(by Lynn Vincent, WorldMag.com) – … While
Prop 8 supporters succeeded in banning same-sex marriage in California,
their opponents aren’t ready to give up yet. The day after the
election, gay marriage backers filed three lawsuits challenging the
The Lambda Legal Defense, the National Center for Lesbian Rights,
and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a single suit. The
counties of San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles joined to file
another. Attorney Gloria Allred filed a third suit on behalf of married
“The initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo
the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by
eliminating a fundamental right from just one group-lesbian and gay
Californians,” Lambda said in a statement.
At their core, the suits argue that the Prop 8 amendment so
fundamentally changes the basic structure of California law that it is
a revision of the constitution rather than an amendment. Alliance
Defense Fund senior counsel Glenn Lavy called the argument “farfetched.
It takes some real legal gymnastics to make that argument with a
A similar argument crashed and burned in Oregon this summer when a
state appeals court rejected a challenge to Oregon’s 2004 marriage
amendment. The court used previous California case law as the basis of
California conservatives weren’t the only winners on traditional
marriage. …Voters in three states issued strong statements on
tradition. Florida’s marriage amendment was arguably the toughest-and
the toughest to pass. The measure defined marriage as between one man
and one woman, but also banned same-sex equivalents, such as civil
unions. Further, the measure had to pull a 60 percent voter share to
win. It did, passing by 62 percent in a state that went Democratic in
the presidential race.
Arizona also passed a marriage amendment-just two years after
becoming the first state to defeat one. In 2006, voters there rejected
as too broad a constitutional amendment that defined marriage along
traditional lines, and also banned civil unions and domestic
partnerships. This year, though, Arizonans voted in favor of
Proposition 102, a streamlined amendment that stopped at defining
Still, it was bellwether California that generated national
attention, with Prop 8 inspiring election night watch parties as far
away as Virginia. The measure passed narrowly, by 52.2 percent with
nearly 97 percent of precincts reporting. The victory brings to 30 the
total number of states with similar constitutional amendments, and
marks the first time voters have banned same-sex marriage in a state
where it was already legal.
The California Supreme Court in May overturned California’s Prop
22, a statutory initiative dating from 2000 that defined marriage as
between one man and one woman. Subsequently, the court refused to stay
its own ruling pending the outcome of Prop 8 in the November elections.
That opened the way for homosexual marriage in the state, and an
estimated 18,000 same-sex couples rushed to make wedding vows,
including couples from out of state.
Prop 8’s passage will likely hamper those who had hoped to take gay
marriage from California and go national, Lavy said. The pre-Prop 8
legal strategy for advancing gay marriage nationally would have been to
sue on behalf of out-of-state couples for recognition of their
marriages in their home states. “It will be harder now for them to
succeed in lawsuits in other states when the marriage licenses in
question are no longer valid or recognized in California,” Lavy said.
The Prop 8 campaign was the most expensive in the history of the
issue, with the sides spending more than $70 million combined. An
examination of fundraising stats revealed Prop 8 as a battle between
the grassroots and the elite, said Focus on the Family policy analyst
Carrie Gordon Earll. While Hollywood stars and corporate giants wrote
five- and six-figure checks, the sheer number of $25 and $50 donations
streaming in from Main Street actually crashed the secretary of state’s
“It was Brad Pitt versus Joe the Plumber,” Earll said.
Going forward, she added, conservatives in the 20 states that have
not passed marriage-protection amendments need to wake up to the
stakes. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen this issue progress,
examples have begun piling up of infringement on parental rights and
the ridiculing and harassing of people of faith” who hold to a
traditional view of marriage, Earll said. The Massachusetts Supreme
Court ruled that parents do not have a right to opt out, or even to be
notified, when their children will be taught that gay marriage is
normal. In Ohio and Georgia over the last year, state and federal
authorities have fired workers over their religious views of
homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
“People may not be catching the bigger picture that gay marriage is
not just about ‘rights’ for homosexuals, but about parental rights and
religious liberties,” Earll said. “It’s about coming up against a
homosexual agenda that insists on marginalizing and silencing those who
The hallmark feature of the Prop 8 battle was the coalition of
religious groups working together, first to get the measure on the
ballot, then to pass it. (See “The power of three,” WORLD, July 26, 2008.)
Ron Prentice, CEO of the California Family Council, called the
effort perhaps the first modern attempt by a coalition of very
theologically diverse religious organizations to impact the culture via
the vote. That coalition included evangelicals, Greek Orthodox, Roman
Catholics, Mormons, and many Christian denominations. The resulting
Prop 8 victory “was a very significant and encouraging win,” Prentice
said. “Our hope is not only to maintain the momentum, but to grow these
networks so that we can continue to impact the culture with
Proposition 102: Amend state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Approved
Marriage Protection Amendment: Amend state
constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, and
ban same-sex equivalents such as civil unions. Approved
Prop 8: Amend state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Approved
Proposition 4: Require abortionists to notify parents when a minor girl seeks an abortion. Defeated
Question 48: Define “person” as any human being from the moment of fertilization. Defeated
Proposal 2: Allow researchers to use donated fertility clinic embryos to obtain stem cells. Approved
Abortion Ban: Prohibit abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the mother’s health. Defeated
I-1000: Legalize assisted suicides for mentally competent, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live. Approved
Issue 6: Allow construction of Ohio’s first casino, to be located near Wilmington. Defeated
Casino Measure: Make Maryland the 38th state to allow slots or casino-style gambling. Approved
Unmarried Couples: Prevent all unmarried couples from adopting or providing foster care to minors. Approved
Initiative 424: Amend the state constitution to ban affirmative action. Approved
Civil Rights Initiative: Ban affirmative action programs. Defeated
Amendment 1: Make English the official language at all government meetings. Approved
Measure 58: Prohibit public schools from
teaching non-English-speaking students in their native language after
one year in elementary school, or two years in high school. Defeated
Question 1: Restrict government use of eminent domain to acquire private property for public use. Approved –
Copyright ©2008 WORLD Magazine, November 15, 2008.
Reprinted here November 11th with permission from World Magazine. Visit
the website at www.WorldMag.com.
NOTE: Anything that appears on a ballot other than a candidate running for office is called a ballot measure. Ballot measures are broken down into two distinct categories – initiatives (or propositions) and referendums.
Initiative – Citizens, collecting signatures on a
petition, place advisory questions, memorials, statutes (laws) or
constitutional amendments on the ballot for the citizens to adopt or
reject. “Initiative” refers to newly drafted legislation submitted
directly to a popular vote as an alternative to adoption by a state
legislature. Twenty-four states have the initiative process.
1. What did ballot measure Proposition 8 in California do?
2. Which groups have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Prop 8 amendment?
3. On what grounds are the groups arguing against Prop 8?
4. What were Florida and Arizona’s ballot measures on marriage and what was the outcome of each?
5. a) Define bellwether as used in para. 8.
b) The passage of Prop 8 marks the first time voters have banned same-sex marriage in a state where it was already legal.
What is the history of same-sex marriage in California?
(NOTE: The election on Nov. 4 brings the number of states with similar constitutional amendments to 30. Massachusetts is the only state where same-sex marriage is legal.)
6. a) Stay as used in para. 10 is defined as “A suspension or postponement of a legal action.” What problems has the California Supreme Court caused by refusing to stay its own ruling for six months?
b) Do you think the court should have agreed to stay its own ruling pending the outcome of Prop 8 in the November elections? Explain your answer.
7. a) Define hallmark as used in paragraph 16.
b) What was the hallmark feature of Prop 8?
8. Would you have voted for or against Prop 8? Explain your answer.
Read about ballot measures (initiatives and referendums) at the Initiative and Referendum website iandrinstitute.org.