclerosis, Tourette's, Down Syndrome, etc. Any genetic condition which causes a biological entity to perform or function in any manner that is not the proper performance or function of that entity is a disease. The only real difference between them if homosexuality is genetic is that the others mentioned are DISABLING diseases and, as such, entitle their sufferers to rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Nowhere in the Constitution will you find the phrase "sexual preference", nor will you find "sexual orientation". The Founding Fathers would've been appalled at the very idea. Nowhere does our law say we have to tailor our society around a few people's sexual deviance. Perhaps one day the majority in this country will think like you do but until that day the current majority opinion on this issue is the right one, or do you not believe in democracy?

    May 26, 2009 at 1:14 am |
  24. Nikone

    The government should only recognize civil unions. There should be no mention of sexes in these unions, just consenting adults. Even polygamist weddings would be ok some say, and yes maybe, so what? Ever see a kid messed up because they had too many dedicated parents? Me neither.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:13 am |
  25. Christopher

    Rob in Denver, you are wrong. Allowing gay marriage does make thousands of teenagers across the country suddenly say, hey I may be gay. Institutionalization breeds acceptability.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:13 am |
  26. CeCe

    Why do homosexuals think they are SO special? Why do we have to hear that homosexuals are normal, while Christians are treated like KKK members for not wanting to give special rights to homosexuals? And yes I'm calling it special rights, because thats what it is. You don't give everyone the right to marry because of who they are attracted to. The dictionary definition of a marriage is a man and a woman. It's special rights to give homosexuals the right to marry and not give multi-partner partners the right to marry. or people who are attracted to an animal, and no, i'm not saying its the same thing, but all categories are receiving special rights if one gets to marry and the other doesn't, because marriage has never been defined in those ways.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:10 am |
  27. Mike, Chicago

    to Rob in Denver – Gay marriage is simply absurd. It is like when Indiana tried to define PI to be exactly 3 instead of 3.14159... Gay marriage is like saying 1+1 no longer equals 2. Two males cannot reproduce, two females cannot reproduce, but a male and female can reproduce and live together as a family. How am I supposed to explain to the children why two men are pretending to be a family?
    Those under 30 have grown up with TV shows like 90210 telling them they can't help being born that way. Those over 30 know they aren't born that way but choose to live their perverted lives. Gays will never be equal even if they do get gay marriage passed from the simple fact that they are not normal and know they aren't normal because they cannot reproduce.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:10 am |
  28. Samuel

    How does the same sex marriage tear the fabric of society? I think the question ignores the fact that the fabric is being torn apart when a man annouces to his family he is a gay. Becoming a gay will tear apart people from one another. I guess it matters little whether the gay relationship is recognized as marriage by law or not. The fabric is already torn apart. People do not naturally accept gay marriage as an alternative to hetero sexual marriage. It can be forced upon people by court decisions. But it will never be accepted as something natural.

    Society torn apart cannot last very long. Homo-sexuality is as ancient as bible story itself. History tells us that every civilization that recognized homo-sexuality fell apart soon after.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:10 am |
  29. Trevor

    My thought has been a sort of scenario:
    If they rule that Prop 8 stands (meaning no Gay Marriage) but the 18,000 marriages are equal, wouldn't that stand as unequal and go against the equal protection under the Constitution (state or federal)?

    I am firmly in support of Gay Marriage, just curious about the what if?

    May 26, 2009 at 1:07 am |
  30. Don in California

    Morals and personal philosophies aside, a country that says a substantial percentage of its population is legally unequal to the rest of its population – on religious principles – is not honoring the spirit of the country that fought for freedom from religious persecution two hundred years ago.

    America is the land of possibility.

    If tolerance is unpatriotic, we had better reexamine other "social deviants" like protestants, puritans, blacks, atheists, and the all-encompassing category of "heretics," who count, among their numbers, such inconsequential heathens as Nicolaus Copernicus, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Jesus Christ.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:04 am |
  31. martin0641

    I like watching the opposition try to come up with coherent answers as to why any of this matters at all. Obviously they don't want to admit that it's a simple wedge ploy to divide the uneducated/religious and keep them cheerleading for their "team" instead of cheerleading for "America" and the idea of freedom it was based on.

    I wish people could properly segment things that they think it's ok for THEM to do from what is ok for other people to make personal choices about. That is the freedom this country was founded on. We need to get back to that.

    The simple fact is, in this country, we are supposed to have the right to do anything that is not covered in a law that specifically states we cant do that particular thing or class of things; and we are SUPPOSED to have REAL GOOD reasons to tell people what they can't do because it deprives someone else of life and liberty, and their own pursuit of happiness. Gay rights, drug laws, prostitution laws, and blue laws don't meet that mark.

    As time has passed people have forgotten that, and they think "America" is whatever they personally view as "correct". It's sad really.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:03 am |
  32. abebe woldesemayat

    If there is no absolute moral values, then why we say no to POLYGAMY and Prostitution but try to allow sodomy to prevail. Homosexual marriages should not be allowed in this country just as polygmay or prostitution because both are moral abominations. But if we allow one, then we have no legal grounds to say no to the others.

    May 26, 2009 at 1:01 am |
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