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Same-sex marriage ruling means fairness for all

Posted: July 10, 2008 9:06 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 

In the past month I've read many opinions about why same-sex marriage threatens the institution of marriage. Frankly, I'm baffled.

A marriage license is a function of government, not religion. As such, it must meet all of the legal requirements of the state. Many couples solemnize their vows in a religious ceremony, but a civil ceremony is equally valid.

Same-sex couples have been waiting for many years for the right to honor their relationships with marriage vows the same way other couples do. Here are the facts I've been able to gather.

The state Supreme Court ruling says it very well. I've used the actual words as much as possible, but I've summarized for the sake of brevity. On pages 11 and 12 of the ruling, the court makes the following four points:

n The designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage.

n Retaining the traditional definition will impose appreciable harm, because denying same-sex couples access to the highly-favored designation of marriage is likely to cast doubt on whether they enjoy dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples.

n To deny the term "marriage" is likely to be viewed as reflecting an official view that same-sex relationships are of lesser stature.

n Retaining the current designation of marriage may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise - now emphatically rejected by this state - that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects "second-class citizens" who may be treated differently under the law.

In a Los Angeles Times article dated May 18, Chief Justice Ronald M. George, a moderate Republican, said he remembered visiting the American South as a child, seeing signs warning "No negroes" or "No coloreds."

"These signs left quite an indelible impression on me," he said. He indicated that he saw the fight for same-sex marriage as a civil rights case akin to the legal battle that ended laws banning interracial marriage.

He noted that the California Supreme Court moved ahead of public sentiment 60 years ago when it became the first in the country to strike down these unfair marriage laws. I applaud the court for its decision to do so once again.

California has already made the initial steps, once again moving ahead of public sentiment, understanding that equal treatment under the law is a basic democratic principle.

In November, I believe we are obligated to uphold this principle by defeating the proposed constitutional amendment that would denote our state as one of prejudice and inequality.

Help California remain a leader in promoting the basic right of equality for all people. Let's make it happen!

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