Thursday, May 15, 2008

California Sup. Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

THE CALIFORNIA Supreme Court just overturned that state's ban on same-sex marriage. The full decision can be found here. Governor Schwarzenegger has said he "would abide" by the Supreme Court decision and repeated his opposition to the constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Here are a few quotes from the Court's decision:

In light of the fundamental nature of the substantive rights embodied in the right to marry — and their central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society — the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all individuals and couples, without regard to their sexual orientation.

It is true, of course, that as an historical matter in this state marriage always has been limited to a union between a man and a woman. Tradition alone, however, generally has not been viewed as a sufficient justification for perpetuating, without examination, the restriction or denial of a fundamental constitutional right. (Cf. Perez, supra, 32 Cal.2d 711, 727; Sail’er Inn, Inc. v.
Kirby (1971) 5 Cal.3d 1, 17-19 (Sail’er Inn).)


There is, however, no authority whatsoever to support the proposition that an individual who is physically incapable of bearing children does not possess a fundamental constitutional right to marry. Such a proposition clearly is untenable. A person who is physically incapable of bearing children still has the potential to become a parent and raise a child through adoption or through means of assisted reproduction, and the constitutional right to marry ensures the individual the opportunity to raise children in an officially recognized family with the person with whom the individual has chosen to share his or her life. Thus, although an important purpose underlying marriage may be to channel procreation into a stable family relationship, that purpose cannot be viewed as limiting the constitutional right to marry to couples who are capable of biologically producing a child together.

I'll have to gather my thoughts about this in a subsequent post. But this is great news for the advancement of equality and civil rights.

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