Like many of you, I was disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t spend more time discussing the core issue of civil rights when it heard arguments about same-sex marriage this week.
The unique nature of the Proposition 8 case was one reason it was surprising that the court agreed to review it. All the talk about “standing” was like the boring parts of a celebrity autobiography, just something you sit through waiting for the juicy parts.
Yes, it’s important to figure out what to do when an initiative is enacted by voters but officials refuse to defend it, as occurred in California with Prop. 8. But no one was standing outside the court with signs reading, “God hates Article III of the U.S. Constitution!” or “‘I DO’ support the freedom to defend a law even without a fiduciary responsibility!”
Commentary at oral arguments isn’t an exact science — Chief Justice John Roberts appeared to be against the Affordable Care Act and we know how that turned out. Still, it seems pretty clear that there isn’t support for either a full ban on same-sex marriage or a mandate that all states allow it. So the ruling will be a punt of some sort, and likely to uphold the lower court’s ruling that Prop. 8 was unconstitutional.
Remember though, that the Loving v. Virginia case that allowed members of different races to marry in 1967 came a full 19 years after the California Supreme Court did the same thing in Perez v. Stark. The high court seems to take its time making sweeping pronouncements.
Which is not to say waiting is harmless.
Consider this sad tale from the Los Angeles Times in 1915: “Because a blood test, made by scientists, disclosed the fact that she was not of Negro parentage, Margaret Buckner Lytle has ?led a suit for divorce in the Superior Court of San Francisco from her Negro husband, William N. Lytle, a dentist of Oakland.”
For many people, the next three months will be an eternity.
“Sentimental odds are on a San Francisco 49er. They practically hang homophobes in San Francisco.”
— Mike Strobel, in a Tuesday column in the Toronto Sun on the prospect of a professional football player coming out of the closet