In a groundbreaking decision, Federal court judge James D. Ware has officially issued an order to close California’s Proposition 8 case brought by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Campaign for California Families, among others. This case has, since November of 2008, meandered through the judicial system leaving opponents waiting on pins and needles to see when the court-ordered stay would be lifted, granting same-sex couples the right to marry once again. Today, it remains unclear when that day will come.
According to Prop8trialtracker.com, “There’s been some excitement today about activity in the Prop 8 case, but don’t worry: it’s just some housekeeping by the court, and has nothing to do with the judgement (sic) taking effect. Marriages can’t start until Ninth Circuit issues a mandate, and that’s pending a decision by the US Supreme Court.”
In other words, the defendants of the case are likely to appeal Judge Ware’s decision and the next step would be for the Supreme Court to hear that appeal.
Thus far the fight for marriage equality has been waged on a state-by-state basis. Indeed Washington State is in the throes of its own battle to win this precious right. The folks over at Washington United for Marriage are busy mobilizing phone banking volunteers, registering new voters a nd posting commitments from small-business owners on their Facebook page every day. That Governor Gregoire was more of an advocate for marriage equality than Governor Schwarzenegger made little difference when it came down to the appeal process, though. Opponents dutifully gathered the required signatures and submitted them by the deadline necessary to put the referendum on the ballot and the issue up for a vote.
The debate that persists is whether the right for marriage should be fought at the state level or whether our efforts would be better served by, say, fighting to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Human Rights Campaign puts its money behind state initiatives, sending the message that the best way to win marriage equality for all Americans is on a state-by-state basis.
When asked for a comment on how today’s ruling might impact the Washington State referendum campaign, Washington United for Marriage Press Secretary Andy Grow told The Seattle Lesbian, “We don’t have a take on the judge’s ruling. We are focused on the state referendum and are deliberate about not commenting on anything but that.”
Others, like New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have gone on record with the assertion that our necessary next step is repealing DOMA. One thing is certain, elevating the case to the Supreme Court puts the issue on the national stage and in the national consciousness, a necessary first step to winning the larger public’s support.