Gay marriage threatened

Opponents are asking the court to stay its decision until the elections in November.

California’s attorney general last week urged the state’s Supreme Court to finalize its ruling which legalized same-sex marriage amid a local opposition arguing that the court should wait until November, when voters in California might consider the issue on a ballot initiative. Attorneys general from ten other states have also asked the court in a letter to stay the ruling until November elections.

Members of the California Supreme Court, who were all appointed by Republicans, save one, provided rational legal arguments for proponents of same-sex marriage and added some legitimacy needed to win this civil rights battle.

The decision held that California must show a compelling, necessary interest – strict scrutiny – when potentially discriminating against gay couples, thereby classifying sexual orientation with race, gender and religion under the equal protections clause. The significance of this holding should not be overlooked. Neither should the court’s argument that not applying the term marriage to same-sex couples under the law is no different than not applying it to interracial couples.

The term “marriage” seems to be what opponents are set on defending, arguing that the court meddled with its historic definition. But the ruling did not mandate the use of the term. The court held that California, in using a term to legally define marriage, must apply the same term to same-sex and opposite-sex marriages alike. It provides legal immunity to same-sex couples against the ideological ammunition opposition groups have been using to keep them from marrying.

We believe this battle is best fought and won in the courts – not in the ideological battles that have been fought over the issue. In the past, California’s court used sound legal reasoning to protect same-sex couples, and that decision should be upheld.