Same Sex Marriage
Ballotpedia has a staff writer, Bailey Ludlam, in Maine who is filing a very informative travel journal on her interviews with people on both sides of some of the major initiatives and referenda on the November ballot there--including Question 1 (same-sex marriage), Question 2 (auto excise tax) and Question 4 (a cap on state spending--a former of the so-called TABOR, or Taxpayers Bill of Rights limits that have been a hot issue in other states, most notably Colorado, which adopted TABOR and then repealed most of it).
In announcing its decision to wait until 2012 to qualify an initiative legalizing same-sex marriage, Equality California released this extensive plan for victory.
It's worth a read, even if you don't care about marriage equality. Why? Because the document is blunt -- and detailed -- in explaining the difficulties of drawing young voters to the polls.
The same-sex marriage issue is largely about age. If the electorate is young enough, same-sex marriage advocates will win. The main reason why they want to wait until 2012 is because the electorate is likely to be younger in 2012, a presidential election year. Why's that? Because young voters don't show up for state elections--and no one has figured out a way to do much of anything about that.
From the Equality California plan:
Supporters of same-sex marriage seem to be moving to delay a ballot initiative campaign to overturn Prop 8 and legalize such marriages from 2010 until 2012. Their thinking is that they need more time to convert voters, and that the 2012 electorate will be larger -- and younger, and thus more inclined to back same-sex marriage.
But I wonder if they're right about that. The 2010 ballot in California could draw a number of young and new voters sympathetic to same sex marriage for one reason: an initiative legalizing marijuana. I have not seen polling on this (does anyone out there have surveys to share), but one would suspect that there's more than a little overlap between supporters of legalizing pot possession and legalizing same-sex marriage. (Your blogger, for the record, thinks the case for legalizing same-sex marriage is strong and the case for legalizing marijuana is weak). The marijuana initiative is likely to dominate the news and public discussion. That could help the cause of same-sex marriage.
The California Supreme Court's decision today to uphold Prop 8 is more about the California constitution and the initiative process (the true winner in the case) than it is about same-sex marriage. In effect, by a 6-1 vote, the court makes plain that it would have loved to overturn Prop 8--but couldn't because of the constitution.
And in the following passage from today's decision, the court seems to offer a suggestion to advocates of a constitutional convention: that the state needs provisions limiting the ability of the people to change certain parts of the constitution by initiative. The political problem with this is, of course, that advocates of such a convention desperately want to avoid having issues like same-sex marriage brought into the debate over a convention.
Anyway, here's the relevant passage:
I've just completed a very fast reading of the California Supreme Court decision this morning that upholds the Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage -- and also upholds the legality of the approximately 18,000 gay couples who got married in the state last year.
As readers of this blog know, I'm a strong supporter of same-sex marriage -- but I think the court did the right thing. The California constitution is different than the U.S. constitution. The people have strong powers to change the constitution through the ballot initiative. To overturn Prop 8 would have forced the justices to rewrite the state constitution and strip the people of those powers. I believe that California's initiative process should be less powerful and more flexible, but this wasn't the case to do something about it.
The decision makes plain that Prop 8's effect is confined to one word; marriage. The court writes that gay couples must continue to have all the rights and responsibilities of married couples. But their unions can't be called marriages, because of Prop 8.
Yes, according to Travis Ballie, writing at Daily Kos. He thinks it would be a stronger statement to have voters -- rather than judges -- overturn the Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage. I tend to agree, since the goal is not simply legal same-sex marriage in California but marriage equality nationwide.
The California Supreme Court just announced it will rule on legal challenges to Prop 8, the California initiative ban on same-sex marriage, on Tuesday.
Two new studies from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law look at the economic impacts on Massachusetts five years after that state legalized same-sex marriage.
One study, which looked at data from the American Community Survey, found that same-sex marriages had a small but positive impact on the caliber of the workforce. "This study shows that in Massachusetts marriage equality resulted in an increase of younger, female, and more highly educated and skilled individuals in same-sex couples moving to the state."
The other study, based on a survey and the crunch of state-collected tax revenue data, estimates that same-sex marriages produced a net economic benefit to the state of $100 million.
You may have noticed that your blogger has been ignoring the hottest direct democracy story in the country: the controversy over Miss California's remarks in opposition to same-sex marriage (and thus in favor of the Prop 8 ban) in her home state.
Your blogger thought of posting on this subject, but worried it might seem like a cheap stunt to drive traffic (like the bloggers who add "Britney Spears" to the topics lists on their posts). Or a desperate bid for attention. Or that some might think that the picture of a beauty pageant queen had no place on the web site of a serious think tank.
But sometimes, the direct democracy news demands what the direct democracy news demands. And so I've waded into the tabloid swamp, via this item at Fox & Hounds Daily.
Also, I feel I must offer one unrelated bit of political analysis to deepen public understanding of Miss Prejean's ballot initiative stance. While your blogger strongly disagrees with her on Prop 8, her position is quite understandable, geographically speaking. The media organizations covering this public controversy have overlooked the important fact that she is from the San Diego area, which has been the unofficial headquarters of the same-sex marriage opposition in the state. Churches there provided much of the institutional support for the Prop 8 campaign.
I just returned from a lunchtime press conference held by Cleve Jones, Rick Jacobs, union officials, and other leading supporters of overturning Prop 8 and legalizing same-sex marriage. The location of the press conference, however, seemed to puzzle some of the reporters in attendance: the sidewalk in front of a gay-friendly, union-friendly, new, Hyatt-affiliated hotel on the Sunset Strip.
But after listening to Jones and Jacobs, I think their strategy makes sense. Same-sex marriage advocates have gone after same-sex marriage opponents; the effect of those protests is in dispute, but some of those protests, as Jones acknowledged, have backfired. A more productive strategy -- one represented by this press conference -- is for same-sex marriage supporters to put pressure on their friends. The message: prominent people and businesses must speak out in support of marriage equality. One can't simply be gay friendly and remain silent in these times.
Thus, the press conference in front of the Andaz Hotel. The same-sex marriage supporters, who have been urging the Hyatt chain to sever ties with Doug Manchester, a major Prop 8 donor who operates the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, called on the Andaz to join them and speak out against the San Diego franchisee. Jacobs also made an appeal to Penny Pritzker, the top Obama fundraiser whose family owns the Hyatt chain, to speak out on the subject and isolate Manchester.