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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Prop 8 Upheld, But So Too Are Existing Marriages

In a widely predicted development, the California Supreme Court upheld, by a 6-1 vote, the constitutionality of last November’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriages in the state. But it also upheld the validity of approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages performed prior to passage of Prop. 8. That’s significant, not only in terms of the lives of those 18,000 couples, but also because their existence will steadily undermine all the scare tactics employed by opponents of same-sex marriage alleging a corrosive impact on heterosexual marriages or “religious freedom.”
Prop 8 could be rescinded as early as 2010 by another initiative or by an act of the legislature followed by a successful referendum. There’s no question that marriage equality activists in California will take immediate steps to make that happen, in hopes that the lessons of the Prop 8 campaign (see Jasmine Beach-Ferrara’s early analysis of those lessons, which we published in November) will be thoroughly learned and a different result will be achieved next time around.
National GLBT rights advocates will, of course, make their own calculations of where to allocate resources going forward. Today Richard Kim at The Nation argues that the domestic-partnership rights in California that were not affected by Prop 8 are strong enough that perhaps other states with no such rights should become the primary targets for activists in the immediate future. We’ll hear more about this debate in the near future.

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