Thursday, August 05, 2010

facts, love over h8

"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license," wrote Judge Vaughn R. Walker, in his decision yesterday. He continued, "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 California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and 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."

The 138-page document includes many "findings of fact," which is important because, as Dahlia Lithwick writes, "appellate courts must defer far more to a judge's findings of fact than conclusions of law." Among those facts:

"Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions."

"The sexual orientation of an individual does not determine whether that individual can be a good parent."

This last is particularly important, because that is the issue that finally caused the original Proposition 8 to pass in California. According to David Fleischer's article in the Los Angeles Times, the tipping point was white liberal parents changing their vote out of fear that their children might be "indoctrinated" into "turning gay" through exposure to same-sex marriages.

We know that emotion can be more powerful than intellect, so Judge Walker's reliance on facts and rationality is only part of the long-term solution. Let us continue to share stories of long-term commitment and tales of the negative consequences of unjust laws/behaviors. That will provide emotional support for this struggle.

Facts do help inform emotions, over time, and the trend is toward acceptance. According to many polls, a slim majority opposes same-sex marriage, but a significant majority approves of some legal recognition (either civil unions or marriage). And this CBS News/New York Times report finds "Support for same sex marriage is now at its highest point since CBS News starting asking about it in 2004."

For now, let us celebr8


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