After Prop. 8, Gay-Marriage Proponents Plot Next Step

  • Share
  • Read Later
Justin Sullivan / Getty

Opponents of Prop. 8 in San Francisco march to the California supreme court in May 2009

(2 of 2)

The fight for gay rights has been broadened in other ways too — not just geographically. President Obama is under pressure to stop enforcing the military's prohibition that prevents gay servicemen and -women from serving openly. And activists want Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, a law they say that is increasingly at odds with the small but growing number of states that have made gay marriage legal.

Jacobs tells TIME he still sees California as the epicenter of these fights. Obama will get a taste of the passions running deep in the Golden State as soon as Wednesday night, when he appears at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles for a fundraiser. Lieutenant Dan Choi, an Arabic-speaking Iraq War veteran who is the first soldier to be dismissed from the Army under Obama, will be standing outside with Jacobs and others to urge the President to take action. "So much is coming from California right now," says Jacobs. "Don't Ask Don't Tell is really hurting American national security. This lieutenant is a West Point graduate, served in the Triangle of Death [in Iraq], and is now being fired, kicked out of the Army, because he went on the air and said he loves a man."

If gay-marriage supporters do press the vote again, they will have one ready source of allies — the 18,000 couples who were married in the brief window of time when gay marriage was legal in California and whose marriages remain intact. The court unanimously upheld those marriages in Tuesday's opinion. At the end of last week, as if anticipating the court defeat, the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights advocacy group, released an inspirational video to rally support, promising that the 18,000 couples and their friends around the country would not be backing down. (See pictures of the gay-rights movement, from Stonewall to Prop 8.)

Meanwhile, gay marriage opponents were relieved that the court ruled in favor of Prop 8. Speaking just before the ruling was announced, the Rev. Albert Mohler told TIME that the court must tread carefully to avoid eroding its credibility. "Repeatedly, courts at every level have taken action to undermine their own legitimacy in view of public," said Mohler, who is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. But he also said that thanks in part to the democratic nature of amendment processes like those in play in California, even the most outrageous rulings can be absorbed by the church.

"The courts are part of a larger governmental structure that remains legitimate," he told TIME. "So long as there is a democratic recourse to change [decisions that Christians consider extreme], I would counsel the church to continue to see the courts as legitimate. Should the California supreme court invalidate Prop 8, it would put that court in direct defiance of the people of California." As long as the initiative process exists, there is a political solution, he said.

That's exactly what's on the minds of people on the other side. They have already begun to gather signatures and hope to ask voters to change their minds in 2010. After that, somebody may want to take George's advice and think though whether it makes sense to be able to change the constitution so easily in California.

Watch a gay-marriage wedding video.

See TIME's Pictures of the Week.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next