Wednesday, November 12, 2008

California's historic legal battles regarding same-sex marriage

Billy Gray sent me this excellent article by writer Caitlin Macrae. I knew very little about California's historic legal battles regarding same-sex marriage. Fascinating stuff. Thanks, Billy! Here's an excerpt. Enjoy!

Caitlin Macrae writes:
On November 5th, the heady buzz of election night had faded to a throbbing headache. My beloved home state, California, had at once voted to demand more legroom for chickens and pigs on factory farms (Prop 2) and to deny the state's many gays the right to marry (Prop 8).
Until 1977 the California Civil Code didn't have a specific gender requirement for marriage. The clause about marriage was actually gender-neutral from its ratification in 1850, defining marriage only as "a personal relation arising out of a civil context, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary." 
Of course, the switch from gender-neutral to gender-specific didn't happen because Californians suddenly and randomly got their panties in a damp tangle. In 1977 the nation had just disengaged from the deeply unpopular war in Vietnam. Stagflation and the oil crisis were taking turns punching the American economy in the kidneys. Just four years earlier, Roe v. Wade had overturned all state and federal laws restricting abortion. And eight years earlier, the Stonewall Riots in New York City sparked a three-day uprising, arguably turning gay rights into a full-on movement. 
In this upheaval America's pre-war gender expectations needed a manly, normative pat on the back. Enter the first repeals of gay-rights ordinances (in Dade County, FL; thanks Anita Bryant!) and the spankin' new nouns in the California Civil Code. READ MORE