It was nearly ten years ago when Californians first voted on gay and lesbians’ rights to marriage. While gay marriage was already illegal in California, Proposition 22 asked voters whether same-sex marriages, performed legally in other states, would be recognized in California. If the proposition passed, these marriages would not be honored.
In 2000, 61% of voters voiced their support for Proposition 22, making the only legal marriages in California those that are between one man and one woman. For eight years, gay marriage was neither performed nor recognized in this state. However, California’s marriage laws were again redefined in 2008, this time by the California Supreme Court. In a 4-3 decision, the court ruled that California’s Proposition 22 violated California’s constitution, reversing all laws limiting gay and lesbians from marrying in California.
While the May 2008 ruling was a victory for the California gay and lesbian community, their celebration was cut short with the announcement of Proposition 8, another effort to ban homosexual marriage. After it’s passing, Proposition 8 added an amendment to the California constitution defining marriage in California as between one man and one women, successfully invalidating the California Supreme Court ruling calling Proposition 22 unconstitutional.
Like Proposition 22, Proposition 8 was funded primarily by the Church of Latter Day Saints – also known as the Mormons. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Church of Latter Day Saints of Utah alone raised $55,013.11 for the Yes on 8 campaign in this state.
Here in San Diego, a league of Christians made an even stronger impact on Proposition 8. TheCall, known for their organization of large Christian events, arranged for a group prayer to be held in San Diego. In Qualcomm Stadium, thousands of supporters of Proposition 8 from California as well as other states, joined together to pray for the passing of Proposition 8. While the actual number of people who attended is in question, it is estimated that over 33,000 people traveled to Qualcomm Stadium for TheCall.
Two days after the TheCall, Proposition 8 passed by 52% — a much smaller margin than Proposition 22, only 8 years early. Once again, gay marriage was put back in the California Supreme Court, with the question being whether the amendment added in Proposition 8 qualified as constitutional. While a lower California court found the Proposition constitutional, the case was appealed to the federal district court in San Francisco.
Closing arguments were held on Wednesday, June 16 – now both sides eagerly await the ruling from Judge Walker. Supporters of same-sex marriage in San Diego have already rallied together in anticipation. Groups such as Equality California, San Diego LGBT Community Center, along with many others have already made arrangements to either celebrate or mourn the court’s decision.
The day the decision is handed down, the San Diego-area LGBT community and friends will gather at 6 pm at 6th and University where they will march to The Center, a home for the local LGBT community. Undoubtedly, gay marriage opponents will hold similar gatherings. No matter which side prevails in the latest California court proceedings, few believe the battle will be over. The issue of gay marriage is almost certainly on its way to the Supreme Court.