Same-sex, same respect

Californians narrowly voted in favour of constitutional amendment Proposition 8—banning same-sex marriage—last week. Same-sex civil unions will still be performed.

This year, three of the 36 states that voted on ballot measures included a question on banning same-sex marriage. The ban also passed in Florida and Arizona.

In May, California became the second state after Massachusetts to allow same-sex marriage after its Supreme Court ruled in a four-to-three decision that banning certain couples from marrying violated the state constitution’s equal protection guarantee.

But Proposition 8 makes it once again illegal for same-sex couples in California to wed.

Although it’s disappointing that a traditionally liberal state would ban same-sex marriage, it’s an even bigger blow that California’s taking away a right that was granted less than six months ago.

The U.S. holds ballot measures in presidential election years in order to allow citizens a direct vote on changing state laws and amending state constitutions, but Proposition 8 is an example of where this practice goes wrong.

It’s unfair that a silent majority has the opportunity to vote on minority rights because it’s likely the majority will vote selfishly to maintain the status quo.

The government is elected to represent all people and it should look out for minority interests according to what is constitutionally right and not what people are comfortable with accepting.

It seems counterintuitive that a law deemed unconstitutional was even brought before the people for a vote.

Proposition 8 only won by a four per cent margin, showing that same-sex marriage is a contentious issue that would be better left to an impartial judiciary than an emotionally-charged and polarized electorate.

Both sides have been singling out the black vote—of which roughly 70 per cent voted in favour of the ban—as a way to explain why Proposition 8 passed, which sidetracks from the issue as other groups also voted for the ban.

Marriages that have been performed since May should remain legal.

California prides itself on being a trend-setter in social issues but right now it’s a nation’s shame.

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