Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

During the San Francisco Gay, Etc. Pride Weekend at the end of June, somebody spray painted the above slogan onto a few sections of sidewalk on McAllister Street near City Hall and the California Supreme Court (below). Since then, the stencils have been fading slowly while attracting the occasional "---- IS GAY" graffiti.

The last time there was a major ruling on the California Proposition 8 gay marriage issue in May of 2009, there were thousands of demonstrators in front of the California Supreme Court building above, and across the street in Civic Center Plaza. Today there was nobody outside, and after dispensing with belt, coins, and camera for the metal detector, it turned out nobody was inside the building either.

Of course, I had forgotten that this was now a federal case, so that any demonstrators would be a block away in front of the old federal building on Golden Gate Avenue.

There were a handful of religious bigots with large signage and a young man named Luke Otterstad (below) who was being interviewed for the television with his new fiance Nadia Chayka.

He was probably from a network of Ukrainian Baptist Churches in the Sacramento area, who for reasons unknown are the most insistently public Proposition 8 defenders in San Francisco.

The federal judge, Vaughn Walker, has recently been outed as a gay man himself, which is probably confirming all their worst suspicions about conspiracies most foul.

The crowd in front of the federal building was mostly media...

...along with a few people who were ready to pose for them.

At about 1:45 PM, with the foggy wind howling through the plaza, the news spread through everybody's mobile devices that Proposition 8 had been declared unconstitutional and there was general rejoicing.

Some people wondered whether or not they could walk over to the Clerk's Office at San Francisco City Hall and get a marriage license.

The best instant legal analysis of the ruling I have found is by Brian Devine (not pictured) at the Calitics website (click here), where he explains:

"Most of the decision (the first 109 pages) is the "factual findings." This is crucial, and here's why. On appeal, Judge Walker's conclusions of law are basically irrelevant. Questions of law are decided fresh on appeal, and the trial court's thoughts on the law are entitled to no deference. On the other hand, only a trial court can make factual findings. A Court of Appeal must give great deference to the factual findings of the trial court, especially when those findings are based on the credibility of witness testimony. Judge Walker knows this. He knows that his primary role in this case is to weigh the credibility of the evidence that was presented at trial, and apply the facts that were proven to the law. But the law--unlike the facts--ultimately will be decided by nine Justices at a higher pay grade. Consequently, we should be grateful to Judge Walker for carefully and diligently going through the facts of the case, creating a detailed and compelling record for the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court."

At 4:00 PM, I went to the San Francisco Clerk's office with my "domestic partner" to see about getting married, but in the interim a "Stay" had been put on the decision by Judge Walker until both parties make their case for staying the decision until it is heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals a half dozen city blocks away.

A sweet, regretful clerk told us we couldn't fill out paperwork if requesting a "same-sex" marriage, and so the civil rights saga continues.


momo said...

Soon! soon! not soon enough, but soon.
my daughter's two dads are married in Spain, but that means nothing to immigration or the state of Minnesota. Yesterday, one of them wondered if they would ever be able to have their marriage recognized in his home state in his lifetime. I have to hope that this decision will lead to a Supreme Court finding that will have a nation-wide impact.
Thanks, as always, for your "ground zero" stories!

Civic Center said...

Dear momo: You are so welcome, and I hope your daughter's "two dads" can finally be legal soon in their home state. I don't really care about being "married," but there are just too many ridiculous obstacles for same-sex couples. For instance, I had a Canadian partner for five years in the 1980s and the situation, not to mention the homophobic American immigration jerks at airports, was hell. Now it's about inheritance, shared property and Social Security with my current partner of 13 years. It's time for this idiocy to be over.

janinsanfran said...

Gosh -- you even tried to get married! Much as we loath the idea for good cultural reasons, we figure we'll do it if it ever gets legalized, because the legal alternatives are so very complicated and expensive despite 31 years of sharing and cohabitation.

Civic Center said...

Dear Jan: Exactly.