Friday, August 13, 2010

Alas, Poor Prop 8, I knew him well...


It now appears that no path to the Supreme Court exists for Judge Walker's Prop 8 ruling. The substance of the issue may of course arrive at the Supreme's doorstep in a year or so, but not in the form of an appeal of this ruling. Only the State of California, as represented by Governor Schwarzenegger and its relevant officials (each named in the suit), have the legal standing to appeal the decision - and they have decided to let the ruling stand. Erstwhile proponents of Prop 8 are trying to figure out how to either gain standing, or ally with a county agency with (a theoretical) existing standing. But by all accounts they are fighting a losing battle.

Sure, lets "agree to disagree", but I still think you should take a few moments to read through the first 30 or 40 pages of the ruling.

Documents like these never fail to impress me. The ruling runs to 138 pages and is a marvel of objective logic, impartially applied. You may not agree with judge Walker's decision, but its hard for anyone to say he didn't thoroughly consider every detail of testimony, as well as the applicable laws and legal precedents.

One thing which really stands out is the poverty of evidence which the Defendant "Intervenors" presented on behalf of the State. What it consisted of was almost entirely the testimony of David Blankenhorn, the founder and president of The Institute for American Values. As a witness, Mr. Blankenhorn was particularly ineffective. From Judge Walker's ruling:

"Blankenhorn noted that marriage would benefit same-sex couples and their children, would reduce discrimination against gays and lesbians and would be “a victory for the worthy ideas of tolerance and inclusion.” Tr 2850:12-13. Despite the multitude of benefits identified by Blankenhorn that would flow to the state, to gays and lesbians and to American ideals were California to recognize same-sex marriage, Blankenhorn testified that the state should not recognize same-sex marriage. Blankenhorn reasoned that the benefits of same-sex marriage are not valuable enough because same-sex marriage could conceivably weaken marriage as an institution." (my emphasis - jeesh, I could have emphasized the whole thing!)

How ironic. Defendants here seem to have put up a better witness for plaintiffs than for themselves. Mr. Blankenhorn clearly enumerated several, compelling reasons why the court should not consider an "equal protection" exception for Prop 8, while his only reason for an exception was that same sex marriages would simply change the nature of the marriage contract - and this, without being able to adequately explain how this mere change in nature is supposed to weaken it. An impartial observer would most likely conclude that if Mr. Blankenhorn was really serious about strengthening the marriage contract, he would have fought tooth and nail against Prop 8.

One more thing. I've enjoyed our posts on this issue, but before we bury it, I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention one other detail.

Personally, I don't have a problem with social conservatives expressing the view that traditional marriage generally benefits society, while same sex marriages harm it. Naturally, I don't agree with this line of thinking, but neither do I consider it dishonest. Like you, I grew up in a traditional family and can't imagine what it would be like to have had either two moms or two dads instead.

In my heart however, I think what our children and our society need most today is loving, stable relationships - and Lord knows they are hard to come by. Steve, I guess I'm just not a big fan of gay sex. But I am a huge fan of people who live up to their commitments to each other and their responsibilities as parents. If they happen to be gay, well, what of it? What every kid needs most today is not just a roof over his or her head, but also a shoulder to cry on when they are sad and someone up in the stands to shout "hooray!" every time they make a basket or catch a line drive.



1 comment:

  1. I *did* read the ruling. As I tried to say, I agreed with the principle behind the challenge to the amendment by the gay activists. I also pointed out that the presentation in support of the amendment was bungled (focusing on so-called 'wisdom' and reasoning behind it). Sidebar: IMHO, Someone should consider bringing impeachment proceedings against elected and appointed officials for refusing to 'defend' the state constitution, regardless of their personal feelings in the matter.

    Let me say here that I disagree with the amendment itself (it never should have been necessary). Were it not for an activist judiciary 'finding' (inventing) rights out of thin air, it never would gotten this far.

    Nonetheless, a claim was made. The state court 'found' a 'right' in the State Constitution. The public disagreed with the ruling and took the correct legal approach to change thing more to their liking. This lead to another challenge; throwing the California amendment against the U.S. Constitution. A federal judge decided (for whatever reason) to overturn a legally implemented state constitutional amendment. That he did so in response to a mismanaged defense is not the point... he should have kicked it upstairs as being "above his pay-grade". Period. And it should have argued on the merit of whether or not amending the State Constitution on this subject was within the rights and responsibilities of the citizens of California and nothing more. Period.

    I am reminded of Prohibition and where the U.S Constitution was amended, and, later, when the populous wished to change their decision, they had to amend the Constitution again. I fail to see why this procedure should not be followed in this case.

    I won't argue that some kids are well treated when raised by gays. There are some who are well-treated when raised in a traditional household. There are some well-treated in single-parent households. Likewise, in all of those cases, there are also children who are abused. Children should be nurtured and cared for. More power and kudos to anyone who does that, regardless of lifestyle. But that is not the point, either.

    This is a Constitutional issue, with a special focus on States Rights and Consent of the Governed. It strikes to the core question of "Who Decides"? *THIS* is the issue that needs to be resolved at the highest levels.

    It's not about what is best for the children or best for society or - for that matter - equal protection under the law. It's about who CONTROLS the law. And that is a slippery slope indeed.

    I strongly dislike that something as contentious as gay marriage is the lightning rod. It could just as easily have been abortion or illegal immigration. The future of the country is at stake. The tyranny of an unaccountable ruler (even if it's just a 'judge' and not a monarch) invariably leads to destruction.

    We cannot always choose our preferred battleground; this one is before us and the storm clouds are gathering.

    - Steve