A handful of people gathered at the Church in Ocean Park on Sunday afternoon, November 9, to protest the passage of Proposition 8 on the November 4 ballot making same-sex marriages unconstitutional.
Rev. Janet McKeithen, minister at the church, had been officiating at same-sex marriages during the window between the California Supreme Court’s May 2008 ruling holding 4-3 that same-sex couples had the right to marry and last week’s 51.9 percent vote declaring such marriages unconstitutional under state law. She invited those present to “grieve with us” over the passage of Proposition 8.
Mitch Ward, a Manhattan Beach City Councilmember, spoke to the group, arguing that the ban on same-sex marriages was analogous to the long-discredited bans that once were imposed on interracial marriage. His sentiments echoed those of a majority of the state Supreme Court, which held in May that “[a]n individual’s sexual orientation – like a person’s race or gender – does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.”
Also speaking at the church was Lisa Anderson, who married her partner Susan Jones at the Church in Ocean Park on October 30, confirming a union to which they had committed outside the law in 2001. Anderson and Jones told the Mirror that the November 4 vote leaves the state of their marriage in “limbo” as legal scholars debate the retroactive effect of the November 4 vote. (State Attorney General Jerry Brown has said the marriages will remain valid, but others say that is uncertain.)
Lawsuits have already been filed with the California Supreme Court, challenging Proposition 8 on the technical grounds that it is a “revision” of the state constitution, which requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature before a popular vote, rather than an “amendment” to the constitution, which can be approved by popular vote only. Proposition 8 was not presented to the legislature.
By the time that dispute is resolved, the issue could be put before the voters again – in 2000, Proposition 22, which created a statute banning same-sex marriage, passed with 61 percent of the vote, as against Proposition 8’s 51.9 percent.