In what is another battle won on the same-sex marriage front (yes I support same-sex marriage--albeit a temporary victory--a state court in the nation's most populous state, California, has ruled that a law banning same sex marriage is unconstitutional. San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer stated in his opinion that "It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners."
The judge's ruling is sure to be appealed by any number of conservative groups and perhaps even the state, and it might be a while before we see final resolution on the issue of whether or not same-sex marriage violates the California state constitution. But it is gratifying that yet another state court has ruled that laws outlawing same-sex marriages are unconstitutional because they violate the equal protection clauses of the states' founding document. California's ruling comes close on the heals of two such rulings in Washington state, and one in New York in the past six months.
California's Senior Assistant Attorney General Louis Mauro acknowledged in a hearing in December that the state is "a leader in affording rights" to same-sex couples. But he cited tradition as the reason the state should uphold the existing definition of marriage. Judge Kramer disagreed stating "[T]he state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional."
I couldn't agree with the judge more! Once again this is not an issue of tradition, or religion, or even morality, it is an issue of equal protection before the law. It was tradition until recently to deny people of different races the right to marry; surely no one in the Year 2005 would (rationally) defend the right of the state to deny mixed race marriages on the basis of tradition. A tradition, no matter its intent or import to a segment of society, should not be adhered to if the fundamental constitution rights and or statute mandated Civil Rights of the citizenry are trampled, or otherwise set aside in order to honor said tradition.
Homosexuals (Gay men and lesbian women) are citizens of this nation, and their respective states, and such are constitutionally guaranteed equal protection before the law (see the 14th Amendment to the federal constitution as well as state constitutions). And if the state can find no compelling reason to deny same-sex marriage, it must allow it; marriage after all is a fundamental Constitutional right codified under Loving vs. Virginia. It matters not--or should matter not--what religion--any religion--has to say about the matter, because the institution of marriage as regulated by the many states is a Civil Institution, govern by civil law.
However, this might all be a moot point if California voters approve an amendment this coming November to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. If approved this amendment would follow 13 other states that did the same thing last November, effectively halting freedoms march in parts of the United States, relegating Gays to the status of perpetual second class citizens.
As I stated in a previous articles posted herein, the passage of these amendments to the various state constitutions underlies that by-and-large the American people (ordinary citizens and law-makers alike) lack even a basic understanding of the constitution and how our government is supposed to be run. Not do they understand or appreciate the tenets of real freedom and equality. That is frightening for the future of our nation…but the battle in this war is far from over…