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Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger):
California lawsuit challenging constitutionality of Prop. 8

2013-JUN-26: Reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court's
ruling that restored same-sex marriage (SSM) to CA:
Great leap forward or horrendous national disaster?

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Continued from a previous essay

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In this web site, "SSM" is an acronym for "same-sex marriage."

"LGBT" is an acronym for "Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender persons and Transsexuals."

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Current status on SSM in California and the rest of the U.S.

By this ruling, there became twelve U.S. states and the District of Columbia where same-sex marriages can be solemnized. About 30% of the population of the U.S. now lives in a state that has attained marriage equality.

It appears that same-sex marriage is secure for the future in California. However, considering the number of false starts and unexpected cessations of same-sex marriages over the past decade in the U.S., it might well be a good decision for same-sex couples in the state who want to get married to do it as soon as is humanly possible. Recall the previous event in California when the state courts legalized SSM in 2008-MAY and Prop. 8 terminated new SSMs from 2008-NOV until now. The approximately 36,000 lesbians, gays, and bisexuals who married same-sex partners between the two dates had their marriages still recognized as valid. The window of opportunity for marriage in other states has been as short as a few hours.

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Why some people consider the Supreme Court's decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry is troubling:

The entire citizen initiative concept is based upon a perceived need for the public to be able to bypass the Legislature and appeal directly to the public to effect change when the Legislature is unresponsive. If a majority of voters support a Proposition, it becomes a law or a change to the state Constitution. However, the Supreme Court has asserted that only certain state officials -- for example the Governor or Attorney General -- have standing to defend a lawsuit in court.

If these officials refuse to defend a legal challenge as they did over Proposition 8, then no other person or group would be able to appeal the ruling of a federal District Court. The Governor and Attorney General together would have a type of veto power over Propositions. This negates the basic reason for citizen initiatives. The Supreme Court's decision in this case might trigger some scary effects in the future.

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A graphic on the Prop. 8 and DOMA cases:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) -- a pro-LGBT advocacy group, had prepared a graphic on 2013-APR-08: outlining what they had considered to be the four most likely outcomes of the two court cases whose rulings were released on JUN-26:

  • "Perry" involves the constitutionality of the Proposition 8 citizen initiative that terminated, at least temporarily, SSM for California in 2008-NOV.

  • "Windsor" involves the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prohibited the federal government from giving access to the same benefits and protections to loving, committed same-sex couple that they already provide for opposite-sex couples.

Of the four likely outcomes of the case before the Supreme Court, Scenario 2 appears to be closest to the Court's decisions:

Winning prediction1

HRC's most pessimistic prediction came to pass: the ruling in Perry only affects California.

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A concern about the future path of marriage equality by the American Family Association (AFA):

Tim Wildmon, president of the AFA wrote:

"The bottom line is same-sex marriage is now legal in parts of California, but the ruling did not strike down the other [state constitutional] amendments defining marriage as between one man and one women which have passed in over 30 states. ..."

"But the larger issue here is, again, where this all is headed. The political and social agenda of the GLBT movement is now starting to collide with the freedom of religion guaranteed all Americans in the US Constitution." 2

Webmaster's comment: [bias alert]

Now that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted its stay, same-sex couples anywhere in California can freely obtain marriage licenses and be married.

Wildmon cited two highly publicized and well known local conflicts -- one in Colorado involving a bakery and one in the state of Washington involving a florist. Both companies are in business to serve the general public. Both states have an human rights code that prohibits companies from discriminating against customers on the basis of their race, religion, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, etc. So, for example, a bakery cannot post a sign saying "We do not sell our products to African Americans." Both of the companies cited ran afoul of human rights legislation in their state when they refused to supply goods: a wedding cake to a gay couple, and flowers for a same-sex marriage ceremony.

When he refers to "freedom of religion," he is not referring to the traditional meaning of the term: the freedom to hold diverse religious beliefs, to assemble with like-minded believers, to proselytize, etc. Rather, he is referring to the new meaning of the term: the freedom to discriminate against, or oppress others on the basis of their religious beliefs.

If this baker, florist, and other Christians who want to continue to discriminate against the LGBT community, it would be more effective for them to advocate in favor of weakening the human rights legislation in their state, rather than trying to stop same-sex marriage. They could advocate for an exclusion so that individuals or companies could discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs, against anyone in the community for any reason.

However, the human rights charges against these companies may actually work in their favor. There are recent cases where companies have discriminated against gays or lesbians, have been found guilty of violating the human rights code, were fined, and later been overwhelmed with business from believers who also support discrimination.

Wildmon continues:

"Using the power of the government to force private business owners to violate their religious convictions is just a step away from the government telling churches who they can and can’t marry and what they can and cannot teach." 2

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives absolute protection for churches and other religious organizations to teach discrimination, hatred, exclusion, etc. and to refuse to marry couples for any reason at all. For hundreds of years, clergy have refused to marry couple because they are considered to be of the wrong race, or are different races, or of other faiths, or too young or immature, or even -- in the case of the Roman Catholic Church -- because one of them is physically disabled. So freedom of churches to discriminate in their decision of whom to marry is not a problem now and will not be in the future.

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Other reactions to the Supreme Court's ruling:

  • At the Supreme Court building on the day of the ruling, demonstrators crowded around the two couples who launched the lawsuit, chanting "thank you" and "we love you."

  • The responses by the California public are expected to be mostly positive. A May poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 56% of California adults favored SSM while 38% were opposed, for a margin of 18 percentage points. (Margin of error is ±3.8 percentage points.) 3 This compares with the 48%/52% split in 2008-NOV when Prop. 8 was voted upon. There is little doubt that if Proposition 8 were vote upon today, it would be resoundingly defeated.

  • Among all the social and religiously conservative information sources that we have examined:
    • Many refer to the court decision as ignoring the 6.1 million Californians who voted in favor of Prop. 8. However, none that we have see also refer to the over 5.5 million who voted against Prop. 8 in a referendum which would have gone the other way if one in 50 voters had changed their mind.

    • All seem to refer to the support for and against SSM in terms of the 2008-NOV Prop 8 vote. None mention more recent polls that indicate substantial support and much weaker opposition to SSM. This is a good indication of how important it is to read about events as covered by both liberal and conservative information sources, in order to understand events more fully.

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Reactions to the court ruling continue in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Richard Wolf & Brad Heath, "Justices open door to same-sex marriages in California," USA Today, 2013-JUN-26, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
  2. Tim Wildmon, "The Supreme Court Decision: Where Are We Headed?," American Family Association, 2013-JUN-28, at: http://action.afa.net/
  3. Greg Stohr, "High Court Allows California Gay Marriage, Voids U.S. Law," Bloomberg, 2013-JUN-26, at: http://www.bloomberg.com/

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Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Couples > California > Prop 8 > here

Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2013-JUN-26
Latest update: 2013-JUL-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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