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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Consequences of Proposition 8

We will all obviously be affected by the election results on November 4, some more directly than others. But it’s hard to argue that much of anyone will be so immediately and emotionally affected as the thousands of gay couples who got married in California since same-sex ceremonies became legal on June 17–and who now face official nullification of their marital bonds via the narrowly passed initiative Proposition 8.
Lawsuits have already been launched in California courts to overturn Prop 8 on the highly complex grounds that it represents a “revision” rather than an “amendment” of the state constitution (loose translation: constitutional initiatives must be specific enough so as not to represent a broad-based assault on fundamental rights or judicial prerogatives).
Eugene Volokh has posted a pretty thorough discussion of this challenge, and predicts it will fail based on earlier precedents. In a separate post, he also discusses and rejects the theory that Prop 8 will be held not to apply to existing marriages, either because that would abrogate existing contracts, or because some Prop 8 supporters claimed they had not intention of having that effect. Since the plain language of Prop 8 prohibits “recognition” of same-sex marriages, that seems a reasonable conclusion. (Volokh also suggests that married gay couples will probably be automatically recognized as domestic partners, a status unaffected by the initiative).
How many people are we talking about here? According to one estimate, as of September 17, three months after gay marriages became legal in California, 11,000 couples had tied the knot. You’d have to figure the numbers stayed pretty high in the six weeks between September 17 and election day, if only because couples knew the door to their nuptials might soon slam shut.

One comment on “Consequences of Proposition 8

  1. ducdebrabant on

    According to CNN, at the same time that African-Americans were voting overwhelmingly (90%?) for the first African-American President, they were voting disproportionately (70% to 30%, whereas other ethnic groups were more evenly split) for the anti-gay ballot measures.
    God bless the child that’s got his own.
    Arkansas was particularly vile, outlawing adoption and even foster parenting by gay couples.
    Here’s a hypothetical: if your sister and brother-in-law die, if you are the only surviving family of either parent, if you are the godfather of your niece and nephew, if you are gay and in a stable relationship, if your niece and nephew adore you, if you’ve been taking them to the park and the zoo every weekend as long as they can walk …. you will not be permitted to adopt them, or even be their foster parents.
    These children MAY NOT live with their only relatives, no matter what. The state of Arkansas prefers to make them wards of the state and put them into foster care.
    Let’s hope they aren’t starved there, or physically or sexually abused. I urge any straight couples with loving gay relatives and small children to drive carefully, button up their overcoats, and try very, very hard not to die. Your kids haven’t got a chance.


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