"Second class citizens." That was the key phrase ABC's Brian Rooney isolated from the ruling by the Supreme Court of California that struck down the ban on marriages by gay couples. Rooney retraced the history of wedding ceremonies performed at City Hall in San Francisco in 2004 followed by their annulment and a statewide referendum that insisted that all marriages be heterosexual: "It is that law that was overturned today." On NBC, Pete Williams pointed out that California allowed gay couples to register as domestic partners with "the same legal rights as marriage" so it was not a lack of rights but the separate designation that perpetuated "the premise that gay individuals…can be treated less favorably."
The court's decision invoked California's constitution so it can only be overturned by a constitutional amendment. Such an initiative will be on the ballot in November, CBS' John Blackstone predicted, but in the meantime "a rush of gay weddings is expected" that will be "unquestionably legal." Blackstone asked CBS' in-house legal analyst Andrew Cohen to imagine what might happen if the constitutional amendment were to pass: "As a practical matter," Cohen reflected, "undoing those marriages is a headache." Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's Republican governor, urged defeat of the amendment.
So now same-sex marriage is protected by the constitutions of Massachusetts and California and prohibited by the constitutions of 26 states. Both ABC's George Stephanopoulos and CBS' Jeff Greenfield reminded us that ballot initiatives energized voter turnout among conservatives in the 2004 election. Greenfield reminded us that 13 states voted back then and the issue "might have made the difference in getting Ohio and therefore the White House" to George Bush. Stephanopoulos agreed, calling it a "game-changing issue" four years ago but not now since "so many states have already banned gay marriage." Besides California, CBS' Greenfield suggested the issue may be active in Florida and Arizona while NBC's Williams added Connecticut and Iowa.
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