Wednesday, May 27, 2009

California Court Gives Marriage Backers A Good Word -- But Nothing Else.

The Right seems jubilant about the decision of the California Supreme Court which said that Proposition 8 does pass judicial scrutiny and is the now the law of the land.

But should conservatives be gleeful when thrown a bone? Should they be satisfied with hollow words and meaningless "moral victories" paternally given them by America's arrogant, non-elected jurists?

After all, besides the word itself, what have the promoters of "marriage" retained after the Court finished with the matter?

Note how Chief Justice Ronald George emphasized that the de facto rights of same-sex marriage are left untouched by the Court's ruling.

But George said California's domestic-partner law and portions of the 2008 ruling that survived Prop. 8 give same-sex couples "the same substantive core benefits" as heterosexual spouses. Those include "the constitutional right to enter into an officially recognized and protected family relationship," he said.

The "sole, albeit significant, exception," George said, is that "the designation of 'marriage' is ... now reserved for opposite-sex couples."

And here from the decision itself (notice the words I print in bold) -- Chief Justice Ronald George writing the the majority opinion: Proposition 8 "carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights (of equality and privacy), reserving the official designation of the term 'marriage' for the union of opposite-sex couples ... but leaving undisturbed all of the other extremely significant aspects of a same-sex couple's state constitutional right to establish an officially recognized and protected family relationship."

And from the concurrence by Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar: The majority opinion "avoids the daunting task of reconciling with our constitutional tradition a voter initiative clearly motivated at least in part by group bias."

Prop. 8 is a valid amendment because, "excepting the name, same-sex couples are entitled to enjoy all the rights of marriage, leaving the state with a continuing duty to "eliminate the remaining important differences between marriage and domestic partnership, both in substance and perception."

So again I ask, why are conservatives acting as if they really won something here?

The court is only saying (and it is remarkably open about it) that 1) the ruling allows all benefits of homosexual marriage to remain intact...except for the word "marriage." (And, oh yes; those homosexual couples who registered before the decision? Well, they're okay. They get the name as well as the game.)

And 2) the only reason the court caved in and decided not to grant homosexuals the magic word itself was because it would have precipitated a constitutional crisis.

Thus it is pragmatics and distorted semantics that have won the day, not the backers of true marriage...and not those who believe that "the will of the people" is any match nowadays for a few folks in black robes.