This week's topic: Do you agree with a federal judge's decision about Prop 8? -- Ed.
Friberg's Punch: Judge Walker’s ruling that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution is a resounding victory for the advancement of civil rights and social progress.
As Walker notes, “Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians.” In California, partners in civil unions have most, if not all, of the appurtenant legal benefits of married couples (common property, the right to adopt children, etc). Why spend countless sums to deny the title of “marriage” to LGBT couples if the law would not strip couples of any of these privileges? Clearly, to pass moral condemnation on those relationships.
The Proposition 8 campaign clearly implied that LGBT unions are not ideal for raising children and that LGBT relationships “do not deserve the full recognition of society” (again, Walker). Laws whose sole aim is to stigmatize certain groups have no place in a civilized society and are wholly un-American.
Lund's Punch: By declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional, Judge Walker has invalidated the votes of 52 percent of the state of California.
It is very interesting to hear his comments that somehow marriage qualifies under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Marriage has never been something that is “equally protected,” and there are laws on the books, including the Defense of Marriage Act, which show that the only legally recognized marriage is one between a man and a woman on a federal level.
California has taken steps to give gays and lesbians privileges and tax breaks that straight couples receive, so I am surprised that such a ruling was handed down. Supporters of Proposition 8 transcended race and religion to tell our state how to define marriage which is legal under federal law.
By denying Californians the right to determine their own laws, Judge Walker has dealt a severe blow to federalism.
Friberg's Counterpunch: We live in a Constitutional democracy: the judiciary must overturn state laws that violate the Bill of Rights -- this prevents a “tyranny of the majority” (Tocqueville). According to the 14th Amendment, laws that differentiate among people must at least advance a legitimate government purpose. Proposition 8’s sole purpose was to say that LGBT relationships aren’t as wholesome, good or socially desirable as heterosexual relationships. A legitimate role of government? No. A bit fascist? Yes.
Lund's Counterpunch: To be fair, there is no moral condemnation of homosexual relationships in Proposition 8. As my opponent points out, homosexual couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples do. Nobody is denying homosexuals any rights guaranteed by the Constitution, as they can do anything and everything that heterosexuals can.
Therefore, the only difference between marriage and a civil union is a church. What will the government do if churches say they won't perform gay marriages?
Aaron Friberg, the president of the San Diego County Young Democrats, graduated UCLA Law in May 2009 and will begin as an associate attorney of Latham & Watkins LLP in the fall
Andrew Lund is the president of the San Diego Young Republicans