Thursday, May 15, 2008

Inalienable rights

You would think that Thursday's decision by the California Supreme Court that homosexual couples were entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples would put an end to the matter. Who can argue with such a determination -- that everyone is entitled to equal treatment under law -- without resorting to empty slogans or outright bigotry? The law does not care, and must not care, who is white or black, male or female, Christian or Muslim, gay or straight. That is what it means to live in a civil society, and we should be embracing each step on the path to equality. But the battle is far from over, even in California. Groups have already been formed to put an initiative on the statewide ballot barring same-sex marriage, and it has a very good chance of passage. Even in a state as tolerant as California, there are many, many people who oppose this kind of social progress, as reflected in the 4-3 decision. The court ruling, which takes effect in 30 days unless appealed, would make California just the second state to allow gay marriage. Massachusetts was the first, and Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont allow same-sex civil unions. San Francisco permitted same-sex marriages for two weeks in 2004 before the state Supreme Court ordered the city to stop. The court voided the marriages six months later, leading to the case that resulted in Thursday's ruling.

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