Judge Vaughn Walker ruled on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 that Proposition 8 in California, which had stripped gay couples in that state of their legal right to marry, was unconstitutional. Within minutes of the verdict being announced thousands of people, gay and straight, screamed for joy. Equality and justice had finally prevailed; gay couples no longer had to feel like second class citizens, marginalized and persecuted based solely on who they love.
But in other circles there was little cause for celebration. Those who had supported Proposition 8 with their understanding that somehow gay marriage would threaten them and their families if it were to become legal, began to accuse the judge of being biased because he is gay (a fact I have yet to verify) and that one judge should NEVER be allowed to overturn the will of the people. After all, twice voters in California voted to protect marriage by not allowing gay marriage to be legalized, and they won. The first time was with Proposition 22 in 2000, which passed by over 60% of the popular vote, and then again in 2008 with Prop 8 which passed by a much narrower margin of 52 to 48 % of the vote.
In May of 2008 the Supreme Court in CA found that prop 22 (the original anti gay marriage law) was unconstitutional and 18,000 marriages were performed across the state between May and November. Joyous faces, happy couples, wives kissing wives, husbands kissing husbands, and in some cases children surrounding them in joyful celebrations could be seen. Victory was theirs. But then those who could not bare to see what they considered a strictly heterosexual right tarnished by gay couples, rallied the memberships of their churches, their friends, their families, and launched the most expensive political campaign in the history of America. Estimates are that between both sides over $80,000,000 was spent in this battle. One side fighting for their inalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and equal protection promised them by the Constitution, and the other side trying to keep them from those very things.
Now that Prop 8 has been overturned and marriage will soon be once again open to gay couples as well as straight couples, what does this mean for America? Will this set us back in our evolution as a society? Will it diminish the meaning and sanctity of all those straight marriages out there? Will straight couples now value their marriages less because gay couples now have the full benefits afforded straight couples? Will more people now turn gay because gay couples can get married? Will this open Pandora’s box, like I’ve been told so many times, to brothers marrying sisters, father’s marrying daughters, people marrying their pets? Think about it. If the will of the majority of the people could never be overturned by a judge, blacks would still be oppressed and would not have the equal protection they do today. Women would never have been given the right to vote or equal pay for equal work. Interracial marriage would still be illegal, and these are just a few of the examples of mass hysteria that sought to oppress a group they did not like or understand.
What will happen now is this: As the years tick by and gay marriage is a fully acceptable practice in America, and no one’s lives have been shattered because of it and the sky hasn’t fallen nor has the world come to an end, those who are screaming about activist judges overturning the will of the people, will have forgotten all about their bias and will wonder “what were people thinking back then?”