Election Reaction, Part II

If I were Governor of California, and had a cooperative legislature, and didn’t mind being recalled, I would make the following declarations:

  1. That, with the passage of Prop 8, all same-sex marriage are null and void.

  2. That, due to the California Constitution’s declaration of equality among all citizens, I have no choice but to render all marriages in California null and void.
  3. That the State of California henceforth considers marriage to be a religious matter. In order to respect religious freedom it will no longer issue marriage licenses to anyone, and the definition of marriage will therefore be up to individual churches.
  4. That the State of California is establishing a civil union status, available to any two consenting adults, to encapsulate certain legal benefits formerly associated with marriage.
  5. That all couples whose marriages were recently nullified by Prop 8 or government decree will automatically receive civil unions.

Needless to say, this would never actually happen, and it would do nothing to placate the anti-gay bigots who voted for Prop 8 (although it sure would be fun to take away their marriages too). But I do think getting government out of the marriage business entirely is the right move. Supporters of small government should be all for it!

21 thoughts on “Election Reaction, Part II

  1. Zifnab

    AG: I agree, your proposal would be fair and I’m all for it. Even speaking as someone who would be affected by it, I don’t think it’s right that I have those rights when other couples are disallowed them by virtue of their sexual orientation.
    What appears to be more likely at the moment is that there are several legal challenges about Prop 8’s passing, some of which have (what looks like to me, not a lawyer) fairly strong legal basis to prevent it.
    A similar proposition (with the same goals) passed in CA in 2000 and was overturned as unconstitutional. While the form was different (and thus does not directly apply), the hopeful thing is that the 2000 proposition passed by a large margin and evidenced by Prop 8 this year that margin is dropping dramatically, especially among the younger voters. That doesn’t change the damage done, but it does give some hope for the future.

  2. Mason Porter

    My general election reaction was that I am basically really happy about everything with the very strong exception of this piece of crap legislation.
    What saddens me most is that so many of the people voting for this are presumably completely reasonable about so many other things. For this it seems that the vision suddenly becomes cloudy.
    AG: I would love to see your scenario happen, but I won’t hold my breath either.

  3. Nick

    As much as I would love to see that happen, I suspect that Zifnab’s prediction is more likely.
    That would be one hell of a way to end your career, though. Who knows, it’s California, maybe it’s a good way to take a few year’s vacation and then get elected in landslide victory? I’m not sure what the campaign would be, though; ‘Vote for me, I do what’s right even when told to do what’s wrong’?

  4. Nick

    On second thought, I’m just barely enough of a terrible person to propose the following alternative:
    1, 2, and 3 as Travis suggests pass. Part 4 fails to pass; CA is left with no form of marital / civil union status. A few years pass while the CA bureaucracy deadlocks. In these few years the state’s demographics change dramatically. Civil unions come up in a few year and pass by a wide majority, with Travis’ clause 5 included.
    I can’t claim that I’d actually want to see this happen, but it would be the widest-scale schadenfreude in living memory.

  5. Cheryl

    I’m totally down with having a civil union from CA, and having my marriage be just a matter between Eric, God, and moi. The European way (civil unions, religious marriage) seems fair all the way around.
    Much as part of me is excited about the pending lawsuit(s), I’m hesitant about the courts being the way to properly get this nonsense dealt with…it’s too easily dismissed as “judicial activism.” If we wait until 2010 and it goes up as a prop that directly repeals the previous proposition (much as it would suck to wait), “the people” will have spoken.
    I may have possibly cried election night about this, but I have hope that this will be dealt with in my lifetime.

  6. Mike^2

    Funny thing, having grown up in Europe, I didn’t realize that civil unions and religious marriage weren’t already legally separate over here until recently.
    How often is the supposed rule of separation of church and state actually applied in practice?

  7. Mason Porter

    M^2: As far as I can tell, it seems not so much. This is one of the things that makes me cry because back when I was a kid, I took for granted that it was applied in practice. Then I noticed how things really seemed to work. One of the eye-opening things for me was visiting places that ostensibly are far more religious than the US is and seeing them very specifically not imposing their beliefs on anyone else.

  8. Justin

    Cheryl, in this example the “judicial activism” talking point is even more bullshit than normal. The legislature passed a gay marriage bill (last year IIRC) but the Governator vetoed it while using the reverse of the standard Republican talking points – “let the judges decide”. So they did, and will again sometime in the next few years. Unless a “Repeal 8″ proposition passes while the lawyers are still arguing.
    I thought legal marriage and religious marriage were separate in the US. To be considered “married” you need a license from a state (NV being the easiest choice). I gather many people still have a ceremony in a church, but I can say from personal experience that it’s not necessary. So it seems like a very minor tweak to just name legal marriages “civil unions” or otherwise issue the licenses in a nondiscriminatory fashion.
    My establishment clause question is why the Mormons could openly fund advocacy on Prop 8 without losing their tax-exempt status? Are the Mormons already not tax-exempt? Is advocacy on a Proposition somehow legally different from a priest telling his congregation to vote for Candidate X?
    Overall election reaction: as I recently told Lesleigh, it’s really weird to have an incoming government that one cannot simply assume to be evil…

  9. Zifnab

    Justin: as I understand it, under CA law religious organizations are only prohibited from endorsing candidates for office, not propositions/measures. Hence why several churches were able to donate for 8, the Mormons the largest (donation-wise) of those.

  10. Arcane Gazebo

    Regarding the church/state separation thing, there is the fact that weddings performed in a church are recognized by most states (certainly California) as legally binding. Whereas in most European countries you still have to go to the clerk’s office and get the marriage license separately from the church wedding.
    Effectively, the minister performing the wedding is acting as an agent of the state in issuing the marriage license. This is more than a little odd when you think about it, and probably contributes to the confusion that has allowed the Prop 8 supporters to get away with claiming that churches would be forced to perform same-sex marriage. Anyone with a basic knowledge of how this stuff works knows this is false, but if all you know is that your minister was the one to provide state approval to your marriage, you might think that he would be required to abide by state anti-discrimination rules.
    Nowhere else do we allow literally anyone to act as agent of the state (I can get an ordination from the Universal Life Church over the internet in a matter of minutes and start performing marriages) and at the same time allow them to apply whatever discriminatory rule they want in exercising this power. This alone should be a reason to separate marriage from civil unions.

  11. Mason

    I love the instant marriage license thing. Matt and Sam were married by Shep, for instance. That made it much easier to play The Ride at an appropriate time, so all sorts of good things can come from this.

  12. shellock

    In CT you have to goto town hall first get you licness partially filled out then hand it to the clery to complete at the ceremony. Also in some states you need a blood test to get a marige licenss

  13. Arcane Gazebo

    Shellock: Now that’s just silly, if they’ve already got you at town hall they should just give you the damn license rather than unnecessarily involving the clergy. That just makes it look like the state needs religious approval. (I guess the idea is supposed to be that, for religious couples, it’s the ceremony that makes it “official”. But that’s even more reason to separate the religious and civil concepts of marriage.)
    That said, Connecticut still has one of the more sane marriage policies in the country now that they’ve joined MA in allowing same-sex marriage.

  14. Cheryl

    Justin – to be clear, I totally agree with the BS nature of the “judicial activism” talking point. I have hope, though, that the bigots will start to shut up when it becomes increasingly clear that they are in the minority, as would happen if a proposition directly repealing Prop 8 passed. It would take the wind out of their sails in a way that the court solution just wouldn’t.
    Speaking as a Christian here (music director at a church) – much as I despise what the Mormons et al did, I have serious reservations about churches losing the ability to push for political positions. We do get the right to free speech, and free association with like-minded people. Let’s face it – the Mormons organized and got out the vote of like-minded people in a very effective way – same as the Equality folks (poorly) got out the vote and message against prop 8. No one is questioning the tax-exempt status of the no on 8 folks.
    “I may disagree with you, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
    Very few religious organizations actually are intended as a 1-hour-a-week commitment. Generally, it’s a “we’re trying to reshape our lives to more resemble the Divine” sort of transformation. That means being “of this world” even as you look Heaven-ward. That means occasionally dipping your toe into the political process for the purpose of trying to reshape the world around you – same as the folks fighting for better inner-city schools, or trying to protect whales from the Navy’s sonar…
    I say this belonging to a church that got out the vote AGAINST prop 8 – Bible study was canceled so that we could go man phone banks – my pastor happily “toed the line” on what she could say from the pulpit in a sermon series called “how would Jesus vote?” – we handed out “no on prop 8″ materials at our community recycling event…the other side won, but they won’t win forever.

  15. Zifnab

    Cheryl: You have very good points. I think the thing that bothers me about the situation is not that those churches that told their followers to go and promote the issue, but the churches that directly gave their money to ad campaigns for the issues. That money presumably was gathered via tax-exempt (on both ends – the church does not pay taxes on that incomes, and the donor can claim them as a deductible) tithes due to being a religious organization. Political action committees can only claim it as tax-exempt income, the donor still has to pay taxes on that money.
    That imbalance is the one that bothers me (though not strongly): if we’re going to allow churches to use that money for political issues directly, they should have the same limitations as PAC’s. It’s the difference between J. Random sending 100$ to a church that he doesn’t have to pay taxes on, and that whole 100$ going to a political cause, and the equivalent donation of 70$ (or whatever 100$, post-taxes, for his tax bracket comes to) to a PAC that bothers me.
    I have no problem with churches encouraging their supporters to vote on whatever issues they feel fit to endorse. This seems like a different case entirely, it’s a free speech thing.
    Anyways, it’s great to hear your opinion, and reassuring that some churches have the right idea on Prop 8! :)

  16. Zifnab

    Sigh, after preview looked fine, I found a type. “that those” in my first sentence should be “those”.

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