Same-sex marriage threatened in California

California became the second state after Massachusetts to officially recognize same-sex marriages after a May 15 state Supreme Court case struck down an existing ban on gay marriage arguing that such a ban did not provide for equal protection under the law. The decision, which went in effect in June, resulted in numerous gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage licenses in the state. But arguing for the sanctity of the man-woman marriage, a local initiative known as Proposition 8 to reinstate the ban on same sex marriage will be placed on the November presidential ballot. At this time, it appears as if the supporters of the ban outnumber the opponents, and so many more gay couples have been lining up to receive marriage licenses in anticipation of a defeat following the November elections.

But this has resulted in a logjam in the courts and churches, as the waiting period for an approved marriage license and ceremony continues to grow. To exacerbate matters, because California does not require that a person's marriage be recognized in other states, out-of-state gay couples have also been flocking to California in order to tie the knot. Proponents of Proposition 8 have used this phenomenon as ammunition in their cause, arguing that the steady stream of gay marriages is making it difficult for conventional couples to book wedding services and apply for licenses. 

An Oct. 6 poll estimated that 47 percent were in favor of the ban, 42 percent were against it and 10 percent remained undecided. But despite the outcome, it seems as if this situation presents a lose-lose situation for the state of California, regardless of the results of the November election. Passing the initiative would be a huge setback for the gay rights movement, which recently gained momentum when Connecticut became the third state in the country to recognize gay marriages, but it also stands to reason that the unusual flow of transient gay couples into California needs to be addressed to be fair to current state citizens applying for marriage. 

In that spirit, it stands to reason that a law limiting marriage to state residents would be most diplomatic, especially since out of state gay couples would not have their marriage licenses recognized in their places of residence. It would also protect the rights of California gays, who would retain the right to marry the person of their choosing. If this is truly the issue at hand, it would seem as if the above solution were logical and fair. However, there are many proponents of Proposition 8 who fundamentally disagree with allowing same sex couples the right to marry. Either way, an issue this divisive is likely to encourage a record turnout at the polls in November, and only time, not the results of independent polls, will tell the outcome. 

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