On Monday and Tuesday February 16th and 17th, thousands of people from throughout California went to Sacramento to lobby the State Legislature. The Assembly is considering HR5 and the Senate is considering SR7. These are resolutions which, if adopted, would ask the California State Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8 since, it constitutes not merely an Amendment but a Revision of our State’s Constitution.
An Amendment is a change or addition that does NOT conflict with the underlying principles of the Constitution. A Revision changes and disrupts an underlying principle. Equality under the law is a core underlying principle. Proposition 8 violates the Equality Guarantee of the California Constitution, which says that all Californians are to be treated the same under the laws of the state. The Equality Guarantee is an underlying principle ensuring that laws passed by a majority must apply equally to all people.
The majority got to keep its right to marry and used Prop 8 to take away the right to marry from a minority (LGBT people) making the minority unequal under the law. In their original decision, the California Supreme Court corrected an inequality. Prop 8 reinstated unequal treatment under the law. If Prop 8 is upheld, it creates a dangerous precedent by allowing the majority to take away a fundamental right from a minority. This puts the rights of all minorities at risk.
Prop 8 “doesn’t fit” into our state constitution, because it directly contradicts the California Constitution’s core principle of equality. It forces the law to treat same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples. In May of 2008, the California Supreme Court said that the California Constitution guarantees the “basic civil right” of marriage for all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation. The Court used the Constitution’s core principle of equality to affirm that same-sex couples should be treated the same as opposite-sex couples.
Additionally, Prop 8 undermines the Court’s role, it takes away its ability to be the enforcer of equality and to protect any minority from unequal treatment under the law. Prop 8 puts all minorities at risk by stopping the Court from providing a “check” on the power of a simple majority. In this, Prop 8 constitutes not merely an Amendment of our State’s Constitution , but rather a Revision of the State’s Constitution. Since this is the case, Prop 8 should be overturned since it failed to follow the revision process which requires 2/3rds approval by the State Legislature AND a ballot majority vote.
What can you do? If you are a California state resident, please call and/or write your Assembly Member and Senator. Ask them to vote YES on HR5 and SR7. We’re not just fighting for the right to civil marriage for all Californians, we’re fighting to protect all minority groups in our state from discrimination.
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