- Written by Robin Tyler
12 Mar 2013
TALK BACK - As the original plaintiff in the marriage equality case that brought same-sex marriage to California, I was surprised to read the article by Debra Saunders ‘California Same Sex Marriage Needs Voters Stamp.’
Well, marriage is a civil right and we are a civil rights movement. The CA Supreme Court ruled for equal marriage rights (there is no such thing as ‘gay’ marriage, just as there is no such thing as a ‘gay drivers license’ or a ‘gay birth certificate’) for same-sex couples. And their ruling was not, and should not have been based on what the voting public wanted. This is why that same court should not have upheld Proposition 8 and why we believe the US Supreme Court will strike it down.
When the California Supreme Court ruled for inter-racial marriage in 1948, 91% of the public as against Inter-Racial marriage.
When the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of inter-Racial marriage in the 1960’s, over 70% of the public was against inter-racial marriage.
It wasn’t until 1991 that a majority of the public in the US was for Inter-Racial marriage. Had people been allowed to vote on this issue, interracial couples would not have been able to legally marry until the 1990’s!
Our constitution says that ‘a majority shall not deny the rights of a minority.’
Therefore, why would the right to obtain a civil marriage license be denied by a voting process? Even though here in California we would win, as today 61% of the public in California believes that same-sex couples should have the right to marry, we still should not vote on civil rights. Why? Because, in many States our right to marry will never be obtained through the ballot box. Many of these are the same states where segregation in their schools had to be stopped by a court order and Federal intervention.
My wife Diane Olson and I were married on June 16, 2008. Subsequently, 18,000 same-sex couples were married here in California. Prop 8 passed, and not one more person other then the 36,000 who were married, was allowed to marry someone of the same-sex, thus creating marriage apartheid within our own community. This was a harsh thing for those of us who were married to live with.
My wife and I hit a ‘bump’ in our relationship and filed for divorce last year. But within the separation process, we realized how much we really loved each and want to live out our lives together within our marriage. We have since happily reconciled. You see, if a same-sex couple gets divorced in California, we may not be able to marry again. This is not about a ‘lifestyle.’ This is about our lives, and why should our lives be put up for a vote?
Domestic Partnership or Civil Unions are no more acceptable then drinking out of separate water fountains. Separate is never equal. Separate diminishes the value of the group that has to drink out of the different water fountain. It says ‘you will taint our water fountain’ or in this case the institution of marriage. Well, in the past 5 years, has California fallen into the sea because we are married?
Did the divorce rate for non-gay couples go up because we are married? What did our marriage have to do with yours? No, marriage equality for same-sex marriage does not need a voters’ stamp of approval.
Which is why Diane and I will be going to Washington Tuesday, March 26, when the Supreme Court takes up the case we started that resulted in Proposition 8. We may not be able to get into the court to see it, but we will be there to support the couples and the attorneys who are carrying on the struggle for justice.
Our marriages need the same thing every marriage does, understanding, work, commitment, nurturing and love. These are not values that people get to vote on.
The work is up to us.
(Robin Tyler was the original plaintiff in the marriage equality case that brought same-sex marriage to California. She is executive director of Equality Campaign, Inc. Her wife, Diane Olson, is the granddaughter of California Governor Culbert Levy Olson.)
Vol 11 Issue 21
Pub: Mar 12, 2013