Gay marriage: what now?, Thomas Ash

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November 6, 2008 @ 20:59 UTC

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Dennis highlights the success of California's Proposition 8, which amends the
state constitution to ban gay marriage.  This was a bitter note in
Tuesday's results, made all the more so by evidence that the surge in
African-American turnout carried the proposition to victory. Gay rights
activists clearly have a lot of work to do convincing socially
conservative blacks, unless they plan on hoping that their high turnout
was a passing aberration.

Other than continuing the slow process
of convincing Americans of the rightness of their cause, or simply
waiting for time to do its work as each new generation becomes more
tolerant, these activists have a few options. Attorney Gloria Allred
has already announced plans to challenge the constitutionality of the
new constitutional amendment - unsurprisingly, this does not seem
likely to succeed. Others are hoping to wait a few years and then
introduce a new proposition to overturn this one - a prospect which
suggests we may see decades of see-sawing court decisions and citizen
initiatives.

In the meantime, what will happen to those same-sex couples who have already got married in California? Eugene Volokh has a good rundown of the possibilities. In brief, it appears quite
possible that their marriages will be converted to domestic
partnerships, either by the courts or by the legislature. Strangely
enough, that would not provoke the ire of many who voted for
Proposition 8 - a solid majority of Americans are comfortable with
something very like gay marriage, so long as it is not called
'marriage'.

Despite the bad news in California, it is worth
remembering that Connecticut and Massachusetts still have equal
marriage rights, that New York recognises marriages in Massachusetts,
and that President-elect Obama has promised to push for federal civil
unions. Time remains the best ally supporters of gay marriage have on
their side.

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