Same-sex marriage issues hit home in California

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By Staff Editorial

By Staff Editorial

For some people, the pursuit of happiness may be a bit harder, thanks to the California Supreme Court.

During the next few months, the court will decide whether a voter-approved law banning same-sex marriage is constitutional, and whether or not the state can legally prohibit same-sex marriage.

In 2000, California voters approved the definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

In 2005, domestic partnership legislation gave same-sex couples some of the same rights as legally married couples.

And right now 23 same-sex couples are suing the state of California to make their marriages legal, and they are being represented by Jennifer Pizer.

According to the Lambda Legal Web site, Jennifer C. Pizer is the Senior Counsel for Lambda Legal, the nation’s premiere legal advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights movement.

Based in Lambda’s Western Regional Office in Los Angeles, Pizer has handled cases to advance domestic partner protections and the rights of lesbian and gay parents, and to end sexual orientation discrimination in employment, education, health care and housing.

Pizer also is a leading voice for ending marriage discrimination against lesbian and gay couples and currently serves as co-counsel for the 23 same-sex couples.

On March 4, the California supreme Court heard three hours of oral argument from parties in four lawsuits, all of which challenge the constitutionality of California’s marriage statutes and their definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The ruling is expected 90 days from March 4.

Public affair cable network California Channel will carry a live broadcast of oral arguments, and the official California Courts Web site is currently showing an archived broadcast of the hearing.

This case is definitely a civil rights issue. As is common with American history, we are discriminating against a group of people based on what the majority of Americans feel is traditional.

Our Constitution didn’t justify denying women the right to vote or the “separate but equal” facilities for African-Americans, the Constitution leaves no room for denying gays and lesbians the right to wed.

Same-sex couples are granted “civil unions,” which is similar to marriage in that most of the rights and obligations created by a civil union are about the same as those created by marriage.

Same-sex couples are granted some or all of the approximately 400 state benefits that have been previously granted only to married couples.

But over 1,000 federal rights and privileges that married couples receive automatically are withheld from “civil unionized” couples because of the federal Defense Of Marriage Act. It prohibits the federal government from recognizing civil unions.

But if “civil unions” and marriage and the aren’t equal, then one has to be inferior.

Civil unions are inferior to marriage.As we learned in the famous Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court, which overturned earlier rulings going back to Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, by declaring that state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students denied black children equal educational opportunities.

On May 17, 1954, the Warren Court’s unanimous (9-0) decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

As a result, racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Just like this victory paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement, I believe that if the judges rule for that its unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage, then the decision will also pave the way for equal rights for same-sex couples.

There is no constitutional reason that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to legally marry. Those opposed to same-sex marriage argue that we must uphold the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman.

But just because something is traditional doesn’t mean that it’s right or constitutional.

Not too long ago, it was a traditional belief that blacks were inferior to whites, and it was even supported by the Jim Crow laws.

Slavery was also an American tradition, but traditions must change so we can honor our Constitution

The majority of Americans have been wrong about many past issues involving the discrimination of a group of people.

When the majority is wrong, it’s up to the Supreme Court to step in to make sure that citizens respect and uphold the constitution by not inserting their own morals and beliefs into laws.

“Same-sex couples fall in love, make commitments and raise children together like straight couples,” said Tamara Lange, Senior Staff Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

“We’re hopeful that the Court of Appeal will recognize that it is unfair for the state to deny same-sex couples the ability to marry and the important family protections and dignity that comes with marriage,” Lange said. “No one will be harmed, and many families will be helped, by allowing same-sex couples to marry and thereby take full responsibility for each other and better protect their children.”

Excluding same-sex couples from marriage violates the constitutional promise of equality under the law.

Hopefully the Supreme Court will uphold the Constitution and strike down the discriminatory bans denying same-sex couples access to legalized marriage.

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