A three-judge appellate panel in my adopted home state upheld the Golden State’s domestic partnership legislation, finding that the act establishing such partnerships “did not constitute an amendment of the defense of marriage initiative.” According to the court, that initiative, passed overwhelmingly by California voters in March 2000, “intended only to limit the status of marriage to heterosexual couples and to prevent the recognition in California of homosexual marriages.” The initiative, however, didn’t “repeal our state’s then-existing domestic-partners law” nor did it prevent the legislature from enacting future domestic partnership legislation.
This California court got it right. The Campaign for California Families and the late state Senator Pete Knight, had sued, claiming that the Golden States’s domestic-partnership bill violated the 2000 initiative. The court, however, noted that “the Legislature has not created a ‘marriage’ by another name or granted domestic partners a status equivalent to married spouses.”
Randy Thomasson of the Campaign for California Families is upset by the ruling, yet feels it “gives impetus to the push for a constitutional amendment to protect marriage from the clutches of judges and politicians.” Thomasson also said “if it’s not a man and a woman, it’s not marriage.” That’s one reason the court got it right. The legislature didn’t call domestic partnerships marriages. The court noted that our elected legislators granted different privileges to each institution and defined different processes for entering into and ending each relationship.
I don’t always agree with much of what comes out of our legislature in Sacramento, but do agree that it did the right thing on domestic partnerships. If Mr. Thomasson has a problem with the bills our elected officials have enacted, he should understand that, in democracies, we have means to “punish” elected officials who don’t vote the way we’d like them to. They’re called elections. Instead of seeking to overturn a democratically-enacted institution in courts, he should turn his attention to the people (who elect the legislature) and attempt to convince them of the merits of his position.
Even if he did that, I don’t think he’d have much success. While the California legislature is frequently out of touch with fiscal reality, on domestic partnerships, it did recognize the consensus in the Golden State. California voters voted to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but even commercials for that initiative (2000’s Prop. 22) recognized same-sex couples. The California legislature came up with a compromise which our great Republican Governor supports.
Passed by an elected legislature, signed by an elected governor (albeit not the good one we have today), the California domestic-partners act was a reasonable compromise, reflecting a consensus in the Golden State. The appellate court was right to uphold the statue.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com