Thursday, August 12, 2004

Bad Day For Gay Marriage And Article XII Repeal

All three of these developments are bad for November's national and local elections. Let's start with the California Supreme Court.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The California Supreme Court on Thursday voided the nearly 4,000 same-sex marriages sanctioned in San Francisco this year and ruled unanimously that the mayor overstepped his authority by issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

The court said the city illegally issued the certificates and performed the ceremonies, since state law defined marriage as a union between a man and woman.
You already know this is going to get appealed. What this means is that the gay marriage issue will stay in the public's eye from now until November. Unless you are in complete denial you know that focus on this issue is bad for Democrats. If we are talking about gay marriage we are "off message" and not talking about our issues (health care, education, un/underemployment, civil rights, environment, etc.)

Let's move onto Article XII.

Supporters of a 1993 Cincinnati charter amendment that blocks City Council from passing a gay-rights ordinance say they'll go to court today to challenge an effort to repeal that amendment.

I don't know if they have the timing right. I'm told that the lawsuit may not get filed today, but that's not important. What is important is the substance of the lawsuit.
The Equal Rights Not Special Rights Committee said it's not trying to keep the repeal of the amendment now known as Article XII off the November ballot. But the group, closely affiliated with the Loveland-based conservative group Citizens for Community Values, does want to change ballot language that it calls "biased and misleading."

That language now reads: "Shall the charter of the City of Cincinnati be amended to repeal Article XII, which prohibits the city from protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation?"

The Citizens to Restore Fairness collected more than 14,000 signatures on a petition to repeal the law. Their proposed ballot language was approved by City Council last week and sent to the Board of Elections.

Phil Burress, the president of the pro-Article XII group, wants to strike everything after the comma, which he said is "editorializing," and replace it with the verbatim text of Article XII itself - the same language voters saw in 1993.

"The word 'discrimination' is not mentioned in Article XII. It has nothing to do with discrimination," he said. "This is the crux of the whole debate. They say it's about discrimination. We said in 1993 it wasn't, and the federal courts upheld our position, so obviously it's not."

The 1993 charter amendment, approved with 62 percent of the vote, prohibits City Council from conferring "minority or protected status, quota preference or other preferential treatment" based on homosexual behavior or orientation.
Look. I know we hate to admit it but Phil Burress and his attorney, Chris Finney, are right about this. There are dozens of cases on this point and they all say that you can't do this sort of editorializing with the ballot language. By filing this lawsuit, the anti-repeal folks get free publicity and when they prevail in court, and believe me they will, they get to paint the picture that not only do the pro-repeal folks want legislative "special rights", they want to have "special rights" with everything, including ignoring ballot language.

Here is my advice. Quit trying to cheat. Fix the language and eliminate the editorializing. Fight a fair fight. Quit pretending this effort has broad support and work to actually get a broad coalition. That won't come if the people behind the repeal effort don't show genuine respect to potential allies. (I can't guarantee that at this late date you can build the type of coalition needed to win but it never hurts to try.)

And what about the Governor of New Jersey admitting that he is gay and resigning his office?

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - In a stunning declaration, Gov. James E. McGreevey acknowledged that he had an extramarital affair with another man and announced his resignation Thursday. "My truth is that I am a gay American," he said.

"Shamefully, I engaged in adult consensual affairs with another man, which violates my bonds of matrimony," the married father of two said. "It was wrong, it was foolish, it was inexcusable."

The Democrat said his resignation would be effective Nov. 15.