Sanity prevailed in Federal Court this week where California’s Prop 8 was shot down as unconstitutional. This once again makes it possible for same sex couples to marry on the left coast, or at least it will at some point again. That is unless the Supreme Court opts to overturn the ruling.
What I found most interesting was the rationale behind the ruling. Essentially the judge declared that under the Equal Protection Clause the state had no vested interest in discriminating against homosexuals. Therefore, their rights to equal status under the law was the prevailing rule.
First, the Equal Protection Clause is part of the 14th amendment, which is currently under attack from the right for allowing “anchor babies”. Could it be that the push to repeal the 14th is also a veiled push to remove the Equal Protections Clause? It’s not clear how sweeping any proposed repeal would be, but should this effort get as far as an actual drafted text, it would be worth more than a passing bit of scrutiny to assure we don’t lose some essential Constitutional protection of our rights and freedoms in the mix. After all, Conservatives are all about rights and freedoms protected by the Constitution, so there shouldn’t be much of a fight there.
Secondly, if this ruling stands, it strikes me as a potential precedent for striking down other laws infringing personal freedoms. I’m unsure how broadly this can be interpreted, and there are always arguments about what constitutes a vested interest by the state. Minimally, it seems antiquated sodomy laws and other intrusions by the state into the lives of consenting adults should be struck down. But what about something like using marijuana? The health implications are not worse than the use of alcohol and tobacco, both of which are legal. Previous claims of pot as a gateway drug have been repeatedly debunked. It’s not at all clear what the vested interest of the state is in outlawing the drug.
The demise of Prop 8 is worthy of applause in and of itself, and I hope the high court agrees, or at least agrees to ignore it. After all, comprehensive analysis of the consequences of gay marriage (as depicted in the chart below) seem will within tolerance levels.
But I’ll be very curious to see if this is a precedent for future rulings to keep the government contained to its appropriate domain. This is a victory for true small government advocates. The Tea Party should be cheering. They love freedom.