I voted against Proposition 22, the same-sex marriage ban, in 2000. I figured that if same-sex couples want to marry, why not let them? I believe in marriage. I don't want gay people to feel marginalized. But 61 percent of California voters thought otherwise.
In November, Proposition 8, a follow-up same-sex marriage ban, was on the ballot.
This time, I was so conflicted, I punted. I did not vote either way. I'm not proud of my nonvote, but as I watch the fallout from Proposition 8's 52 percent victory, I've seen things that are forcing me out of my closet.
A slow burn has been building since 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decided that he could flout the state marriage laws and authorize same-sex weddings in City Hall.
Worse, that prank threw the same-sex marriage issue to the courts -- when it was clear that, within a matter of years, California voters would legalize same-sex marriage -- and the issue would be settled for good. Instead, Newsom ensured same-sex marriage would remain a culture-war staple -- while enraging many folks, who as mere citizens can't pick and choose which laws they follow. Then in 2008, by a 4-3 margin, the California Supreme Court decided to reward Newsom's law-breaking. Chief Justice Ron George argued that because the Legislature had passed domestic partnership legislation that confers the same benefits to same-sex couples enjoyed by married heterosexuals (except for the status of official marriage) domestic partnerships "realistically must be viewed as constituting significantly unequal treatment to same-sex couples."
Justice Marvin Baxter's dissenting opinion scolded the majority, noting that the court "does not have the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice."
That sentence hit home.
There has been too little recognition of the fact that marriage has been limited to unions between members of the opposite sex since about as long as there have been laws.
Activists would argue that Prop. 8 "took away" their rights -- as if the five months between the George decision and Prop. 8's passage outweigh thousands of years of human history.
After Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, the government commissioned a study to debunk the argument that same-sex marriage laws could lead to the unintended consequence of legalized polygamy. Oops. The authors supported recognizing polygamy.