Today was a sad day for California’s constitution and marked a setback for our state Supreme Court. While the principle of a majority vote is an important part of the melody of democracy, without the tonic and grounding notes that protect the rights of minorities from the fears and tyranny of the majority, our song is discordant, and our democracy disfigured.
Last May the Court eloquently ruled that marriage was more than a bundle of rights and responsibilities, and that all couples must be treated equally. During the oral arguments in March, I was surprised to hear some of the justices, in their effort to protect parts of their previous decision in the face of Proposition 8, pulling back to imply that marriage is but a word.
We know that marriage is more than a word, and that equality matters now as much as it did then. The good news is that those of us who were blessed to be able to legally marry during the short window of opportunity will continue to live our lives out loud. California’s skies will not fall, pigs won’t fly and hell won’t freeze and the presence of married same sex couples will live out what is possible to a world that would deny their commitment. In the absence of dire predictions, hope will blossom and those couples now denied their right to marry will be granted that possibility in some new day. And that day will come.
California must now be a leader in overturning such a blot on our constitution. The conversation and campaign in California will ripple out beyond our state and beyond marriage. Together we will see the day when men and women serving in our armed forces can safely receive the support of their loved ones without losing their jobs. We will see the day when youth are safe in school. We will see the day when the religious doctrines of some are not used to deny the rights of others. We will win the freedom to marry for all couples who want to pledge a life of mutual accountability and support. We will get there by standing shoulder to shoulder with others who are also in need, and by leading with the Spirit of Love.
It would have been a blessing if the Court had fully reaffirmed equal protection before the law. Clearly, there is more work to be done. Love will guide us.