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California To Rule On Gay Marriage: Good News, Bad News?

May 15th, 2008 | by Daniel DiRito |

Most of us are familiar with the expression, “Be careful what you wish for”, though I suspect it rarely keeps us from spending our time hoping to achieve or attain the things we seek. The fact that the California Supreme Court is set to rule tomorrow on whether the state can deny gays the right to marry will likely be a defining moment in our understanding of the concept of the double edged sword.

On the one hand, those who have waited years to have their relationships recognized may see a favorable ruling as the culmination of a dream come true. On the other hand, a favorable ruling will undoubtedly be seen as a nightmare to those who have expended untold energy seeking to prohibit any recognition of same-sex relationships. Hence, how the two sides absorb the outcome will likely have more meaning than the actual ruling.

The California Supreme Court will rule Thursday on the legality of the state’s ban on gay marriage.

The justices today posted a notation on the court’s Web site that the ruling in the civil rights challenge to the same-sex marriage ban will be posted at 10 a.m. Thursday. The Supreme Court heard arguments in five consolidated legal challenges in March, and had until early June to rule on the issue.

The long-awaited ruling is a crucial test of the simmering public, social and legal debate over gay marriage, triggered in 2004 when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed thousands of gay and lesbian couples to wed before the courts put a halt to the marriage licenses.

A ruling in favor of gay marriage could stoke a political firestorm in the fall if a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage in California makes it onto the ballot. A decision on whether the initiative qualifies for the ballot is expected in June.

As such, tomorrow will bring both the culmination of hopeful expectations and the delivery of disappointment. Needless to say, that means the ruling is apt to inspire one side while inciting the other. How those perceptions are played out in terms of focus found or fear infused will likely have more to do with deciding the future of gay marriage.

So where will that leave us? Frankly, it leaves us where we’ve always been…needing to find the means to communicate with those we don’t understand in order to remove the misconceptions that serve to maintain what has to be viewed as an untenable status quo.

In the end, without real change, today, tomorrow, and the day after are one and the same so long as the issue of gay marriage remains a zero sum equation in the minds of the combatants. Tomorrow will have a winner…but we’d all be wise to realize that it may not be a victory.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

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  1. 13 Responses to “California To Rule On Gay Marriage: Good News, Bad News?”

  2. By queerunity on May 15, 2008 | Reply

    it will be victory if gay marriage is legalized, it will show our opponents they are losing their anti-gay bigoted battle

  3. By rube cretin on May 15, 2008 | Reply

    i do hope you are not able to read comments prepared but not sent. i just deleted one that captured the essence of a comment made by a prominent judge friend of mine during a poker game last evening about the status of marriage among heterosexuals. Based on many years of hearing about the intricate of these marriages he believes they need much improvements. Hope you guys get your wish, but as someone who has been married for over 50 years i can tell you…..

  4. By Daniel DiRito on May 15, 2008 | Reply


    I’m in favor of gay marriage as a matter of equality though I’m also doubtful that the institution of marriage is a functional proposition.

    I can’t imagine availing myself of the privilege should it ever be granted. I’ve never really understood what the document actually added to the relationship.

    I sometimes feel people take a spouse in the same manner they purchase a car…they decide it would be nice to have one, they want to possess one, and then they agree to the exchange that seals the deal.

    I guess in my idealistic moments, I still think love shouldn’t need a document to make it real…or to insure that it’s difficult to leave should love no longer exist.

    Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom.



  5. By Jet Netwal on May 15, 2008 | Reply

    Well, I can only speak for myself, but the concept of marriage, if it was originally made for the right reasons, can help you turn away from temptation or encourage you to try harder. I think it’s the perception of forever, Daniel. It adds to the solemnity of the commitment.

    Again, just me.

  6. By Daniel DiRito on May 15, 2008 | Reply


    I understand what you’re stating but I still struggle to grasp the merit of an action that is intended to prevent something that might otherwise happen.

    Let me attempt an explanation. If I were married and I felt the other person was staying in the marriage out of obligation or some sense of an implied promise of forever, I would want them to feel able to share those feelings, and provide both of us an opportunity to make informed decisions because of them.

    We only get one shot at this life and I’m of the opinion that authenticity should be a priority. With that said, perhaps my feelings are more a result of observing so many failed relationships in which both parties spend precious years being unhappy and unfulfilled…largely out of fear to share authentic feelings.

    Perhaps if more couples would take the risk to do so, more marriages would find the wherewithal to survive. It’s hard to say…reminds me of the chicken or the egg conundrum. Regardless, it seems to me that the core issue should be to first learn how to participate in authentic relationships. If that is achieved, I suspect the rest will take care of itself.

    I think this is a meaningful topic and I would love to hear more of your thoughts.



  7. By rube cretin on May 15, 2008 | Reply

    No words of wisdom. but i will share a comment from a fellow poker player in the same game, who is a very wealthy man who has been divorced three times at great financial cost, “If women did not have a vagina there would be a bounty on the lot of them.”

    It just occurred to me this is not a good thing to put on your site, but what the hell, I’ve been subjected to criticism before for sick humor.

  8. By rube cretin on May 15, 2008 | Reply

    Everyone, please forgive that last comment. guess you had to be there.

  9. By Jet Netwal on May 15, 2008 | Reply

    I think marriage is a lot more serious than people realize when they decide to commit to it, Daniel, and that is why so many people have unhappy marriages. You get tempted to stray in the adult life; we are not naturally monogamus creatures. Acting or choosing not to act, or any shade within that decision spectrum comes back to the individual’s personal commitment and perception of the permanancy of marriage.

    I don’t think everyone is cut out for marriage, but I believe anyone who wants that level of life partnership should have it. It’s not about sexual orientation, but about genuinely wanting the level of relationship you can only get from a lifetime commitment to one person.

  10. By Craig R. Harmon on May 15, 2008 | Reply

    I think the idea of marriage as a relationship that is recognized by the state and sealed with a contract are to assure that the power of the state will be used to protect women, assure her property rights, rights to alimony and child-support and assure her claim to inheritance against challenges by family members of the deceased husband (and, of course, vice versa).

    So, in my opinion, the document adds nothing of importance to the relationship; except perhaps a sense of security for the woman entering what might be a disastrous relationship, that, as so often happens, the man gets tired of her after seven years and his eyes fall upon some younger, prettier woman, the wife will be protected.

    I.e., it ain’t about romance; it’s about the end of romance.

  11. By Ken Grandlund on May 15, 2008 | Reply

    For those who are (for now) legally barred from entering into a binding, state-recognized marraige contract, the issue is one of equality. The economic advantages of being married do offer the security Craig speaks of, and even the invention of “civil unions” does not confer all the same legal rights and protections a fully recognized marriage does.

    For those who continue to foist religious objections as justification for ongoing discrimination and denial of equal status under the law, such arguments always ignore the facts that they are using a “pick and choose” religious interpretation to guide their lives in this matter. For to object to gay marriage while using (for example) the Bible as your source for your objection means you must also allow things like stoning adulterers to be consistent.

    I fully support equality in marriage. (And Daniel, I fully recognize individual resistance to getting married, regardless of orientation. IMO, both are valid choices.)

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