As I’m sure all of you know, two big cases (for LGBT rights, that is) were heard today and yesterday by the Supreme Court. Prop 8 is especially important to me because my partner and decided over four years ago–when Prop 8 passed–not to get married until the institution is defined–in our state of California–without discrimination.
I’ve written about it here and here, but I realize that some of my readers might not know what I’m talking about so I’ll recap a little. Over four years ago, Mi.Vida and I started talking about getting married. We were about to start trying to have a child and we felt the first logical step was to tie the knot. We never planned to do anything big, but we did want to stand in front of the people we most cared about and declare and our love and commitment for each other.
Then Prop 8 passed, amending the California constitution to define marriage as only between a man and woman. This voter initiative passed months after gay marriage had been legalized, leaving thousands of married LGBT couples unsure of where they’re unions stood in the eyes of the state.
Mi.Vida and I quickly decided that we no longer wanted to join into the institution of marriage in our state if it was defined by prejudice and discrimination. Because civil unions are only offered to same sex couples in California, we were forced to become domestic partners in the city of San Francisco, a mostly symbolic gesture that didn’t actually grant either of us any rights as the other’s partner. We exchanged rings and vows at the court house, with our immediate family watching, but we did not become man and wife. It definitely felt like something was missing.
In the last four years we watched the progress of Pop 8 in California carefully. We were thrilled when it was deemed unconstitutional but knew we still had a long wait ahead of us before it would be heard by the Supreme Court.
And now it has. The justices have many avenues open to them. Because of the case itself, they could uphold the California court ruling without even mentioning gay marriage at all, if they determine that the organization that is arguing against gay marriage lacks the standing to do so. They could also uphold the ruling in California by declaring Prop 8 in violation of the California constitution. Finally, they could make a sweeping declaration that marriage is everyone’s right, everywhere, effectively forcing gay marriage on the 41 states that don’t currently allow it.
Most people seem to be expecting (or at least hoping) that Prop 8 will be overturned in California but few think the judges will make any sweeping declaration about gay marriage in the United States; it just seems unlikely that they will do so when there are other, less divisive, avenues to pursue. And for right now, honestly, I’m okay with that. I don’t know if this country is ready to give equal rights to all (so sad to say that), but I do think it will happen in my life time. And I sure as hell hope it happens in California really soon, because I want to stand in front of my friends and family and declare my love and commitment to my partner. And I want to do it entering into an institution of marriage that is defined by love and respect, not by fear and exclusion.