Thursday, August 5, 2010
Isn't it time to give up on banning gay marriage?
Does anyone really think life would not be worth living if gay people were allowed to marry? That seems to be just what anti-gay marriage partisans have been saying since a San Francisco federal court struck down California's Proposition 8, a ban on such unions approved by voters in 2008. “This is going to set off a groundswell of opposition,” prominent Prop. 8 backer Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa, Calif., told the New York Times. “It’s going to rally people that might have been silent.” The ruling applies only to the parts of Northern California included in Walker's district, and not to the rest of California nor to any other U.S. states that already have banned gay marriage. So, what's the big deal? It's not like the court is requiring people in Northern California to enter into gay unions, is it? No, the court simply said the government cannot make laws that extend benefits to some people while excluding them from others on the basis of who they love. “Proposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause,” highly respected Judge Vaughan Walker of the Northern District of California said in his ruling. “Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest.” This is the kind of ruling we expect from our courts when the government does something outrageous, particularly when that something reflects the passion of the moment. We have rules that protect minorities precisely for this reason -- the government is barred from enacting discriminatory provisions. The disconnect here is that the opponents of gay marriage try to use the government to advance a religious-oriented agenda, not the other way around. Why did they even go to court in the first place? A rational judiciary could not decide this case any other way, and the fact that some courts have allowed states to ban gay marriage is both preposterous and insulting.