Since the newswires and the Blogosphere are abuzz with commentary on the California Supreme Court ruling regarding gay marriage (and because we haven’t had enough controversy around here lately), let me throw in my two cents on the ruling:
The decision by the CA Supreme Court was 100% correct, and I applaud and welcome it.
Now, before someone chimes in and goes on about “judicial activism” (an agitprop term that always means “a decision with which I disagree”), let me elaborate.
Government licensure usually depends on qualification by skill. You can receive a license to drive, but you have to prove your proficiency to a government tester first. You can receive a license to practice a medical profession, but you have to provide proof of sufficient education first. Most licensure works in that fashion, and it means that in theory, anyone can obtain a government license by acquiring the necessary skills and qualifications.
If the Constitution of the United States and the state of California both stipulate that the government may not discriminate against an individual based on race, religion, or gender, then the practice of issuing marriage licenses to couples of a specific gender combination most certainly violates these Constitutions, because it denies a government-issued benefit or privilege to someone solely because of their gender.
That’s the problem when government gets into the licensing business–if a benefit is tied to the license, then the qualification for that license must be skill-based, otherwise it’s discrimination. Denying a marriage license to a gay couple is legally and morally on the same level as denying women the right to vote, or blacks the right to marry whites, because it involves the same kind of arbitrary gender- or race-based exclusion.
That’s the entirety of the argument advanced by the California Supreme Court, and it is absolutely on the money. Regardless of how you may feel about gay cooties and the “sanctity of marriage”, that’s the way the cookie crumbles–denying a government license to a couple because of their gender is discrimination. (Of course, government licenses have their root in exactly that. Marriage licenses are right up there with firearms licenses and carry permits as a much-abused tool for social control, because it allowed the local governments in many places to make sure that only acceptably-hued folks would carry guns, and that only similarly-hued couples got married.)
If you want to object and tell me how this country is going down the tubes because we let teh gayz get married and get “special rights”, answer me this before you compose your reply:
1.) What kind of “special rights” do homosexuals claim that aren”t already afforded to straight people?
2.) How exactly does the issuance of a marriage license to a gay couple threaten your marriage? Does it make you love your spouse less, or somehow invalidate your vows?
(And don’t anyone drag out the red herring about people being allowed to marry goats or whatever. A marriage is a contract, and you cannot enter into a contract with anyone but a consenting human being. Livestock and objects cannot give consent or enter into legal contracts.)
Oh, and don’t fling Bible quotes at me. I don’t care what your religion says about homosexuality, because the legal documents in question are the U.S. and California Constitutions, not the Bible or the Koran or what-have-you, and your deity’s view on the matter has absolutely no bearing on the argument.