I said it four years ago, and I’ll say it again today — as a progressive straight person, I’m beyond proud that my former home state of California has led the way and realized that gender shouldn’t have anything to do with the ability to love someone nor with the drive to build a family and a home.
In memory of my uncle Jack, who lived with Geoffrey for 25 years, in memory of my friend Michael who died too young of AIDS, in memory of my great-great Aunt Marie, “The Duchess” who lived in a Boston Marriage with her cousin and ran a settlement house in Chicago and in memory of her brother “The Colonel” who my grandmother claims never married because of his terrible psoriasis (but who I suspect, from having seen the photos of him as a dashing officer supervising the invasion of Italy during WWII was single for a different reason), for my dear beloved ex-boyfriend Johnny, who I knew played for the other team long before he did and who has spent the past 15 years with his boyfriend Michael, for all my other beloved gay friends and relatives — congratulations, Mazel Tov, may blessings rain down upon your heads.
As discussed below, upon review of the numerous California decisions that have examined the underlying bases and significance of the constitutional right to marry (and that illuminate why this right has been recognized as one of the basic, inalienable civil rights guaranteed to an individual by the California Constitution), we conclude that, under this state’s Constitution, the constitutionally based right to marry properly must be understood to encompass the core set of basic substantive legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage that are so integral to an individual’s liberty and personal autonomy that they may not be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature or by the electorate through the statutory initiative process. These core substantive rights include, most fundamentally, the opportunity of an individual to establish — with the person with whom the individual has chosen to share his or her life — an officially recognized and protected family possessing mutual rights and responsibilities and entitled to the same respect and dignity accorded a union traditionally designated as marriage.
As past cases establish, the substantive right of two adults who share a loving relationship to join together to establish an officially recognized family of their own — and, if the couple chooses, to raise children within that family —
constitutes a vitally important attribute of the fundamental interest in liberty and personal autonomy that the California Constitution secures to all persons for the benefit of both the individual and society. Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights. We therefore conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples
For all of us who have longed for a vision and model of marriage that is less constrained by traditional gender roles, for all of us who have longed for a vision of loving partnership that is progressive and not dependent on old, outmoded visions, whatever our sexual orientation, this is a joyous day. Congratulations everyone!