Thursday, February 9, 2012

Prop 8 struck down again

I have only had enough time to skim through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in California's Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban.    As we all know, the appeals panel upheld the lower court ruling striking down the measure as violating the federal constitution.    It did stop short of saying sexual orientation is a "suspect class" entitled to Fourteenth Amendment scrutiny but that on the face of it the proposition nevertheless violates that amendment.

The vote in the 9th Circuit  was 2-1, but what is more important is that all three judges on the panel also dismissed out of hand the so called "family values" claim that the district judge was prejudiced in favour of striking down because he happens to be gay himself.    This is patently ridiculous.   A judge is sworn to uphold the law and to render equal justice to all.   His or her own personal beliefs can be described in obiter if that judge so chooses but he or she still has to settle the case, in this case a request for a restraining order, based on the facts.   And that's precisely what Judge Vaughn Walker did in the district court case in Prop 8, the last significant one he rendered prior to his retirement.

Canada took a huge lead in recognizing same sex couples, first at common law (or "partners in fact" as the relationship is known in Québec) then recognizing marriages.   The act of marriage and even common law relationships carry with them legal responsibilities.   In fighting for the right to marry, the LGBT population was asking for nothing less than to also accept the responsibilities that come with marriage -- including how taxes are paid and child-parent relationships are structured.

And it's not as if the rights of the First Estate have been damaged.   No minister is required to act as the arbiter of a same sex marriage ceremony in any jurisdiction where it is now legal -- any more than that minister would be forced to marry a mixed race couple (there are bigots like that still out there, but their freedom of religion in that regard does remain protected even in the new status quo).

Whatever my personal convictions are, I state again that just as it is now considered unthinkable to ban interracial marriage or an inter-faith marriage, there's no reason whatsoever to stop gays and lesbians from marrying.    And for one simple reason:   It's none of my business.   Frankly resources could be better spent fighting polygamist communities where women are swapped several times over and teenage boys abandoned like so much human garbage, than gay or lesbian couples who want nothing more than to live and let live -- which one of the two in the end is, after all, a bigger threat to the social fabric?

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