Get Married, Save the Economy

October 2010

On August 4, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rendered his decision repealing Proposition 8, a California ballot measure voted into law in 2008 that restricted marriage to the union of one man and one woman. By now you've read the ruminations of the various pundits, pinheads, prophets, and prelates who've picked apart Walker's justifications for overturning the will of the voting public, whom he derided as being motivated by a "fear or unarticulated dislike of same-sex couples." So we won't bore you by tossing our two cents onto the pile.

But there is one aspect of the gay-marriage brouhaha that has largely gone unnoticed and merits consideration. (An aside: Judge Walker was a George H.W. Bush appointee; his initial nomination by Ronald Reagan was foiled by congressional Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, over fears that he was "insensitive" to homosexuals!)

Some background: In February 2004 San Francisco Mayor Gavin New­som, a Catholic Democrat in the JFK mold, unilaterally legalized same-sex marriage in the City and County of San Francisco. It remained legal for twenty-nine days, during which an estimated 4,000 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples, until a court injunction put an end to it. The case eventually went before the California Supreme Court, which, in a surprise decision — six of its seven judges were Republican appointees — legalized same-sex marriage statewide in May 2008. It was during the resultant euphoria that, in a fit of pomp and bravado, Newsom declared before a throng of supporters and reporters: "As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation. It's inevitable. The door's wide open now. It's gonna happen — whether you like it or not!" It was intended to be a triumphant moment.

But five-and-a-half months later, Prop 8 slammed the door shut again, and a good many of his fellow liberals blamed Newsom for aiding its passage with his outburst, which received massive airplay in news reports and political ads during the campaign. Perhaps he was inadvertently instrumental in the electoral defeat of same-sex marriage. Who knows? But Newsom is right: Same-sex marriage is coming, whether we like it or not. It may have begun with fits and starts — it's in legal limbo for the time being; the case is headed for appeal and likely to the U.S. Supreme Court — but it's coming because California needs same-sex marriage, and needs it now. Anyone who's heard anything about the budget woes at the state and local levels knows why.


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New Oxford Notes: October 2010

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