In an utterly unsurprising ruling, and one that is inarguable if one is peering through the narrowed prism of stringently secular law, and reducing marriage to a sort of contractual partnering, Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled restrictions against same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.
You can read the whole Prop 8 decision here.
I was intrigued with this part:
Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. Today, gender is not relevant to the state in determining spouses obligations to each other and to their dependents. Relative gender composition aside, same-sex couples are situated identically to opposite-sex couples in terms of their ability to perform the rights and obligations of marriage under California law. Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.
As I say, an expected ruling, given the narrowing of perspective. It is counter-intuitive to 5,000 years of human cultural understanding, but we’ve seen a lot of that, these past 40-or-so years.
My first thought: the churches–any of them who wish to remain able to practice their faith in relative freedom–will have to seriously consider getting out of the business of acting as “duly recognized” agents of the state in legalizing marriages. The alternative will be inevitable lawsuits charging “discrimination” for disallowing church weddings, a diminution of our constitutional right to free worship, and a further emptying of church coffers as settlements and fines are levied.
As I’ve written previously:
” . . . the churches should reconsider their roles in authenticating marriage. Governments issue birth certificates; churches issue baptismal certificates. Governments issue death certificates; churches pray the funerals. Governments issue divorces; Churches annul. Both work within their separate and necessary spheres, serving the corporeal and the spiritual. It is only in the issue of marriage that church and state have commingled authority. That should perhaps change, and soon. Let the government certify and the churches sanctify according to their rites and sacraments.”
These appeals are going to take forever. Can’t we just ask Anthony Kennedy what he thinks about gay marriage now?
Andrew Malcolm has an early roundup of reax.
Some are wondering where democracy is, when “the will of the people” can be overridden by judges. Well, it’s not like that’s something new. People are writing to me that “marriage is under attack.” I disagree. Marriage will go on. What is under attack is federalism.
Cardinal Francis George: Not Happy. Not surprised, either.
Hey, Christians live in exile, and we’re in for a long one. It’s part of the gig we signed on for.
Walker has issued a stay in his order.
Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church is preparing:
Armed with a new $400,000 grant and the support of the Episcopal Church, a Berkeley seminary is convening priests from across the country to craft the liturgical rite for same-sex couples to receive religious blessings.
The new rite, which will take years to complete, will most likely consist of a series of original prayers, Bible readings and two essays: one on the theological meaning of same-sex blessings, and one advising priests who administer the new rite.
More first reactions: Check back as I’ll be linking to them as I find them!
Chris is Right
BlogHer: Reaction Roundup
Kathryn Jean Lopez: “Recreating fundamental institutions. She has more here
Ace and Gabriel
Joe Carter: Disappointed, not surprised