Gay Wedding Day in California

Gay Wedding Day in California

Thousands of gay and lesbian couples are expected to tie the knot in the Golden State this week as California’s same-sex marriage law comes into effect today, one month after the Republican-majority California Supreme Court struck down a gay marriage ban.

50,000 gay California couples are expected to wed in the next three years as well as 68,000 from out-of-state (California has no residency requirement for marriage). Local governments have deputized and trained volunteers to perform nuptials, detailing public employees to help process marriage licenses.

That is, in the words of the poet, a whole lotta love. California’s caterers, florists, seamstresses, limo companies, and wedding bands are frantic. Not to be crass, but this will contribute many happy returns to the state’s economy: $392.3 million and 2,100 new jobs in the next three years.

Not all is orange blossoms and rice, however. Gay marriage is not recognized in many states, and an initiative on November California ballots may forbid and invalidate gay marriage. Here in Washington, DC I am the only one on my block who isn’t a lawyer, so it is unclear to me whether California’s proponents of gay marriage will be able to obtain a “stay” that will prevent invalidation of today’s same-sex marriages if the November initiate passes.

California has unusually strong recall, initiative, and referendum laws, reform measures passed at the beginning of the 20th century to overcome domination of the state legislature by railroad “robber barons” like Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Huntington and Mark Hopkins. These “Progressive” initiative and referendum laws have been utilized by extremists at both ends of the political spectrum in the last few decades as our society has become increasingly polarized.

Twenty-six state constitutions and seventeen state codes forbid same-sex marriages. The rights of California gay and lesbian couples (and five other states and the District of Columbia) are protected by “Domestic Partnership” laws, and Vermont, New Jersey and Connecticut recognize “Civil Unions” of same-sex couples,  Even the legal rights of California’s same-sex marriages differ from those of different-sex marriages.

The argument that civil unions and domestic partnerships are “separate but equal” to marriage grates harshly on the ear. Any result of California’s same-sex marriage ban initiative will grind through the legal apparatus for years until it reaches the U.S Supreme Court. It remains to be seen if Brown vs. Board of Education will be acknowledged as a precedent.

Image by Mike Licht, after Abbott Handerson Thayer and Richard E. Miller. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

One Response to “Gay Wedding Day in California”

  1. Johnny Says:

    Thank you for this, appriciated!
    תיירות גאה

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