May 15 2008
Today the California Supreme Court’s decision dropped on the constitutionality of a same sex marriage ban. Specifically, the court addressed this question:
The question we must address is whether, under these circumstances, the failure to designate the official relationship of same-sex couples as marriage violates the California Constitution.
The Court found that the “right to marry is a basic, constitutionally protected civil right -’ "a
fundamental right of free men [and women]” without regard to sexual orientation and that the Legislature cannot limit it.
In light of the fundamental nature of the substantive rights embodied in the right to marry -’ and their central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society -’ the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all individuals and couples, without regard to their sexual orientation.
The majority goes on to state (in this 121 page majority opinion):
In light of this recognition, sections 1 and 7 of article I of the California Constitution cannot properly be interpreted to withhold from gay individuals the same basic civil right of personal autonomy and liberty (including the right to establish, with the person of one’s choice, an officially recognized and sanctioned family) that the California Constitution affords to heterosexual individuals. The privacy and due process provisions of our state Constitution -’ in declaring that "[a]ll people . . . have [the] inalienable right [of] privacy" (art. I, § 1) and that no person may be deprived of "liberty" without due process of law (art. I, § 7) -’ do not purport to reserve to persons of a particular sexual orientation the substantive protection afforded by those provisions. In light of the evolution of our state’s understanding concerning the equal dignity and respect to which all persons are entitled without regard to their sexual orientation, it is not appropriate to interpret these provisions in a way that, as a practical matter, excludes gay individuals from the protective reach of such basic civil rights.
Let the gay and lesbian marriage of convenience/marriage in trouble stories begin!