Perry v. Schwarzenegger

This is just a quick post to note a few things that are interesting to me about the exciting judicial decision that came out of California on Wednesday. 

  • First of all, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker's decision was the absolutely right and obvious one, ruling against California's Proposition 8, that made gay marriage illegal.
  • Still more exciting is the fact that his "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" offers clear and emphatic articulations of why it's unconstitutional, unfair, oppressive, and illogical to make gay marriage illegal.  I may well teach parts of this text in classes in the future.
  • For example: "The tradition of restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples does not further any state interest. Rather, the evidence shows that Proposition 8 harms the state’s interest in equality, because it mandates that men and women be treated differently based only on antiquated and discredited notions of gender."
  • Or how about this:  "Moreover, the state cannot have an interest in disadvantaging an unpopular minority group simply because the group is unpopular."
  • And this conclusion:  "Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.  Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional."
  • And how about the fact that the academic work of feminist scholars is important in legal cases like this?  Who knew that feminist historian Nancy Cott's research would be of interest to anybody not in the academy?  Her quotes are all over the "Findings of Fact" document!
  • Finally, I'm very excited to share that one of the people who made this possible, who did countless all-night research projects, who sat in the courtroom for days and days and days hearing Proposition 8 proponents make loads of homophobic arguments, and who helped to construct the argument that has definitively won the day, is my cousin, Sarah Piepmeier.  I learned a lot from her during the New Haven weekend I've blogged about (and if I get her permission, perhaps I'll tell you some things).  I'm so proud!


Jims said...

Using the decision in teaching sounds like a good idea, something I might want to try too. I could see it pairing really well with Alexander's "Not Just (Any) Body Can Be a Citizen." Alexander is really good at discussing the state interest that laws like prop. 8 do maintain (although she's writing about the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago), i.e. state interests in the regulation of "deviant" bodies, so it provides opportunities to talk about how laws like prop. 8 go further than simply harming an interest in equality. And it's so cool that you had family involved in the decision!

Quiche said...

How did I miss this post?!? I didn't miss, however, the news when it hit, "ABOUT TIME!" was my reaction, and was fortunate to hear many of the key points you mentioned here, intelligent, articulate, logical...common sense, really. Nifty Sarah could be a part of this! This isn't just a civil rights win, but a human rights win, and hopefully will set the example not only in our country, but world over.