Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cleaning out the Protest Folder 02

As mayor of the Munchkin horses...
(Photos were taken Saturday night by our friend Robert Galvin.)

I know, it's a lot. I've been sort of overwhelmed by all the stuff going on around me and I am finally coming up for air and have too much to share.

First off, this Saturday there is a National Day of Protest. Anyone who doesn't live in California and has been wishing they could get involved, there is a rally somewhere near you, even in my hometown of Bellingham. If you don't live in California and wonder why you should be bothered with all this, keep reading.

I hear a lot of people who supported Prop 8 saying, "You lost. Get over it." and "The people voted. It's done."

But we didn't loose. They lost. They lost last May when the Supreme Court of California handed down the ruling that being gay and lesbian made you part of a suspect class of people who were discriminated against. People who needed the court system to protect them from majority rule. That was the fascinating part of the ruling that got lost in all this hoopla. That is the reason the California Supreme Court granted Marriage Equality.

Then the other side got all in a snit and went after it with Prop 8. As an end run around the very checks and balances that make our government work. Imagine if after desegregation they had put it to a popular vote, would we still have segregated schools? I mean come on. You guys lost, get over it!

So while this is going to take some time, I believe that the California Supreme Court will have the courage to stand up and strike down this end run around the judgment that they were entrusted with.
Ironically, I've lost my voice and march quietly.
Oh, and now you know that I dress for every occasion.

And that bring us to another part of it. The way that Prop 8 was presented as a "minor revision" to the constitution and not a fundamental alteration. Only Minor adjustments can be made by a simple majority of the voters. Anything on a large scale must be first passed by the legislature and then given to the voters to ratify. So Prop 8 is doubly vexed.

The people who will cry the most when this is once again struck down will shout that their rights have been stripped by activist judges. Just as they cheered when George W. Bush was given the white house by activist judges. Funny, they told all of us to just "get over" that as well.


The people organizing these propositions and amendments aren't stopping at California. They funded and passed hurtful legislation in Arizona, Florida and Arkansas as well this November. There is a great op-ed piece written by Dan Savage in the New York Times, part of which reads:
Beginning on Jan. 1, a grandmother in Arkansas cohabitating with her opposite-sex partner because marrying might reduce their pension benefits is barred from taking in her own grandchild; a gay man living with his male partner cannot adopt his deceased sister’s children.
How very "pro-family" of them. This doesn't stop at California. This doesn't stop at gay. This doesn't stop at children. The Mormon church has been highly involved in this battle since the late 90's in Hawaii and Alaska (I had the distinct displeasure to be on the receiving end of a group of Mormon school children's leader fueled hate-speak while on vacation in Hawaii one year). The Mormon church has also been behind the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment for the US constitution.

I don't blame Mormons who go to church. I don't blame Catholics who attend mass. I don't blame Blacks or Latinos. No one group passed this by themselves. No one group voted 100% in unison for this. I blame individuals who didn't look into what they were voting for. Individuals who bought what the ads told them. Individuals who don't know the difference between religion and the constitution.

But every great cause needs a villain. For the Mormons it's the gays. Since I can't get behind the vilification of a whole group, I will lay the blame at the leaders. I blame the leaders of the Mormon Church. I blame the leaders of the Catholic church (I've been saying that for years now). And I blame a whole lot of people who have the best intentions but sit idly by and let others speak for them.

A couple of great posts that I have been reading and I can recommend:
Rolfe Schmidt - How Many Souls Did You Save?
Jasmyne Cannick - The Gay-Black Divide

Love that sign.

8 comments:

Michael Ejercito said...

On the amendment v. revision issue, it is important to look at the relevant case law.

In People v. Anderson (1972), the California Supreme Court had ruled "that capital punishment is both cruel and unusual as those terms are defined under article I, section 6, of the California Constitution, and that therefore death may not be exacted as punishment for crime in this state." In that same decision, the Court noted that the "cruel or unusual punishment clause of the California Constitution, like other provisions of the Declaration of Rights, operates to restrain legislative and executive action and to protect fundamental individual and minority rights against encroachment by the majority. It is the function of the court to examine legislative acts in light of such constitutional mandates to ensure that the promise of the Declaration of Rights is a reality to the individual."

Later that same year, voters passed an initiative which constitutionalized the death penalty. This initiative affected the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, a right of a minority.

Lawyers for Lavelle Frierson, in their appeal of his death sentence, argued that the initiative amounted to a revision. The Court rejected that argument in People v. Frierson .

So case law states that amendments can be used to reduce (and extend) the scope of the cruel and unusual punishment clause.

Rachel said...

Yes, but that was over 30 years ago. What case law has transpired since then?

I had no idea the Mormon Church was behind the ERA not passing. That sucks big time.

Michael Ejercito said...

Yes, but that was over 30 years ago. What case law has transpired since then?
None, no initiative since then has been found to be an illegitimate revision.

dit said...

Very well said Jim. Lets hope they rule in favor of the minority this time. Will see you at the rally on Saturday.

Rachel said...

"None, no initiative since then has been found to be an illegitimate revision."

Well, I guess we'll see what happens this time. This is a civil rights issue. People's civil liberties are at stake here. We've come a long way since 1972, I hope.

And hope is a powerful thing.

Michael Ejercito said...

This is a civil rights issue. People's civil liberties are at stake here. We've come a long way since 1972, I hope.
People's civil liberties, indeed, their lives were at stake in 1979 when People v. Frierson was decided. The Supreme Court refused to overturn an initiative that added Section 27 to the California constitution's Declaration of Rights:

SEC. 27. All statutes of this State in effect on February 17, 1972,
requiring, authorizing, imposing, or relating to the death penalty
are in full force and effect, subject to legislative amendment or
repeal by statute, initiative, or referendum.
The death penalty provided for under those statutes shall not be
deemed to be, or to constitute, the infliction of cruel or unusual
punishments within the meaning of Article 1, Section 6 nor shall such
punishment for such offenses be deemed to contravene any other
provision of this constitution


This new section was added after the Court had ruled that "that capital punishment is both cruel and unusual as those terms are defined under article I, section 6, of the California Constitution, and that therefore death may not be exacted as punishment for crime in this state".

Section 27 certainly has a farther-reaching scope that Section 7.5; it was literally a life or death issue, while Section 7.5 defines a single word

Lyle said...

"Its important to look at..."

There are much more enlightened & learned LAWYERS, CITY ATTORNEYS & BAR ASSOCIATIONS out there writing out against the validity of prop 8.

Michael Guy said...

er, Like what "Lyle" says.

BTW: you look marvelous in coat and glasses.