Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Supreme Court agrees to hear Prop. 8 arguments

What does this mean?

First, the court refused to stay Prop. 8, which means that same sex couples may not continue to get married pending resolution of the issue.

They did, however, agree to decide whether Prop 8 is valid and whether it affects marriages that took place before November 4.

Mostly, the court's order means that the issue will be resolved sooner rather than later. Procedurally this means that the Supreme Court is not going to force the issue to be heard by a trial court and then an intermediary court of appeal before it makes a decision. We are skipping the middle man.

Also, the court issued a VERY tight briefing schedule. All briefing is to be completed by January 21st. Don't think that's very soon? You've never written an appellate brief. Trust me, there are lawyers cancelling their holiday plans even as I write. This is excellent news in that it means the court is serious about getting this issue resolved quickly. That doesn't say anything about which way they will decide it, of course, but they probably will decide it soon. At least soon in the tortoise-like time frame of the California Supreme Court. Maybe late spring. But don't hold your breath.

A very curious aspect of the court's order is that they are deciding the issue of retroactivity; that is, does Prop 8 affect the marriages that have already taken place. The petitioners (3 groups: couples who got married, couples who want to marry, and counties that want to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples) did NOT raise this issue. I presume this was for a very good strategic reason. The longer those 18,000 couples remain married and society continues not to crumble, the weaker the case against same sex marriage appears in the eyes of the public.

Justice Kennard dissented from the order. She would have preferred that the petitioners specifically and only raise the issue of retroactivity. This seems like a bad sign to me. It suggests that she thinks that Prop 8 is valid, but wants to get to the issue of the marriages that have already taken place with that issue squarely and properly before the court. Because, of course, if you are going to decide that the measure is invalid you never have to reach the issue of retroactivity. Justice Kennard was a strong vote in favor of marriage equality the first time around, so this feels ominous to me.

On the other hand, Justice Moreno would have issued the stay on Prop 8 going into effect. I think we have his vote!

Friday, November 14, 2008

What he said

I'll move off of politics and back to "real" life soon, I swear. But for the moment they are a bit one and the same. So to this I say: Uh huh. Oh yeah. And amen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Question of the day

Joseph Smith had 28 wives. Why can’t I have one?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A sweet, bitter day

I am so happy. I have never felt more patriotic, more proud of this country and that I am a part of it, more enfranchised. I keep pinching myself to be sure I am awake. Did we really elect a black man president? We really did. Wow. By a landslide. Some comparisons, to put it in glorious perspective:

Obama is the first Democrat to take a majority of the popular vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976, and he received more white votes than any Democrat since Carter, besting both Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Obama won the the largest majority of any Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 among women, independents, moderates, African-Americans, Hispanics and young voters.

Yeah, baby. With such incredible charisma, intelligence, political savvy and skill it's going to be a good 8 years.

The happiness is of course tinged with sadness as Prop 8 squeaked out passage. The fight isn't over, and I know we will get there some day. I keep reminding myself that when I came out 20 years ago (wow, writing that makes me feel old) I never, ever even saw marriage on the civil rights landscape. It seemed like nothing more than a quixotic daydream to think that I might have a relationship officially recognized by the government. We have come a long, long way. In the big picture, this is a small setback.

This is so personal that it sure does smart, though. To bring it back around to joy, I take comfort in the words of our President-elect:

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Let's get enfranchised

It's a word, all by itself, without the dis-. I looked it up.

en fran' chise vt 1. to free from slavery, bondage, etc. 2. to give a franchise to; specif., to admit to citizenship, esp. to the right to vote.

This election enfranchisement is making a comeback.

From 6:30 this morning until 2 this afternoon, I was standing on a sidewalk in Alameda with a small group of volunteers waving signs and talking to people about Proposition 8. Lots of people told us they had already voted no. Lots honked their horns and waved.

Some people told us we shouldn't be talking to people outside a polling place, even though we were 100 feet away. One woman told me she was so angry about it that if she hadn't already decided to vote no because she thought Prop. 8 was wrong, she would have voted yes because we had talked to her. "People have already made up their minds about important measures!" she fumed. "But some haven't," I countered. "Well they should have!" she yelled, and stomped off.

I saw volunteers on other corners waving Obama signs. A woman told me that her daughter was heartbroken that she was born on November 8, so she wouldn't get to vote in this election by 4 days. I don't ever remember there being so much excitement around participating in the democratic process.

Then, this woman walked up to me and another volunteer. "Give me two reasons," she said. "You give me one," she pointed to me, "and you give me one," she pointed to Nama. "Two reasons why I should vote no. I'm on the fence."

I told her that I thought the constitution should protect people's rights, not take them away. Nama said that all people should be treated as equals.

"That's what bothers me," the woman said. "I believe in individual rights and all these people who have been married, I don't think we should take that away from them."

I asked if I could add another reason and she agreed. I told her that my wife and I had been together for 14 years and that we love and support each other and we wanted our relationship to be recognized. Nama said that she and her wife had been together for 16 years.

"But," said the woman, "I think that a man and woman being together is different from a woman and a woman, don't you?" Nama laughed and said, "If you had any idea how boring our lives are. We are just like any other couple." I agreed and said that we had supported each other through good and bad times, just like any couple that marries promised to do, and that our daily lives were pretty dull.

"Thank you," the woman said. "I still don't know how I'm going to vote, but thank you for talking to me."

Although the lines were not long, it took her about 30 minutes to come out again. I asked if she would be willing to tell me how she voted. "I voted no," she said, "because of what you said to me. You two put a face on it for me. I won't be able to tell my best friend how I voted, but I'm glad I talked to you."

Then (and I wish I was making this up) a guy walked by and asked if I needed a sperm donor.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy Halloween!