Friday, October 06, 2006

a win for reason: Court of Appeals strikes down same-sex marriage

By a 2-1 decision, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco yesterday declared that gays and lesbians have no constitutional right to marry in California, and that any change giving them that right must come from state lawmakers or the voters rather than the legal system.

This decision reverses a lower-court ruling in San Francisco made last year which said that a 1977 state law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman violated the state Constitution by denying gays and lesbians the right to marry the partners of their choice.

As you can imagine, there are many disappointed folks here in the Bay Area---folks who got “married” in February 2004 in a “marriage spree” in San Francisco, when SF Mayor Gavin Newsome agreed to give marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

When that “marriage spree” was going on then, I remember thinking what a half-baked idea this mayor has inflicted upon these people: oblivious to the impending court challenges that will come from it: a great disservice to gays and lesbians, who now see their “unions” in real “limbo.”

Anyway, some folks are saying that the Court of Appeals has offered no rationale for the law other than a discriminatory tradition.

"If other courts had followed this line of reasoning, we would still have segregation,'' said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

I have to disagree with the counselor. According to the Court of Appeals’ presiding Judge, William McGuiness, there were major differences between this case and the California Supreme Court's landmark 1948 ruling that struck down the state's ban on interracial marriage.

As a local newspaper reports: “That ruling did not purport to change the traditional definition of marriage, McGuiness said. Instead, it took aim at the law's perpetuation of racial discrimination, which -- unlike discrimination based on sexual orientation -- is condemned in the U.S. Constitution, McGuiness said.”

And in a flourish that would make any proponent of reason (rationality) in public discourse sing for joy, especially those who see the happy marriage between reason and faith—as famously enunciated by Pope Benedict in his now famous address at the University in Regensburg, Germany the presiding Judge says:

"We believe it is rational for the Legislature to preserve the opposite-sex definition of marriage, which has existed throughout history and which continues to represent the common understanding of marriage in most other countries and states of our union.”

The next step in this continuing saga is the California State Supreme Court.

Powered by Blogger