Sometimes the courts have to remind us that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are for every American, not just the one's who share our views.
This week, in a landmark ruling, California U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violated the due process and equal protection clause of the 14 amendment of the constitution.
Walker's decision may be to your liking, or it may not, but there's no question the ruling is sound. Proposition 8 marked the first time in American history that citizens voted to remove rights, not protect them.
But rights are not enumerated by a 51% majority. We vote on a lot of things in America, but we should not vote on whether other Americans are equal under the law.
That's why it's galling that the same people who sat silent when the Roberts court ruled that corporations are people (and should be able to use their largess to secretly influence elections) are now shouting themselves hoarse about 'activist judges.'
If you can't be consistent, at least make a convincing stab at it, or you'll end up looking like a crank.
It's fair to say the Civil Rights Act of 1968 would not have been upheld had it been voted on - 72% of the public at the time opposed it; and it's fair to say that same sex marriage rights would not be upheld if put to a vote yet (all 31 states who voted on the issue voted against marriage equality).
The courts, however, have consistently ruled that marriage is a basic human right and for that reason same sex marriage is now legal in Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. The list will grow.
Walker's ruling is being dismissed by some as biased. Being gay, they say, he can't have any objectivity on issues affecting gay life. Apart from being presumptuous (he has never actually announced he's gay) if this this claim was followed to it's conclusion then American jurisprudence would grind to a standstill.
Despite what his critics are saying Walker was nominated to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan, and renominated twice by President George H.W. Bush. He's no far left demagogue, he's a fierce and independent conservative who was initially opposed on those grounds.
The fact is that Proposition 8's defenders did not even come close to presenting persuasive evidence in court supporting their claim that gay marriages harm society and individuals. Two of their expert witnesses actually ended up agreeing they could point to no proof at all.
This is a significant and far reaching failure because for decades conservative activists have been predicting doom if same-sex marriage became legal. But it has become legal and they've become Chicken Little's, shouting louder because they've lost their audience.
'The evidence shows that, by every available metric, opposite-sex couples are not better than their same-sex counterparts; instead, as partners, parents and citizens, opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples are equal,' Walker wrote in his exacting, 136-page opinion.
Children born in 2010 will reach voting age and be appalled to remember that America once deprived gays and lesbians of the right to marry. Because by 2028 it will be a settled fact of life.
This game is over. A longstanding injustice is being redressed.