It seems like the California Supreme Court has upheld the amendment to the California Constitution embodied in Prop 8 to the bare minimum that they could without actually throwing it out (which, I am led to understand by a number of lawyer friends, would have been very difficult to do), and in doing so have made it as toothless as they could. As I understand it, the court is basically saying “same-sex couples are allowed every right non-same-sex couples are allowed except to the actual word ‘marriage,’ unless of course they were already married before Prop 8 passed, in which case they get to use the word ‘marriage,’ too.”
Let’s not pretend that the pro-Prop 8 folks didn’t get a victory here in banning recognition of future same-sex marriages in California, because they have. However, the victory they did not get, the one that mattered the most from the point of view of delegitimizing same-sex marriage in California, and the one will make the Prop 8 ruling look increasingly foolish and bigoted as time goes on, is the one that would have invalidated the 18,000 previously-existing same-sex marriages in California. These marriages make a mockery out of the Prop 8 wording, because guess what? That part of the California constitution that says: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”? Completely and totally false. California is in fact legally obliged to recognize marriages between two men or two women.
Fact is, these existing California same-sex marriages are real, they are legal, they are valid and recognized. The people in them have the same rights as the people in any other marriage. Prop 8 has fundamentally failed to erase the state recognition of same-sex marriages in California. California is a state in which same-sex marriages are legal. That the state will no longer legally sanction additional same-sex marriages is in a very real way aside the point from this.
I imagine there are all sorts of legal implications to this ruling that will have to be sussed out from here, specifically involving why some same-sex couples are allowed legal recognition of their marriages while others aren’t, and in the long run I see the people of California seeing the fundamental bigotry of not allowing the latter group of same-sex couples to joining the former group in a wedded state. But that’s to be dealt with in the future.
In the meantime, I will revel in the fact that every time one of the people in those 18,000 real live actual legally recognized in the State of California same-sex married couples does something associated with the state recognizing the legal status of their marriage, they will taking one of their fingers — the one with the wedding band on it — and poking it directly into the eye of bigotry. You tried to kill my marriage, but it and I am still here, I hear them saying to the Prop 8 supporters. You tried to kill my marriage. You failed.
Yes, they did. They failed spectacularly.