Thursday, August 12, 2004

Gay News Day

Two bombshells dealing with gay Americans hit the news today. The first was the release of a decision by the California Supreme Court in Lockyer v. San Francisco. The court ruled that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom did not have the authority to ignore a state law because he deemed it unconstitutional, and annulled all of the marriage licenses issued to gay couples by the city. The ruling was 7-0 on the question of whether Mayor Newsom overstepped his authority, and 5-2 on the question of whether the same-sex marriages issued should be annulled.

Speaking as an avid supporter of gay rights and gay marriage, I think this decision was correct. The proper avenue for determining the constitutionality of a law is through the courts, that's been a key tenant of our constitutional scheme since Marbury v. Madison and the rejection of the position of the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions. I would be as unwilling to reject 200 years of precedent for a position I find favorable as I would be if a local mayor decided, for example, that a local ordinance banning assualt weapons violated the 2nd amendment and refused to enforce that. This does not, of course, absolve all the conservative groups of their hypocrisy on this matter. Their "core belief" in federalism, decentralization, judicial restraint, and "the will of the people" seemed to not slow them down very much in their rush to ask the courts to nullify the actions of an elected official. They happened to be right in this case, but the inconsistancy is troubling and reflects poorly on them.
The second part of the ruling is a closer question I think. I'm inclined to agree with the dissenters that the marriages shouldn't have been invalidated until after the decision had been reached on the constitutionality of California's marriage laws. However, I see where the majority is coming from, and certainly don't think their holding is that outrageous.

The second bit of news falls into the "simply bizarre" category. New Jersey Governor James McGreevey (D) declared he was homosexual, admitted he had an extra-marital gay affair, and announced his resignation effective November. A transcript of his speech can be found here (thanks to How Appealing for the link).
I don't even know what to think about this. I suppose the resignation was the honorable thing to do (for the affair, not simply because he was gay). And the speech seemed to hit the right note to my ears. On the other hand, I'm not even convinced his career is over. This man was seen as a rising star in Democratic circles. Could he run for congress or state office as a spokesman for the gay community? I'm not sure we can write off Mr. McGreevey yet.

Overall, a very strange day for Gay activists.

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