The Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune don’t appear to comprehend last week’s ruling by federal Judge Vaughn Walker. Using tortured logic in an editorial today, the newspapers said that while they agreed with Walker’s decision to invalidate Prop 8, same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry in California until the federal challenge to the anti-gay-marriage ballot measure goes through the appeals process. The newspapers expressed concern that if gay marriages were allowed to take place now, they could later be “declared void” if Walker’s ruling is overturned. It’s the same argument put forward by the anti-gay-marriage crowd. And it has a fatal flaw:
So what if gay marriages that take place while the case is on appeal are later ruled invalid? Gay-marriage supporters certainly aren’t concerned about that prospect. Just the opposite. They know full well that Walker’s historic ruling that declared California’s ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional could be overturned on appeal. But they nonetheless want gay marriages to begin right away. Even Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Attorney General Jerry Brown are okay with gay marriages going forward immediately.
So if they’re all okay with it, what reason could the Trib and CoCo Times have for being against it?
The newspapers' argument, in reality, is patronizing. It’s like telling gays and lesbians (and state officials): “We know what’s best. And we think it’s best that the courts continue to deny gays and lesbians their basic rights for a few more years. The reason is that the happiness and joy that marriage will give them now might be followed by disappointment and despair if the courts later declare their marriages invalid.”
But who appointed the East Bay's two major dailies to be the legal guardians for same-sex couples? If gays and lesbians want to get married, it should be up to them, not a newspaper. And if some gays and lesbians are worried that their marriages will be voided later on, then they’re free to not get married until the courts decide the fate of Prop 8. It’s called freedom of choice. And there’s no reason that they should be denied it at this point.
As Walker noted in his ruling last week, defenders of Prop 8 will not be harmed if gay marriages go forward now. Indeed, the only potential harm may come to same-sex couples who wed, but later have their marriages invalidated. And if they want to take that risk in order to be happy, that's their right.