A sharply divided California Supreme Court today legalized same-sex marriage, an historic ruling that will allow gay and lesbian couples across the state to wed as soon as next month and inflame the social, political and moral debate over gay unions.Even if a measure were to go on the ballot this fall and outlaw this sham, the governor wouldn't pay any attention to it.
In a 4-3 ruling written by Chief Justice Ronald George, the Supreme Court struck down California laws that restrict marriage to heterosexual couples, finding that it is unconstitutional to deprive gays and lesbians of the equal right to walk down the aisle with a marriage license in hand.
The California and Massachussetts Supreme Courts are now the only top courts in the country to uphold the right of gay couples to marry.
"The California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples," the court observed in a 121-page decision.
The reaction was immediate.
A spokesman for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom sent a simple e-mail to his press staff: "We won."
Wonderful way to run a state.
The decision is sure to spark a furor that could spill into the ballot box in November, when there is a strong chance voters will be weighing a ballot initiative to change the state Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger previously announced his opposition to the ballot initiative, and reiterated his opposition today.No kidding.
"I respect the court's decision and as governor, I will uphold its ruling," Schwarzenegger said within minutes of the ruling. "Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling."
The three dissenters in today's ruling argued that it should be up to the voters or Legislature to sanction gay marriage, not the courts.