Last week a federal judge determined that proposition 8 was unconstitutional.  Proposition 8 is an amendment to the constitution of the state of Californian which forbids gay marriage by inserting the definition of marriage as one man and one woman.  This proposition and the judge’s ruling have created a firestorm of news articles.  Now I am a not a social conservative, therefore I do not really have a strong opinion as to whether a gay couple’s relationship should be labeled as a marriage, a union or any other term.  My concern is with the unintended consequences of this argument.

First, let’s look at the amendment.  It is rather simple and is focused on the definition; one man and one woman.  It was passed by a super majority of the people of California.  I am not a lawyer, but from what I can tell, this amendment only pertained to marriage in California and did not block the recognition of gay marriages from other states such as Massachusetts.  This presents a problem for the state at least at the tax level, as California does have separated tax tables for married couples just like the federal government.  How do your recognize something that could not have happened in the state?  That is just one of many ramifications.

Now let’s look at the Judge’s decision.  The judge stated that the amendment was discriminatory and therefore violated the United States Constitution.  This is interesting in that the United States Constitution has very specific things that are protected from discrimination, and gay marriage is not one of them.  I am not debating whether this is discrimination or not, I am just looking at the consequences.  IF we eliminate the definition, which was apparently not needed in the past, we have to consider what we do for other forms of marriage.  Does this decision mean that polygamy lays are unconstitutional?  Again, this is just one example.

In the past, we have had laws and constitutional amendments that now seem rather silly.  Until the 1960’s there were still laws forbidding interracial marriage.  Does this latest round of legal intrigue fall into this category?  If we look further into our history, we can see other laws and institutions that have been supported by majorities of the people and even upheld by the supreme court, later to be changed or thrown out.  I cannot predict the future, but these arguments which are so important today will at some future date seem rather odd to school children, if it is even mentioned at all.  I can predict that this issue will continue to be the source of many spiteful comments as each group believes that they are on the moral high ground.

The full text of the proposal is copied below from http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/past/2008/general/text-proposed-laws/text-of-proposed-laws.pdf.

PROPOSITION 8

This initiative measure is submitted to the people in accordance with the provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the California Constitution.  This initiative measure expressly amends the California Constitution byadding a section thereto; therefore, new provisions proposed to be added are printed in italic type to indicate that they are new.

SECTION 1. Title

This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “California Marriage Protection Act.”

SECTION 2. Section 7.5 is added to Article I of the California Constitution, to read:

SEC. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

The full text of the Judge’s decision can be found at http://media.scpr.org/documents/2010/08/04/Perry_Trial_Decision.pdf.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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