As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Marriage Ruling Fallout

Yesterday's historic ruling defending marriage from double standards and discrimination, has created wide reaction across the political spectrum, most of it predictable. One reaction was fairly unpredictable, from Libertarian Presidential candidate (and former Republican) Bob Barr:

"Regardless of whether one supports or opposes same sex marriage, the decision to recognize such unions or not ought to be a power each state exercises on its own, rather than imposition of a one-size-fits-all mandate by the federal government (as would be required by a Federal Marriage Amendment which has been previously proposed and considered by the Congress). The decision today by the Supreme Court of California properly reflects this fundamental principle of federalism on which ournation was founded.

"Indeed, the primary reason for which I authored the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 was to ensure that each state remained free to determine for its citizens the basis on which marriage would be recognized within its borders, and not be forced to adopt a definition of marriage contrary to its views by another state. The decision in California is an illustration of how this principle of states' powers should work."

I think Barr is being a little disingenuous about the intent of DOMA, but it's an interesting perspective nonetheless.

On the side of gay rights advocates, there is much celebration, and a determination to forge ahead for a tough fight in the fall. Ellen DeGeneres announced her intention to get married, provoking a long standing ovation from her audience.

On the side of the wingnuts and homophobes, heads exploded. A lot of them focused on how "unelected judges" went over the heads of the will of the people. First of all, the elected legislature, elected more recently than the 2000 marriage initiative, have passed this legislation twice, and frankly that's how democracy works. Second of all, Supreme Court judges in California are, you know, elected:

But, in making their rush to judgment about the CA decision, both Blunt and Feeney have the basic facts wrong about how California’s judicial system works., a resource of the League of Women’s Voters, makes clear that California’s Supreme Court justices are “confirmed by the public at the next general election” after being appointed and “justices also come before voters at the end of their 12-year terms.”

In fact, each of the seven justices involved in yesterday’s decision were approved by California voters by overwhelming margins:

- Justice Joyce L. Kennard confirmed in 2006 with 74.5% of the vote.
- Justice Carol A. Corrigan confirmed in 2006 with 74.4% of the vote.
- Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar confirmed in 2002 with 74.1% of the vote.
- Justice Carlos R. Moreno confirmed in 2002 with 72.6% of the vote.
- Justice Marvin R. Baxter confirmed in 2002 with 71.5% of the vote.
- Justice Ronald M. George confirmed in 1998 with 75.5% of the vote.
- Justice Ming William Chin confirmed in 1998 with 69.3% of the vote.

And 6 of the 7 were appointed by Republican governors.

As for the initiative fight, Peter Hecht has a scene-setter today.

California voters eight years ago overwhelmingly approved a law against gay marriage, but as they prepare to go to the polls again in the wake of Thursday's California Supreme Court decision, the outcome is less certain.

Unlike 2000, when 61 percent voted to put a gay marriage ban in state law, the "California Marriage Protection Act" would lock the ban in the constitution, negating the court's action. The measure is expected to qualify for the Nov. 4 ballot.

Pollsters say voters' views on gay marriage are more complex than the last time they considered the question, as surveys show rising acceptance in California for same-sex unions.

"The vote itself on the constitutional amendment will be wide open," said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. "It's all age-related. One generation is replacing another. And the generation that is coming in now is much more supportive of gay marriage than the one that was here eight years ago."

In a 2006 state Field Poll, voters opposed gay marriage 51 percent to 43 percent. But support was much stronger among newer voters.

Kevin Drum has crunched the numbers based on historical data between 2000 and now, and thinks it'll be very close, within 4 points. This is going to be a major battle in the fall. And I have to say, one that can skyrocket turnout on the DEMOCRATIC side. As a civil rights issue that will energize younger voters to turn out in solidarity and support, I think you could see a perfect storm that could help us downticket. It's going to take a major effort.

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