California court decision intensifies the struggle over gay marriage

The California Supreme Court’s recent decision on gay marriage is a tragedy. It hobbles families, discriminates against mothers and fathers and children, and endorses the horrific idea that civil rights can be repealed by a vote.

The one thing the decision doesn’t do, though, is end the battle over same-sex marriage, either in California or the rest of the nation.

My family is at the center of that debate, even though we don’t want to be. We can’t avoid it because we are a lesbian-headed household.

Opponents of same-sex marriage won their victory in California on May 26 when the court upheld Proposition 8. Approved by statewide vote in November, the proposition banned same-sex marriage five months after it became legal. In that period, 18,000 lesbian and gay couples married.

In its 6-1 ruling, the court allowed a mere majority of voters to strip thousands of their neighbors of a legal right and, thus, of the ability to fully protect their families. The decision allowed those 18,000 marriages to stand, but prohibited others from marrying, punishing couples that committed the sin of falling in love at the wrong time or failing to marry at the right moment.

The supporters of Proposition 8 hailed the ruling and counselled advocates of marriage equality to accept the will of the people. They also scolded us for not acquiescing to the wishes of people who want to discriminate against us.

I have some questions for the proponents of Proposition 8 and for all those around the nation who want to horde the legal protections their families receive.

Would you ever accept such discrimination?

Would you decide that your children don’t deserve the protections marriage provides families?

A lawsuit has already been filed in federal court challenging the decision. A campaign is being launched to put the issue back on the ballot in California.

The fight is also continuing in New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and many other states.

Five years ago, same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts. In the last seven months, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine have endorsed marriage equality.

The idea that our families deserve rights is no longer revolutionary, and eventually it will prevail.

This fight won’t end until my son and all the sons and daughters of lesbian and gay parents get the same protections other children receive. To give up on our families now is unthinkable.

Diane Silver is a former political activist who writes the nationally syndicated Political IQ column. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.