(c) by Mary Griggs
Yesterday, the California Supreme Court announced the 6-1 decision to uphold voter-driven discrimination against gay and lesbian couples. “Prop 8,” was a statewide voter initiative which redefined marriage in California as between a man and a woman and narrowly passed in November 2008 after a highly contentious effort from both sides of the marriage equality issue.
The Executive Director of the National LGBT Bar Association summed up my feelings pretty well when he said: “It is a sad day when the courts, charged with protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority, uphold a system where fundamental rights are decided by popular vote.”
Banning same-sex couples from marriage is unfair. Same-sex couples have the same hopes, dreams and concerns for their families as everyone else. We should be allowed the dignity, recognition, and responsibility that come with marriage, just like everyone else.
In our society, marriage is not simply a religious institution. The Government Accounting Office lists 1,138 legal rights that are conferred upon heterosexual married couples. By not being allowed to get married, lesbians and gays are denied not just the legal and economic benefits but all the emotional and social benefits and responsibilities of marriage as well.
As much as their decision disappoints us, we are relieved the California Court protected the 16,000 couples who married before November 5. The presence of thousands of married same-sex couples across California will show those who don’t yet know us that marriage strengthens families and communities and threatens no one.
Today’s decision in California does not reflect the progress being made across this country for equal rights. The tide is turning. There are now six states which embrace marriage equality for same-sex couples, and several more are on the brink.
We must not give up.
We must not back down.