Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fighting the liars and bigots

I always said that the people backing California’s Proposition 8 were bigots and liars. I said that because of two things: First, since there was no logical reason to take away gay and lesbian people’s right to marry, their motivation was religious bigotry. I called them liars for an obvious reason: They blatantly lied in their ads promoting Prop 8 and when they weren’t lying they were distorting truth, which amounts to the same thing.

During the campaign, the Yes on 8 people claimed they were only interested in outlawing same-sex marriage, but had no interest in the 18,000 same-sex marriages that had already taken place. Even in the days after the election, an AP story said, “Supporters of the ban said they will not seek to invalidate the marriages already performed and will leave any legal challenges to others.” The Yes on 8 people were lying.

Despite what they promised in the campaign and in the days after, this past Friday the Yes on 8 campaign did what I always said they would do: They filed a brief with the California Supreme Court arguing that the existing same-sex marriages must be nullified because the new law declares that only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized or valid in California.

In the aftermath of the vote, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said that all 18,000 marriages would remain legal. He also said he would defend Prop 8 against legal challenges under the California constitution. But after further study of the implications of Prop 8, on Friday, he, too, reversed his early position and asked the California Supreme Court to invalidate Prop 8, saying "Proposition 8 must be invalidated because the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification."

Predictably, the wingnuts are apoplectic, though I think they’re faking it for PR value. When the challenges to Prop 8 were filed, Yes on 8 demanded to be able to lead the defence because they said that Brown wouldn’t do so, or wouldn’t be forceful enough for their liking. They ultimately hired the reviled Kenneth Starr who led the persecution harassment witchhunt investigation of President Bill Clinton. Starr’s enthusiasm for backing the far right on its crusades was evident in the attempt to nullify same sex marriages, a brief he co-wrote. It’s something they didn’t need to do to defend their ballot measure—they could have done as they tried to make us believe they would do and leave it to others to litigate. But that wouldn’t have fulfilled what was clearly their goal and plan all along.

There are plenty of people—not all of them on the right—who say that Prop 8 is done, and opponents should work on a repeal effort. That ignores the fundamental problem with Prop 8: A simple majority vote fundamentally altered the California constitution to take away the rights of a minority. If this is allowed to stand, ALL minorities are at risk. Human rights can never be put to a popular vote because at any given time the hated minority of the moment is at risk from the tyranny of the majority.

Every concept of justice as well as fairness demands that the California Supreme Court invalidate Prop 8. Jerry Brown was right to change his position. The Yes on 8 people didn’t change their position on those 18,000 marriages, they just revealed their true agenda—and reinforced yet again why they’re called liars and bigots: It’s because they are.

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