Excerpts from newspaper editorials:
THE NEW YORK TIMES: The California Supreme Court got it terribly wrong Tuesday. It upheld Proposition 8, a state constitutional change on last fall's ballot intended to prohibit marriage by couples of the same sex. In addition to denying basic fairness to gay people, the court's 6-1 ruling sets an unfortunate legal precedent that could allow the existing rights of any targeted minority to be diminished using the initiative process. The court, at least, declined to make Proposition 8 retroactive. But that bow to decency does not excuse the larger affront to gay men and lesbians and to fundamental values enshrined in the state constitution. To justify the ruling, the majority decision, written by Chief Justice Ronald George, sought to portray the abridgement of equal protection as "narrow and limited," noting that same-sex couples still have the right to domestic partnerships resembling marriage. That is disconcerting reasoning, especially coming from the same justice who wrote last year's momentous ruling acknowledging the profound "inequality problem" posed by denying the freedom to marry. Further, the ruling's distorted reading of earlier cases would confine application of the two-step process to sweeping alterations in the government's structure. It said Proposition 8 did not fit that category. Fortunately, the new ruling does not end the issue. We remain confident that it was a temporary setback.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: In the evolution of social change, the world isn't flat; it's upside down. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and Iowa — yes, Iowa — are in the vanguard deciding that gay and lesbian couples have the same right as heterosexual couples to marry. California was a leader in this movement a year ago, when its Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution guaranteed an equal right to marriage — a ruling that influenced courts in some other states. But on Tuesday, the same California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, which 52 percent of voters approved last November to repeal the right of gays and lesbians to marry. This was a setback for the movement. But its momentum is growing, and its success is inevitable because the cause is just. However, the ruling sets a dangerous precedent: It denies a minority a right that the constitution had provided. Think of the waves of anti-immigrant sentiment that sweep California from time to time. Could the next one bring a proposition that limits immigrants' rights? The complicating factor for gay marriage is the emotional and, for many, religious significance of the word "marriage." Unfortunately, "marriage" is also a legal term in this country. The separate-but-almost-equal domestic partnership can only be viewed as second class.
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