It’s been just over a year since the passing of Proposition 8 in early November 2008, the amendment that restricted the marriage between same-sex couples in California. One long year that has left the gay community questioning the legitimacy of their unions, and the potential for official state recognition.
Although it has only been a year since a major setback in what is being called our generation’s civil rights fight, it seems that gay marriage, no longer the “hot” topic of the day, has faded from the minds of most citizens. Replaced by concerns about the economy, health care and education, most Americans have pushed the question of gay marriage to the back burner.
After a brief period of hope in 2008, when over 18,000 couples were officially married in California between June and November, it seemed that we were finally taking a step forward. However, after the grievous blow of Prop 8, the only meager concession given to the state of California was the upholding of marriages performed that past summer, before the amendment’s passing. A small victory, but by no means satisfactory or acceptable.
While several concessions have been magnanimously imparted to the gay community by our glorious land of opportunity since 2008, it is clear that we are far from winning the war against ignorance and intolerance. In fact, in recent months several states have taken steps backwards in the fight for equality.
On Nov. 3, the state of Maine repealed its same-sex marriage statute. This most recent injustice was the latest in a series of repeals and rejections. Maine marks the 31st state to put gay marriage laws to a popular vote and lose. Presently, only Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa have officially legalized gay marriage. Out of the 50 states in our union, only five allow gay couples the same bonds that heterosexual couples have access to.
The UC, even with the budget crisis and fee increases, is doing more to support gay marriage than many states in the U.S. — a country that is currently undergoing similar financial crises and reassessment of priorities. According to the University of California Human Resources and Benefits Department, any UC employee with a domestic partner, regardless of gender, is eligible to the University of California’s retirement benefits and survivor benefits.
This public entity of California recognizes unions that many states have officially denied as being valid. Although we as a state are making some progress, conservative state statutes such as the Alabama Marriage Protection Act, take a step backwards, claiming same-sex marriage is not only against the laws of the state, but of nature.
We protest libraries closing and fee increases on a bi-weekly basis at UCSC. Why can’t we unite in the same spirit to protest this infringement of our constitutional rights? While Proposition 8 had yet to be voted on, UCSC was up in arms. Do we take defeat so easily? This is not to say that there are not many people still fighting on a daily basis to have these laws repealed all over the country, but what happened to our fire?
On January 11, 2010, the issue of the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 will be presented and debated in the federal courts by two lawyers, Ted Olson and David Boies. We must show our support and take up our right as citizens of this often great country by letting our lawmakers know that we will not stand for this breach of our social contract any longer. As a country of progress — go Obama! — we need to keep our momentum and not lose the fervor of 2008. This is no trend that will be idly passed by.
While the issue of same-sex marriage may no longer be splashed across every front page, the problem is still undeniably present. Students and non-students alike need to rally to the cause and make sure that this violation of human rights doesn’t goes unnoticed until it is rectified.