California can be a pretty wacky place sometimes. It’s a pretty heavily polarized state politically, garnering it a reputation (depending on who you ask) of extreme conservatism and of radical liberalism. It’s part of what makes it interesting to live here, and exciting to be a part of the voting constituency.
I received in the mail today my voter pamphlet. There’s a primary election coming up, and there are over a dozen propositions for us to vote on. Some of course are predictable: we get to choose between lower taxes and better libraries, and the perennial debates go on about law enforcement and civil liberties. A major retail tobacco store owner wants to reduce the taxes on cigarettes. Mostly the same old stuff. But just to keep us on our toes, sometimes they throw us a real curveball.
I’d heard about Proposition 22 before. There are ads on TV and flyers in the streets. Mostly the sentiment seems to be against, but I live in San Francisco, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the pro-Prop. 22 faction gave up on this area before they began. Referred to as the «Knight Initiative» (it was authored by State Senator Pete Knight), Prop. 22 would amend California family law to include, «Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.»
Of course this is controversial. Personally, I think same-sex marriage is fine and should be legal, but I know there are a lot of folks out there who disagree with me about that. I’m not here to argue that, though. Maybe it could be the topic for another piece of Opinionated Junk1, but right now it’s not the issue.
See, same-sex marriage is already banned in California. The Knight initiative has nothing to do with whether or not same-sex couples can be married. In California, they cannot.
But there’s this little loophole that has been used occasionally, and I understand how frustrating it can be for the opponents of same-sex marriage. It’s difficult sometimes when you want to stop something, and sneaky people just keep finding ways around the obstacles that you put up. I mean, that is the nature of sneaky people after all, right?
So what some dedicated same-sex couples have done is to leave California and go get married somewhere where there is no ban on same-sex marriage. I think Hawaii used to be one of those places, and didn’t I just read about the Vermont Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage? I don’t really know. I haven’t ever wanted to get married to another man, so the practical details haven’t really been relevant to me. Anyhow, those folks went and got married and came back to California, where they continued to live as happily married California residents of the same gender.
(OK, maybe they aren’t always happily married. It was a figure of speech. It does sort of raise the question: is it legal for same-sex couples to get divorced in California? I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that one. But I digress.)
The Knight Initiative would stop those sneaky people at the border and tear up their marriage license. Their marriage would not be legally valid nor recognized so long as that couple was in California.
So now you understand the claims that Prop. 22 «protects» the institution of marriage from «Judges in other states trying to … force us to recognize “same-sex marriage.”» The proponents of Prop. 22 claim that «legal loopholes» could force California to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Doggone those nasty legal loopholes! Always messing things up for you and me. Legal loopholes set killers out on the streets and put pedophiles in our schools. This one must be bad too! Right? What is this pesky obscure piece of legislation that removes our rights and destroys our sovereignty in our own state?
Well, I’ll tell you. Here it is:
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.
That’s from Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States of America. It means that your driver’s license, issued by one state, is valid on the other side of the state line. Legal documents issued in Kansas are valid in Montana. And a couple married in Hawaii is still married when they set foot on California soil.
How do you go about «closing» that sort of «loophole»? Not with a bill. Even enacted into law in the state of California, it would be invalidated by the U.S. Constitution. The only way to get rid of it would be to amend the U.S. Constitution to revoke Article IV Section 1.
Is this what «family values» means? Undermining the protections granted by the Constitution doesn’t sound like «family values» to me. This is the sort of crap that keeps me from voting Republican. It makes me angry. It really does, because Senator Knight and his supporters are the ones talking about the erosion of our treasured American values. They imply and even state outright that if you don’t agree with them that you are somehow un-American, that you don’t have values.
Countless brave men and women have died so that we might live under the protection of the Constitution. No political system could possibly be perfect, and I’d be the last one to suggest that the U.S.‘s is, but the purpose of the Constitution is to protect us from the traitors in our midst who would use political office to further their own agendas. It’s Senator Knight and his ilk that are un-American.
If you live in California or in another state where similar legislation is proposed, please don’t allow this abomination to pass.
- An earlier title for Monochromatic Outlook ↩