Bentrish Satarzadeh, Alice Co-Chair

Gay Marriage, Where Are We & Where Are We Headed?

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday April 26, 2011: “To hear them [Prop 8 supporters] describe it, defenders of traditional marriage during last year’s trial on California’s Proposition 8 felt like the visiting team in a game with a hometown referee.”

The hometown referee that they speak of is Judge Vaughn Walker that ruled proposition 8 was unconstitutional in August 2010. Proponents of Prop 8 are now grasping at straws as they feel their grip on the traditional notion of marriage slip away. As more and more members of the public grow in their support of gay marriage, as more and more court decisions, legislative decisions, and public opinion shifts towards an inclusive definition of marriage; the more ludicrous and ridiculous the prop 8 supporters become as they hold onto their out-dated belief system.

Their latest attempt is the accusation that Judge Vaughn Walker should have never presided over the Federal Gay Marriage case because he was interested in the outcome. Their reasoning is that as a gay man involved in a same-sex relationship for the last 10-years, it is likely that he would rule in a manner that would benefit himself which makes him too biased in order to have judged the case fairly.

“We are not suggesting that a gay or lesbian judge could not sit on this case,” said Andrew Pugno, attorney for ProtectMarriage.com. “Rather, our motion is all about the fundamental principle that no judge is permitted to try a case in which he has an interest in the outcome.” This argument essentially means that a female judge couldn’t preside over a case involving abortion or any case involving women. Or a judge of the same race/culture/religion as a party involved in a case would not be allowed to preside over that particular case. Because such a ruling would turn the justice system on its head, and because allowing attorneys to quiz the judge on whether he planned to marry (in Walker’s case) and to disclose what’s in their hearts would be an absurd overreach, many legal scholars believe the motion will be denied. On July 11 of this year, Judge Warner will decide whether this motion has any merit. If the motion is granted, Judge Walker’s decision will be over-turned.

In response to this news, some bloggers have shared as follows:

“Did I really just hear this? He said, the judge was in a long term relationship; the judge stated that marriage is the most sacred form of love; thus the judge, who did not marry his partner, is being contradictory in his beliefs thus should have recused himself? Say WHAT?”

“If there is a basis for Judge Walker to be recused then there is the same basis for a heterosexual judge to be recused. Who then is qualified to decide?”

“We are at the pinnacle of a social change and while this argument might go back and forth a bit more, ultimately same sex marriage will be accepted.”

The last blogger’s comment is correct. Although, it’s very likely that we will have gay marriage, however on the way, we will have to deal with more absurd arguments from the far right in the future as justice is delayed. Despite the best efforts of talented lawyers that handled the Federal Marriage Case and the eloquent and legally sound opinion by Judge Walker, we need to wait for quite a while for the regular legal process to deliver our rights.

Since we will have to wait a considerable amount of time before we see the progress that we seek from our court system, we must ask ourselves if we are willing to seek our rights in a different way. So the question is whether we should go back to the ballot box in 2012?

Our fellow advocates at Equality California have set up community town halls to discuss this very same issue. Before making any recommendation, Equality California will survey its membership, hold 10 town halls across the state and an online town hall, conduct a poll of likely 2012 voters, consult with political experts, coalition partners and engage with its members and the LGBT community. Equality California will announce results of polling and analysis by Labor Day.

I encourage the Alice membership to participate in this endeavor in order to (1) offer your valuable opinion, (2) to build a stronger coalition with EQCA, and (3) to help in the pursuit of our rights. Details of the San Francisco Town Hall on May 19th are below. Whether or not you can attend one of these events, please take the survey to share your thoughts on what comes next in our movement at www.eqca.org/prop8survery. I look forward to continuing the fight with all of you. Full speed ahead!

What: EQCA Community Town Hall to Discuss Prop 8 Repeal
When: Thursday, May 19 at 7:00 PM – 09:00 PM
Location: SF LGBT Community Center at1800 Market Street in San Francisco
Cost: Free

Bentrish Satarzadeh, Co-Chair
Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club

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