26 May 2009

California rejects minority's rights

A re-cap: Same-sex marriage in California has been a long back and forth game. Twice, in 2005 and 2007, the bill was approved by the legislation and then vetoed by the Governor Schwarzenegger.

In summer 2008, California became the second US-State to allow citizens to marry whatever gender they loved. In November, a voter referendum, called Proposition 8 (Prop 8), passed by a 2% margin, annuled the rights of gays and lesbians to marry yet again.

For weeks and months after the ruling, a weapon-less civil war broke out with protests not only in California but the whole of the US.

The second American civil war began with thousands of protesters demanding equal rights under the law as gay and lesbian couples. Nowhere else has the fight for marriage been fought with more media attention, YouTube videos, Facebook groups and TV appearances with people throwing arguments about civil liberties or religious doctrines at each other.

For months, the legal outcome was unclear until the Supreme Court of California announced it would make a decision weather the Proposition 8 was valid and thus same-sex marriages invalid or if it would protect the rights of a minority that a majority-vote couldn't turn over.

Since November 2008, two countries and three US-states introduced same-sex marriages: Sweden (36m inhabitants), Norway (4,8m), Iowa (3m), Maine (1,3m), Vermont (0,6m). None of those had, however, such a big cultural impact as the battle for marriage in the 37-million-strong California with countless of world-famous actors, TV stars and thousands of bloggers jumping into the debate with strong feelings on both sides.

The ruling today did not re-instate California's reputation for a state where everyone is supposedly equal. It was one of the first states to repeal a ban on interracial marriages in the 70s but decades after blacks got their civil rights, gays and lesbians remain second class citizens. If there would have been a popular vote about the civil rights in the 70s, there'd probably be still no black US president today.

The court needs to understand it has to protect equality for everyone. History thought us what happens if a majority denies the rights to a minority group: Women, Jews and Blacks are the ones that learnt already how important universal rights are. Unfortunately, many of the once discriminated discriminate others again.

White Knot

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