California Supreme Court backs gay marriage! and other news, too

Whoa! It seems I was totally wrong when I expected the California Supreme Court to uphold the ban on gay marriage. Instead, they struck down the ban as unconstitutional, allowing same sex marriage in the state. Conservatives are already rallying to try to get a constitutional amendment banning it on the ballots in November, but it seems pretty unlikely that they’d be able to get the two thirds majority needed to pass it. Edit: it only takes a simple majority, which seems much easier. I don’t know if it is likely to pass. Hooray, progress!

Also, there is currently some finegaling in Congress these days over funding the Iraq invasion. It would be awesome if the legislators finally grew a spine and started passing bills that would, you know, stop wars of aggression and ban torture and provide education and medical benefits to veterans (admittedly, that last one is not related to Congress, but it’s despicable enough to mention along with the rest of this crap). but unfortunately I doubt this will actually go anywhere, and even if it did, Bush would almost certainly veto any such measure.

In natural disaster news, the cyclone that hit Burma and the earthquake in China have each left tens of thousands dead. Burma is in trouble because it is a poor country that doesn’t have the infrastructure to help the refugees or to rescue the people still trapped. China is in trouble because the areas worst hit are in hard-to-reach mountainous areas, and the earthquake coupled with heavy rains the next day wiped out most of the roads and airports, so it’s hard to send aid to the victims.

Hooray, getting my blog back onto the “Civil Liberties and World News” bit, rather than the “and computer science and stuff” part. I had begun to wonder if I needed to change the title of this blog.

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  1. Conservatives are already rallying to try to get a constitutional amendment banning it on the ballots in November, but it seems pretty unlikely that they’d be able to get the two thirds majority needed to pass it.

    You need more signatures on a petition to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot as opposed to an ordinary statute, but either one only needs a simple majority to pass once on the ballot. This is a dumb rule.

    The group with the constitutional amendment only needed ~700k signatures and they turned up with about 1.1 million which are now being checked by the Secretary of State for validity. Most commentators seem to think that there will be enough valid signatures, and the thing will be on the ballot in November.

    I am worried, but I am heartened by a few sweeping generalizations:

    A. Public opinion has changed a lot in the past 8 years. Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, and California adopted domestic partnerships, and somehow we all survived; I think people forgot they were supposed to be against it. Also, a lot of people have died and a lot of people have turned 18. Young people are going to turn out for Obama and vote No on the amendment.

    B. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already said that he respects the court’s decision and that he opposes the amendment. It may be strange, but I really think this has the potential to sway a lot of fence sitters, especially pro-business type Republicans that are not all that socially conservative.

    C. It’s a constitutional amendment, not a statute. People will hear a lot about “do we want to enshrine discrimination in the Constitution?” Hell, all the presidential candidates have said that at one time or another (even though it was in reference to the US Constitution, the perception will probably be the same.)

    D. If the court does not stay the judgment (and I really don’t think it will,) then a bunch of people will have married by November. This has two effects: (1) knowing a gay person that is married will make you much more likely to support gay marriage, and (2) people will essentially be voting to take marriage and rights away from their fellow citizens after the fact, which I think is conceptually very different from voting to prevent a group from doing something before anything has happened.

    I have high hopes for the ballot measure to fail in November. And if it does, it will be very hard for people to claim that the policy does not represent the will of the people. As you said: Hooray, progress!

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