Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Separate but Equal" upheld in California

Today’s ruling is profoundly disappointing. As California State Supreme Court, Justice Moreno noted in his eloquent dissent:

"I realize, of course, that the right of gays and lesbians to marry in this state has only lately been recognized. But that belated recognition does not make the protection of those rights less important. Rather, that the right has only recently been acknowledged reflects an age-old prejudice that makes the safeguarding of that right by the judiciary all the more critical …
Proposition 8 represents an unprecedented instance of a majority of voters altering the meaning of the equal protection clause by modifying the California Constitution to require deprivation of a fundamental right on the basis of a suspect classification. The majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution".

The words of Justice Moreno “The [state supreme court] majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution” will most probably be lost on the vast majority of this state’s citizens.

People have become so intent on the goal of their “side” that most have forgotten the principles that make civil society “civil.” Democracy, the rule of the majority, can work only when the rights of minorities within that society are protected. US Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer has said:

"The Supreme Court must promote the rights of minorities and look beyond the Constitution’s text when necessary to ensure that ‘no one gets too powerful".

Social conservatives often refer to judges such as Moreno and Breyer as “activist judges”. The term itself was coined after the decision Brown vs. Board of Education by the US Supreme Court. That landmark case threw out the 1896 ruling in Plessy vs. Ferguson by the same court, which established “separate but equal” as the law of the land.

Today’s ruling by our state Supreme Court probably has all the technical correctness of Plessy vs. Ferguson and none of the justice of Brown vs. Board of Education. Today, the civil rights of all minority groups in California are placed at risk. The principle established by today’s court ruling is that a simple majority of the electorate may, at will, violate the equal protection clause of the state constitution.

We know that we will win this battle at the ballot box. We know that the numbers are on our side and that we have reached a cultural tipping point on this issue. We will overcome this injustice in November of 2010 when we repeal Prop 8 through the ballot initiative process. No minority group in this state or in this country should be required to secure its rights through a simple majority vote. If Blacks had been required to do this, Rosa Parks would still have to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. Obama would not sit in the Oval Office and would most probably not be permitted to sit in most restaurants in Washington, D.C.

Justice Moreno’s words accurately and chillingly convey what happened in California today. Today’s ruling, “is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution”.


SO Katie said...

I was at the protest in Sacramento, and the best part was when a Catholic AIDS activist got up and talked about her gay brother who died of AIDS. She started quoting from the Bible, and saying how her Bishop visited their family till his dying day ... and reading from the Bible. The Yes on H8ters who were there, started walking away. Awesome!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you Father, it's a sad day when minority groups can be bullied by the majority. Have you ever done any research into the Domestic Partnership Initiative? It's a movement aiming to take "marriage" out of California legal text in order to provide equal rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation (by labeling all state recognized couples as "domestic partners"). You can find plenty of news articles on it, or go to dompar.org. I am sure they would love to hear your take on the entire Prop 8 debate.

Fr. Marty Kurylowicz said...

Thank you again for all you did to help California to win this crucial vote. It is a sad day not just for LGBTQ people, their families and friends but for everyone. No one benifits when any group or anyone are denied civil rights, it means no one is safe.

It sure is disappointing and it is hard to get up again, but get again is what we have to do, just like so many people before us did for us. Always the best to you, Marty

Kevin said...

Amen! There is a beautiful song that you can check out on You tube. It's called,"Cry of the poor". Although it deals with the hungry, the poor in spirit come in many ways. The verse is "The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Blessed be the Lord!"


Anonymous said...

The far right ring element in our society is most frightening to say the least. I think so many of our citizens have short memories.

It was the far right thinking that gave rise to the Nazi and Facist regimes in the early part of the last century. It was the far right thinkers that kept Franco in power in Spain.

What has happened in California is very upseting and cruel. This action will give credence to the belief that might makes right in dealing with social issues.

Homosexual people are not evil people but persecuted people.

We want our rights! Like so many searching for their rights in our recent past history we must do so in peace and moderation. To dispaly anger and agressive behaviour will not be beneficial.

My sisters and brothers please march in silence and tell your story with love.

Fr Vince

Bill said...

Dear Father--You have my support and my most sincere prayers. You have paid such a high price for speaking out. So many of us are in debt to you.

May His blessings be upon you.


Sister Mary Agnes said...

Why hasn't Obama said anything on Prop 8? Would Hillary have been a better choice?

Steven said...

It seems like this has opened up Pandora's Box as to how far mankind will go to legislate discrimination. I only fear which minority group will be next or if civil rights, already established, will ever be rescinded by the will of the people just because they put together a proposition. Society definitely is losing its civility.

Anonymous said...

From "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" Martin Luther King Jr.

..."An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal."

Greg (Lives near Yosemite and SF)

WifeandMom said...

I agree with Steven. Once one minority is stripped of its basic human civil rights, it opens up the door for more minority groups to suffer in the same way.

This is a sad outcome and I only hope that when we go back to the ballot to repeal Prop 8, that the campaign is a bit more fair. This last time, all we heard were ads with lies and scare tactics that worked to scare people out of their senses and their use of common sense and civility. Let's pray that next time it's more of a fair fight!


In 1963, the CA legislature passed the Rumford Fair Housing Law forbiding discrimination in housing. It was too progressive for most realty businesses, so they spearheaded an initiative passed by the voters that repealed it the next year.
After a long legal struggle, the Supreme Court declared the initiative void & CA passed another version of the Rumford Act, before the Federal Fair Housing Law of Apr 1968.
Take heart, after a long struggle, even in CA, justice might prevail!!!