The annual Rainbow Festival had midtown Sacramento humming with music and activities; but there was a political undertone to the event. On Tuesday, the opponents of Gay Marriage will appear before the State Supreme Court in San Francisco. They will ask the judges to give them the legal authority to fight for the definition of marriage approved by California voters almost three years ago.
With live music screaming from a stage located at the intersection of 20th and K streets it wasn’t hard to recognize the flamboyant side of homosexuality. But for many gays and lesbians marriage is about belonging, not standing out. ”It’s a human rights issue. We’re your next door neighbors, we’re your friends, we’re your family members; and we don’t want anything else that anyone else doesn’t already have,” says Michael Kennedy, a long time art gallery owner and one of the organizers of the festival.
Proposition 8 passed with 52% of the vote in November, 2008. It changed the state constitution and defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. ”Recognized legal partners have the same rights. But I think marriage is between a man and a woman,” says a man who would only identify himself as Gus.
But in August of 2010, Prop 8 was overturned was overturned by a gay federal court judge. When Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to appeal, backers of the measure asked for the legal right to challenge the ruling themselves. Randy Thomasson, with Save California dot com, says supporters of traditional marriage are not going to give up without a fight. ”This is an attack on our right to vote, an attack upon nature; and this is not going to go end until people who know what’s right stand up and say no more.”
Critics call this a selfish move by the gay establishment. They argue Domestic Partnerships offer the same benefits as same sex marriage. Not so, says Stefan Murphy of the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce. ”It has cost me thousands of dollars for the past 10 years. Taxes! Thousands of dollars I’ve had to pay because I’ve married a man.”
This may ultimately end up being issue of voting rights. Can a court system override the outcome of an election and the will of the people?
If the State Supreme Court rejects this unprecedented effort by backers of Prop 8, gay marriage ceremonies will almost certainly resume in California. But the high court isn’t likely to come to a decision quickly. Arguments begin on Tuesday in San Francisco.