Court strikes down California's Prop 8
Yesterday, the California Supreme Court struck down the recently-passed state ban on gay marriage that was adopted by referendum (the infamous Proposition 8). The decision, which takes effect in 30 days, clears the path for gay people to be legally married in the state of California, even if they are not residents of the state.
This is a victory similar to the victory we had in Oregon, back in 2008.
Justice Vaughn Walker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California wrote: "[Prop 8] fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. … Because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional."
One weakness of the argument in favor of Prop 8, it seems, was the inability of proponents to demonstrate (indeed, even to articulate) how gay marriages might harm heterosexual marriages.
Appeal is a certainty. This case will eventually be presented to the Supreme Court, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence. But keep in mind, one of the legal eagles that is arguing the case against Prop 8 is former Solictor General under Junior Bush, Ted Olson, demonstrating that this issue does not fall neatly into the left/right dichotomy that allows for reflexive judgment.
NYC gives nod to Muslim Cultural Center
"I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime - as important a test - and it is critically important that we get it right." --NYC Mayor Michael BloombergIn spite of hysterical protests from the Anti-Defamation League, Sister Sarah, and Newt Gingrich, New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission voted against ascribing landmark status to a vacant building in lower Manhattan. This clears the way for plans to build a Muslim cultural center on the site, which is located near One World Trade Center.
Mayor Bloomberg, flanked by clergymen of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, delivered an impassioned defense of the decision. You can read his remarks here.
This is not a popular decision, but it is a courageous one. A recent poll revealed that New York City voters oppose construction of the cultural center by a 52% to 31% margin. Bloomberg and the Landmarks Preservation Commission are flatly rejecting the obvious hysteria, race-baiting, and demagoguery of right-wing opportunists who have the popular winds at their backs.
Opposition to the cultural center seems to center around the dubious argument that it is insensitive to the feelings of the families of 911 victims. But, I'm afraid I don't see how peoples feelings have much to do with it. If the owners of the property are acting within their rights, no one has anything to say about it. Just as racists are free to wear pillow cases on their heads and say ignorant, ugly things, Muslims are free to exercise their property rights.
And further, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a nationwide group founded by family members of those killed on 9/11 issued the following statement:
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows strongly supports efforts to bring an Islamic Cultural Center to lower Manhattan, near the Ground Zero site. We believe that welcoming the Center, which is intended to promote interfaith tolerance and respect, is consistent with fundamental American values of freedom and justice for all.This fight isn't over yet. An advocacy group founded by right-wing Bible-thumper Pat Robertson, the American Center for Law and Justice, plans to file suit to stop the construction. So be it.
In any case, today, I want to acknowledge these victories. The fight continues, but the good guys have scored a couple wins. Take heart!