Prop 8 is Settled, Likely For Decades

California’s Supreme Court today ruled on several lawsuits filed after Californians voted for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a man and a woman. Unsurprisingly, they ruled that the initiative constituted an addition rather than a change to the state constitution and did not require legislative approval in order to be valid. It was also equally unsurprising that they ruled that marriages conducted between the overturn of Prop 22 and the approval of Prop 8 are still valid, an appropriate application of the prohibition on ex post facto laws. Regardless of the outcomes, the courts decided properly and appropriately to follow the clear and plain language and intent of our laws rather than attempt to placate various factions on either side.

The opposition didn’t have any choice but to file suit in an Alamoesque  attempt to claim victory. Despite raising more money and riding a liberal-friendly electoral wave in a liberal state, the leadership in charge of the effort to defeat Prop 8 pretty much blew their perfect storm and had to rely on the weakest of possible legal arguments to try and make a last-ditch effort to stop it. (Note: this is what many voucher supporters felt like as PCE kept on doing stupid crap.) The case was political theater designed to spread false hope and spark outrage at the eventual (and largely pre-determined) outcome.

Opponents of Prop 8 are already organizing to reverse it. I see this as a very remote possibility at this point. Overturning the changes made by Prop 8 would now constitute a real and material change to the state constitution, a process that now requires that the amendment get approval from the legislature. In the past, though, attempts by the legislature to redefine marriage haven’t come close to the 2/3 majority required for amendments. This presents a big hurdle towards even getting on the ballot. Even if it makes it that far, Californians are notorious for not changing their minds and absent another election that fires up left-leaning voters, the religious voters who carried the day may make up a larger percentage of ballots cast.

This isn’t to say the debate over same-sex relationships is settled. Events in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other states continue to stoke the fires. But in California, the push for redefining marriage is as dead as the voucher issue in Utah.

You may also like...

6 Responses

  1. rmwarnick says:

    Maybe you haven’t noticed, but American history has always trended toward more freedom and less inequality. Same-sex marriage is the latest manifestation of this trend, as our country gets closer to the promise of equal justice under law.

    You can’t take away people’s constitutional rights without starting a fight in America.

  2. It’s interesting that a year ago, 4 of the justices let their personal biases enter into the decision. Now with the obvious constitutionality of Proposition 8, 3 of those 4 just couldn’t figure out how to vote the same way as before and not look stupid.

  3. Bill says:

    I would like to think it was over for a while but no such luck the losers have already hired the 2 lead lawyers of Bush v Gore fame and they are now working together to try to get the Feds to overturn the decision. these guys are some of the best in working the Supreme’s. I feel another major battle brewing

  4. Jesse says:

    Both the ACLU and LAMBDA seem to think a federal suit at this point is Quixotic folly. Given that the US Supreme Court would be highly unlikely to reverse itself for at least 30 years and has repeatedly refused to hear similar complaints against DOMA, those hot shot lawyers have a good chance of getting a Supreme Court ruling against them that lasts for decades. I don’t think they’re the brightest bulbs, you know?

  5. Tom Grover says:


    Interesting. I didn’t know there was a procedural difference between adding to and amending the California state Constitution.

  6. Jesse says:

    The procedural difference was at the core of the attempt to overturn Prop 8 after it passed. Opponents argued (after the vote, naturally) that it was a change and required legislative approval before being valid. The courts saw right through the specious reasoning and upheld it.

Leave a Reply