Friday, April 3, 2009

marriage equality through courts and legislatures

Iowa today joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, and (formerly) California, as a state where marriage equality has been achieved through court action. While that's exciting news, and I'll take the victory however it comes, we are still waiting for a state to achieve marriage equality through legislative action or popular vote.

Vermont is currently close. Both houses of their legislature have passed marriage equality bills and once the separate versions are brought into line the bill will go the governor's desk. However, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas has already promised to veto the bill.

At this point in the Vermont story we've been there before: in California. The California legislature has twice passed bills that would open marriage in California to same-sex couples (2005 and 2007). And on both occasions our Governor vetoed the bills. In California we were nowhere close to the number of votes required to overturn the veto and no attempt was made. In Vermont the vote will be close but has a good chance of winning.

That would make Vermont the first state to achieve marriage equality through legislative process. What about popular vote?

Back again to California. There is still an enormous amount of will power in California to add our state to the growing number that offer marriage to same-sex couples. With our state constitution now amended to include discriminatory language there is nothing the legislature or court can do. (I'm assuming that the California State Supreme Court will uphold Proposition 8). But our constitution is easily amended by a 50% popular vote. The same process which gave us Proposition 8 allows Californians to create marriage equality by popular vote. I'll even guess the date: 2012, and I doubt that any other state will beat us to that mark.

1 comment:

Bill Baar said...

Looking at polling data and you'll see a steady acceptance of ssm unitl a court jumps in, then opposition spikes up.

The outcome then is a consitutional amendment defining marriage as one man one women.

These court decisions are catastrophic because once marriage defined constitutionally it will be very hard to undo.

People who celebrate this decision, or absurdly congratulate the people of Iowa (it was Judges, not voters) really need a reality check.