On Saturday I attended my first wedding of the year. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and the whole thing went off seemingly without a hitch to the various guests assembled. Well, apart from the bride’s car breaking down, but what would life be if it couldn’t mimic a sitcom every once in a while. But in short, everyone was in a great mood, and the whole thing proceeded with a genuine sense of warmth, which was down to more than just the weather.
The fact that the happy couple were tying the knot wouldn’t come across as a surprised to anyone there. They had been together for many years already, and to anyone who knew them their marriage had become a matter of when, not if. Two people recognising and celebrating the fact that they love each other, what else could be more deserving of celebration?
You’d think so anyway wouldn’t you? Except for some people, a change of one small detail, one which I have in fact neglected to even mention in full, would change the above situation from something which should be celebrated, to something which should be prevented.
Today the Californian Supreme court voted to uphold Proposition 8, a dark stain which had made Obama’s victory in November, somewhat bitter-sweet. For the 52% of Californian voters who gave their support to the legislation, gender is far more important than love when it comes to marriage. Seemingly “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” bears a footnote ensuring that it is somewhat tempered if you happen to love someone with the same genitals as you.
“The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”
–Earl Warren 1891-1974
Governor of California 1943-1953,
Chief Justice of the United States 1953-1969
Of course, America has been through this all before, albeit in a slightly different guise. It has been 42 years since Earl Warren, a Californian, overturned Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act, and ended race based restrictions on marriage throughout the US. I’ve borrowed a quote from him, which is as valid now as it was then, and I hope that he’d approve of its usage in this context, even if it would distance him from 52% of voters in his state, and countless members of his Republican party.