History – our history – took a giant step forward a couple of hours ago. As you’ve likely heard by now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit just ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
This is huge. It makes it highly likely – pending possible appeal of the decision by Prop 8’s backers – that same-sex marriage will again be a reality up and down this enormous state. It promises to open the doors to marriage equality to millions. (And the fact that the Ninth Circuit panel issued a relatively narrow decision, limited to California, makes it less probable that the U.S. Supreme Court would hear an appeal.)
The movement for LGBT equality has never been strictly linear, with victory simply following on victory. That’s not the way it works with any movement for human freedom, and that’s not the way it works for this one. We’ve suffered all too many defeats and reverses, Prop 8 among them.
In time, Prop 8 will fade to an increasingly obscure historical note, one that future generations will read about with incredulity and embarrassment, as a moment when the people of California let baseless fear and prejudice cloud their vision of what this state should be all about. A moment when California somehow forgot that the love of two people should never be a time for censure, but always and only an occasion for joy.
Let’s face it. It would have been even better to have won at the ballot box, either back in 2008 or some day in the future. That kind of win – at the hands of the people themselves – would have marked progress more powerfully than a court case ever can.
But that, of course, is precisely why we have courts and why we have a Constitution. It’s their time-honored role to protect the interests of minorities. As the Court of Appeals wrote in today’s majority opinion, “The Constitution simply does not allow for ‘laws of this sort’.” (quoting the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark LGBT rights decision Romer v. Evans).
All of us at Horizons Foundation salute the litigators, congratulate the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and praise, with all our hearts and souls, the brilliance and dedication of our community’s advocates – the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, Equality California, Freedom to Marry, GLAD, the American Civil Liberties Union, and many more – which have truly lead this epic and historic struggle.
Finally, we thank every single one of you who supports our movement. Your generosity has helped make this victory possible. Nothing happens without your support. This victory is very, very much yours as well.
With pride and gratitude,