Due to my lack of time during school to make blog posts, I’ve decided to start posting some of my writing for class assignments. Below is an article written for COM201 about same-sex marriage and Prop. 8.
Over the past couple of weeks, steps have been taken in multiple states in the process of legalizing same-sex marriage that have been met with mixed reactions, following on the heels of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban in California, to be unconstitutional. As these debates for and against same-sex marriage continue to unfold, activists on both sides face the challenge of gaining more support, and are met with the obstacle of appealing to specific demographics.
The ruling on Proposition 8, which was decided on February 7th, follows the case of Perry v. Brown, which started back in 2010. After Judge Vaughn Walker declared Prop. 8 to be unconstitutional in August of 2010, proponents of the law filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which issued an immediate stay on the law, keeping Prop. 8 in place until the appeal could be decided on. Now that the Ninth Circuit has ruled the law unconstitutional, the stay will continue to be in place in order to give same-sex marriage opponents time to file another appeal to either the Ninth Circuit or the Supreme Court.
Some opponents of same-sex marriage question the morality of Judge Walker’s decision because, in 2008, the measure was approved by a state vote with about 52% of California voters supporting the measure. Potential Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election Rick Santorum feels this way, calling the ruling “judicial tyranny,” adding, “we need judges who respect the people’s voice.”
The Ninth Circuit judges who made the decision, however, find Prop. 8 to serve “no purpose,” according to Judge Stephen Reinhardt, “other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians.”
College of Communications senior Chelsea Merget, a resident of a small conservative town in California, believes in her experience that the state’s various demographics, most notably age, contribute to disagreements. “Most of my town is against same-sex marriage because of their religious beliefs,” she says, “but it’s more of an issue among the parents than people my age.”
Exit polls by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force following the Prop. 8 vote in 2008 analyzing the demographics of voters show some groups offering more support than others. In terms of age, younger demographics showed more support for same-sex marriage; 67% of voters 65+ voted for Prop. 8 while only 45% between 18 and 29 voted for it.
After further analysis of polls, Nate Silver of political poll site fivethirtyeight.com stated that he believes the age gap is so large, Prop. 8 might have had a chance of passing by a small margin if no one over the age of 65 had voted.
Soon after the Prop. 8 ruling in California, the state of Washington soon came into the spotlight of the same-sex marriage issue as governor Christine Gregoire signed a bill legalizing marriage for gay couples. The law will take effect on June 7th unless opponents of the bill collect the necessary 120,577 voter signatures to put the measure to a state vote this November.
If same-sex marriage in the state of Washington does go to a vote, polls show voters are likely in favor of it. An October 2011 poll by the University of Washington shows support for same-sex marriage proponents, claiming that 55% of Washington voters would vote to uphold legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. 38% reported opposing the measure, while 7% remained undecided.
In New Jersey, however, approval of same-sex marriage in the state House and Senate led to different circumstances. Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill when it reached his desk, saying “let’s put it on the ballot, and let’s let people decide.” He acknowledged that his belief should not take priority, and said, “if the people of New Jersey…are in favor of it, then my position would not be the winning position.”
Governor Christie also added that he’s “willing to take that risk” because he trusts the people of the state. He is still behind his position on the issue, however, reiterating that he believes “marriage should be between one man and one woman.”