Whether you live in California or just keep up on current events, you’ve likely heard something about Proposition 8, a prop voted on by Californians last November banning same-sex marriage in the Golden State. Like many others, I was surprised that one of the most progressive states in the union, and one with a significantly sized homosexual community, voted “Yes” on this bill. While those who supported the prop reveled in their victory, all those who stood against it knew it had a pretty good chance of being declared unconstitutional in the courts. Indeed it has been. United States District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, an openly homosexual man himself, struck down the prop as unconstitutional because it was
a violation of federal rights because it stripped gay individuals of their right to equal protection and due process against any government action that deprives them of liberty and rights.
This ruling brings about all sorts of different issues, some not even related to sexual rights or human rights in general. In a recent discussion about the overturning of the proposition, a family member of mine commented on how she felt her vote in favor of the bill was futile if it’s able to be overruled in the courts anyways. This is an interesting point. While I personally may not agree with this bill, it seems right that the state should enact the laws voted on by the majority of its citizens. It brings up the question of what is more important: the constitution itself, or the amendments being made to the constitution. What good is a constitution that doesn’t bend to the will to the majority in a democratic system? Constitutional amendment has historically been the method with which social injustice is rectified. It seems that now that method is being used as a means for the opposite end.
I really don’t have a decent answer for which is more important in this particular case. I’m torn between my beliefs in equal civil and social rights for all and my hope in the power of the majority. It truly does make for an interesting discussion. What do you think?