A civil rights issue

Upsetting news surfaced during the watershed elections of 2008: three states âÄî California, Florida and Arizona âÄî passed gay marriage bans, illustrating that perhaps America is still conflating a civil rights issue as a social issue. The battle to pass the ban was most pitched in California, after its Supreme Court in May correctly held that the state Constitution protects same-sex marriage. The California Court, with only one Democratic-appointed justice, held the state must show a compelling, necessary interest in discriminating against gay couples âÄî thus classifying sexual orientation with race, gender and religion under the equal protections clause. Civil rights groups will begin filing suit over the ban, and if the Court has any sense, it will agree that the ban was, as the groups will argue, a sweeping revision of the state constitution that breaches federal and state constitutional authority. Opponents of same-sex marriage posited feeble arguments that havenâÄôt passed legal muster: that in allowing same-sex marriage, the California Court meddled with the historic definition of the term. While in a religious or even social context that might be true, the argument not only lacks constitutional authority because the equal protections clause in the Fourteenth Amendment says that no state shall deny its citizens equal protections of the law, it also lacks logic and belies on irrational fears of what should be a basic civil rights issue. Indeed, if thereâÄôs any assurance from the news, itâÄôs that it highlights same-sex marriage proponents have logic and sound legal reasoning on their side.