Friday, November 21, 2008

upcoming challenges to CA's prop 8

It's been a busy couple of weeks here in San Francisco since the November 4th election when a slim majority of Californians voted to overturn queer marriage rights. An
impromptu march, organized primarily through Facebook, Twitter and other internet sites, took place November 7th from SF's City Hall through the Castro to Dolores Park. Just over a week later, Join the Impact unified queer communities and their allies across the nation in concurrent protests.

Navel-gazing, angry San Franciscans examined any and all election results available to see what went wrong. A good 25% of the city's residents voted in support of prop 8; the SF Chronicle recently published a citywide map that allows users to determine the percentage of voters in each neighborhood who supported--or opposed--the proposition. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my neighborhood, where older Asian families rub up against houses packed with twentysomethings, voted 70-90% NO on 8. Some neighborhoods voting YES were obvious, such as Chinatown, but other districts, like SOMA, a semi-affluent loft playground for upwardly mobile suits, were surprising. The Chronicle also has a searchable database of donors to either side of the proposition 8 campaign. While such technology is necessary for any future fight, by allowing us to see where we need to create change, they also raise the prospect of community boycotts or hateful attacks. The community here has already spent a lot of time inaccurately blaming the black, latino and asian communities for passing prop 8, while few of us have been honest about our own efforts prior to the election. Most people I know, gay or straight, assumed 8 would never pass and did no work on the NO campaign. Sure, there is still work to be done within communities of color, but queers need to be mindful of scapegoating tactics.

In many ways, the fight over proposition 8 is the Stonewall of our generation. Over two weeks after the election, opposition to prop 8 is still making daily headlines, and Join the Impact continues to plan nationwide events, such as December 10th, aka Day Without A Gay. Want to follow the debate? The California Supreme Court has recently agreed to hear several challenges to prop 8. One such case examines the status of marriage rights of the 18,000 queer couples legally married in California. Will the state be forced to nullify those marriages? A second case focuses on the manner in which prop 8 was passed, arguing that a measure that strips a minority group of rights held by others needs to be passed in the legislature and not through a ballot initiative. This is the first instance of using the state constitution to rescind minority rights. A third challenge seeks to prove that prop 8 limits the scope of judicial power and violates the separation of powers guaranteed in the Constitution. Equality California has information on the challenges to proposition 8 for readers looking for extensive explanation of the cases going before the court as well as information on how to stay involved.

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