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Monday 08 November 2010

Proposition 8 Overturned: California

Posted in: Comment, Features
By Craig Young - 5th August 2010


Given Argentina's recent approval of same-sex marriage proper, California now seems to be back in the Western Hemisphere progressive mainstream, after a US federal judge overturned Proposition 8, a statewide same-sex marriage ban, today.

The Roman Catholic Church, Church of Latter Day Saints, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Eastern Orthodox Church, American Family Association, Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage and Rick Warren, senior minister of Saddleback Church, a California Pentecostal 'megachurch,' all supported the Proposition, which consisted of a binding citizens referendum question. Other supporters included former US Republican presidential nominee John McCain and former US Republican House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich.

By contrast, President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Californian Democrat federal and state legislature figures and Californian Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger all opposed it. Countering the Religious Right, so did many Reform Jewish congregations and advocacy groups, Californian Episcopalian dioceses and local Unitarian Universalist churches. Notably, so did Amnesty International, the League of Women Voters, (African-American) National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People and Californian Teachers Association, as well as the editors of most leading state newspapers.

In the end, Proposition 8 won narrowly, by a 52-48 percent margin. Almost immediately, court cases were undertaken to overturn the result. Although California's State Supreme Court upheld Propostion 8, Perry v Schwarzenegger was relaunched in a federal District Court. In this case, Kristin Perry and Sandra Steir and the American Federation for Equal Rights filed a case against the same-sex marriage ban on the basis that it was invalid, citing the US 14th Amendment, which refers to 'equal treatment.'

The American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy, California Division; the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (“CAMFT”); CAMFT-East Bay Chapter; CAMFT-Los Angeles Chapter; CAMFT-Marin County Chapter; CAMFT-San Francisco Chapter; Gaylesta, Inc.; the American Family Therapy Academy; the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association of Southern California, Inc.; the Women's Therapy Center; California Therapists for Marriage Equality; and The Gottman Institute all testified that there were no appreciable advantages in continuing to prohibit same-sex marriage, especially insofar as straight marital stability and childrearing were concerned.

Leading gay psychologist Dr Greg Herek and Yale's Dr George Chauncey (a gay historian) were also amongst the plaintiffs witnesses, as was Michael Lamb (Cambridge University), a developmental psychologist who testified to the benefits of children in same-sex parented families if their parents were allowed full access to same-sex marriage.

Arguments closed in early June 10, 2010. Justice Vaughan Walker released the verdict on August 4, 2010. So, what happens now? It may not be completely over, and the case may well end up in the US Supreme Court eventually. At the moment, however, it looks as if Proposition 8 has been overturned, much to the joy of liberal and LGBT Californians.

As for New Zealand, there didn't seem to be all that much initial response from local Christian Right bloggers and news outlets, although this may be related to the recent nature of the verdict in question.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger Decision: Portal Link:

Craig Young - 5th August 2010

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