Last Thursday, the California Supreme Court deemed a ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. The decision, from a historically conservative court, puts California on the unprecedented path to potentially become the second state to allow the marriage of same-sex couples (Massachusetts is the first).
The 4-3 decision, prepared by Chief Justice Ronald George, stated, "In contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation."
What took them so long?
It is invigorating to know that the minds of people and governments are changing, and equality is becoming an actualized right for all. However, the road to a permanent decision is more convoluted than it may seem.
More than a few large, conservative groups are disappointed with the forward-thinking decision, some calling it an "undemocratic" act of judicial overreaching. These opponents believe that the opinions of the seven justices should not counteract the "will" of Californians. Their mission: to get a measure placed on the California ballot in November, giving voters the opportunity to voice their opinions on same-sex civil rights. The measure would advocate for the creation of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, annulling the equal marriage rights momentarily enacted. The movement has already garnered more than 1.1 million signatures, and continues to grow as more Californians hear about the recent judicial proceedings.
This isn't good for those of us who believe the court's current decision was a long-overdue step forward in civil rights. Historically, Californians have voted more conservatively in equal marriage laws. Most recent was 2000's Proposition 22, which strengthened a 1978 law that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
While I, as most of us, would agree that a democratic decision is important to the foundational laws in our state and nation, without the commitment of those who advocate for equal marriage, the recent win could be pretty short-lived.
As the most populous and one of the most diverse states in the union, California has consistently led the way in reform and modernization. The new opportunity for all Californians to marry can be given and taken away so easily, it makes me feel a little pang of disappointment in our great state.
No matter how forward-thinking, progressive and accepting we might believe our nation or state is, there always seem to be certain decisions made by our representatives or fellow citizens that let us down. Rather than regretting letting others make these decisions after the fact, by voicing ourselves as the issues arise, we can regain the sense of pride that many of us have lost in our county.
If anything, the volatility of the same-sex marriage issue should push us to be active. If a measure is put on the ballot - which is likely - our actions can set precedent, and we can become the next state in what I hope will be a long list of other states to practice the equality that our nation is built upon.