Last week's California Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage prompted an avalanche of mail, with roughly the same number of responses from each side. Given the intense reader interest in the topic, we are devoting today's page to it.
Re "Gay marriage ban overturned," May 16
As an attorney, I am surprised that it took so long for a court to reach the simple decision that if that state's constitution or the U.S. Constitution includes an equal-protection clause, then gay marriage must be legal. Although one can get married in a church, synagogue or mosque, one cannot get married without a license from the state. Marriage is a legal contract in all of the states in this country. If the law is that we are all equal, then the gender/sexual orientation of the two people seeking to exercise their rights cannot be the basis on which to deny that right.
No matter what others may say, this is not activist judging. It is applying a concept in the Constitution in a simple and direct manner.
So-called progressive lawyers can now turn around and argue that polygamists are being discriminated against because they cannot legally wed in California. They can further contend that more than two people should be allowed to marry because they are consenting adults who love each other.
With a few strokes of a pen, traditional marriage has been dealt a crippling blow by four activist judges. For those who think I am being alarmist, I never thought that in my lifetime I would live to see the day a man could legally marry another man.
On Thursday, four nonelected public servants betrayed 4,618, 673 Californians in legalizing same-sex marriage. These judges decided that their opinion was more important than a law that 61% of California voters passed in 2000. It's been awhile since I was in school, but since when did judges make law? I swore that was the job of the legislative branch.
I met my son when he was 4 1/2 . He called me Joel and his father Papa. When he was 7 years old, I married his father in a religious ceremony. About a week before, he started calling me "Dad." It was "Dad" this and "Dad" that, in every sentence and question.
A few days after the ceremony, as we sat around the dining room table, he said, "Dad, remember when I used to call you Joel?" as if it were years ago and not just two weeks. I said yes and asked what had brought about the change. He looked at me as if it were the most obvious thing in the world and said, "You got married to Papa."
He is right that we got married. But how could I explain that it was a religious ceremony and not a civil ceremony in the eyes of the state? That we could not partake in the rights that a civil contract gives, and that his life could be affected by that difference?
I wanted to be able to tell him that our family had all the protections and responsibilities given by those contracts. Now, almost three years to the day, I can! Marriage matters to kids and to families. Thank you, Supreme Court.
Joel L. Kushner
The writer is the director of the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College.
I know this is hard for evangelical primitivists to understand, but the California Supreme Court was not engaged in "judicial activism." Rather, the court did its job. It prevented a majority from legislating against a minority in an unconstitutional manner.
By the way, the greatest threat to the family is not gay marriage -- it is a nearly 50% divorce rate among straight couples.
Eric L. Nelson
By being shortsighted and selfish, I fear that my fellow gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have handed our community a pyrrhic victory. While the argument is sound (just what part of "equal protection under the law" is confusing?) the timing could not possibly be worse.
We already have domestic partnership rights, and polls show that college and high school students overwhelmingly support equal rights for our community. All we had to do was wait a few years and marriage would have come our way.
Instead, in the most crucial election year in my lifetime, we have now unleashed the sleeping tiger on the right, and not only will we likely lose the constitutional battle to ban gay marriage, we have likely just handed John McCain California and the White House along with it.
Good going guys; thanks for nothing!
A striking feature of the majority opinion is how often it uses the word "dignity" -- 22 times by my count. A computer search on the word "dignity" in all U.S. and California Supreme Court cases returned just one U.S. Supreme Court opinion that used the word as frequently in reference to human dignity (as opposed to state or sovereign dignity). The California Supreme Court has never before issued an opinion that used the term even half that often. It was refreshing to see a court acknowledge just how essential dignity is to our humanity. It's a shame that we now face an initiative struggle in which the people will once again be asked to deny the fundamental dignity of their gay and lesbian neighbors.
Michael G. Witmer
Special praise is due to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his gracious statesmanship in announcing swiftly that he will abide by the court's decision.
It isn't bad for California if stimulus package money pays for rings and Golden State weddings.
After reading about the California Supreme Court's decision to overturn the clear will of the people, I have two questions: Where is the judges' recall petition, and when can I sign it?
Damion F. Boyd
The old saying "Be careful what you wish for" can also apply here. Now gay people can be as miserable as the rest of us.
The real winners will be divorce attorneys.
Lake Forest, Calif.
Now I know on what the televangelists will blame the next California earthquake.
Here in Massachusetts, the gay marriage law acts as a corrosive. It encourages politicians to put forward ever-zanier ideas to buy special-interest votes.
Meanwhile, the fundamental strength and moral goodness of this once Puritan state has been weakened. Where is the granite in our bones now? Will California follow our lead into a "Twilight Zone" morality?
Simply mandating something legal does not make it right or good or healthy or not sinful. I urge Californians to carefully consider your response to this issue. Some things are just plain wrong.
Congratulations to all of the same-sex California couples who won the right to marry. My husband and I will celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary Tuesday. We received our license May 17, 2004, the first day licenses were issued in Massachusetts.
Embrace each other and resolve for the fight ahead. After you get legally married, remember to select single for marital status on your federal tax return (it's one of those acceptable and mandatory white lies). You may also have trouble getting a new passport if you want it in your married name. And even though California is much larger than Massachusetts, please don't forget that we were first!
I should note that I am not your former mayor, though my "maiden" name is James Hahn.
James P. Coady-Hahn
Re "Marriage for all," editorial, May 16
Ah, yes, "marriage for all" sounds so cutting-edge cute. But it raises the question, all what? All people already married? All children? All caregivers trying to rob their elderly patients of their life savings? All serial rapists and pedophiles? This philosophy acts as though meeting basic requirements doesn't matter. It's an election year -- let's just give away everything, including our honor and sense of right and wrong.
God's plan for marriage is simple and straightforward: Marriage is the voluntary union of one unmarried man and one unmarried woman, mature enough for the responsibilities of caring for a home and a new family.
Other kinds of working arrangements or living together may be loving and mutually supportive, but they are not marriage! Where's that initiative for November? I'm ready to sign right now. And I'm a Democrat!
Re "Couple believe decree is at odds with God's plan," May 16
While I respect and appreciate the Unruhs' views regarding gay marriage, I find it frustrating that The Times would present this one example as the Christian view. Many Christians support same-sex marriage, but they always seem to be overlooked.
There are millions of religious people, Christian and otherwise, who believe gay marriage, far from being sinful or wrong, is a wonderful advance in human rights.