Why do liberals keep pushing same-sex marriage on a country that clearly doesn’t want it–especially when this is so obviously disastrous for the national political prospects of the Democrats? Why would California’s state legislature blatantly countermand a decision by the people of California, who expressed themselves by a 61 to 39 percent majority only five years ago? The proximate answer is that the legislature wants to head off yet another state referendum, this one likely to write marriage as the union of a man and a woman into California’s constitution. That measure may still pass, but the legislature is trying to put facts on the ground now, in hopes that these will sway the public against a state constitutional amendment.
Of course the deeper reason for the political madness of California’s Democrats is their belief that same-sex marriage is a simple question of basic civil rights. However sincerely this belief is held, it is badly mistaken. For a brief response on the substantive question, see the first section of my “Deathblow to Marriage.”
Governor Schwarzenegger now has a serious no-win political problem on his hands. He’s likely to veto the bill. But if he signs it, the gay marriage issue will be supercharged on the national level. In contrast to Massachusetts, California has no law prohibiting marriage to out-of-state couples if those marriages would be illegal in their home states. That would likely mean a flood of marriages of out-of-state couples, and a series of legal challenges to marriage in states across the nation. The pressure for state constitutional amendments will escalate massively. Gay marriage would move to the front burner of the nation’s politics directly in advance of the next election.
Gay marriage in California would also highlight the importance of the Supreme Court. Given Anthony Kennedy’s position, it’s unlikely that even confirmation of John Roberts and a conservative replacement for Justice Renquist would, by themselves, prevent the Supreme Court from nationalizing same-sex marriage in the wake of California induced chaos. Only a Federal Marriage Amendment would do that. So same-sex marriage in California would likely supercharge the movement for a Federal Marriage Amendment. One way or another, sooner or later, like it or not, this country is headed toward a national showdown on same-sex marriage.