by Risa Green
This has been a tough week for me, legally speaking. Not that I have legal problems. I’m not being sued or suing anyone else at the moment. I’m talking more about what happened in the legal world this week. On the one hand, we had Sonia Sotomayor nominated as a Supreme Court Justice. Whether you like her or not, if you weren’t moved by her story, or by her weeping mother in the audience when Obama introduced her, then you can’t possibly be human. Personally, I’m on the fence about her right now. I don’t know enough about her, and the swirling rumors about her being pro-life have planted seeds of doubt in my mind. I’m looking forward to the confirmation hearings so that I can make up my mind. That said, you can’t argue with the fact that the nomination of a Hispanic woman to the Supreme Court does represent progress for our country. Another ceiling broken. It’s about time.
And yet, in the same week, the Supreme Court of California – arguably the most liberal state in the Union – upheld the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8. For the second time since Prop 8 originally passed, I am embarrassed to call myself a Californian.
I am a lawyer. I don’t practice anymore, but I went to law school, and I spent a few years at a big firm. I have always prided myself on not being a knee-jerk ideologist; I’ve always felt that I am able to see both sides of a legal argument, and that I could argue the merits of a case either way, regardless of my personal feelings. I am staunchly pro-choice, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have sympathy for the pro-life position. I think there should be more restrictions on who should be allowed to own a gun, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t see the point of those who think that gun ownership should be absolute. But when it comes to gay marriage, I can honestly say that I just don’t get the argument of those who are against it.
To me, Prop 8 is so obviously discriminatory. It’s so obviously a violation of equal protection under the law. It’s so obviously wrong. I have tried to understand the position of the other side from an intellectual standpoint, but I’m sorry to say that I just don’t. Marriage is a legal status. It’s not a natural part of the universe. It’s something that we invented and that we bestow upon couples. For someone to say that such a status can only be given to a man and a woman is discrimination, plain and simple. And for the proponents of Prop 8 to make the argument that gay people can still have civil unions, which confer similar rights as married people, misses the point. That’s like saying that it doesn’t matter if you have to ride in the back of the bus, because you still get to where you’re going.
Whenever I talk about Prop 8, I always find myself shaking my head in wonderment. How is it that in this day and age, when we have an African American president, a Puerto Rican Supreme Court nominee, and a two women in the latest Presidential race, how is it that we can still have something as backwards as Prop 8? The right to marry who you love is a right that should belong to everyone, without qualifiers. And while it may not be a glass ceiling, per se, it sure feels like a glass window, where those on the other side have to peer in at what they aren’t allowed to have. I know the day will come when California comes to its senses, and I look forward to walking on the broken glass when it does.