In Wake of Prop 8 Defeat, Times Reflects on Gay Marriage as 'Wedge Issue'

A federal judge's ruling against Prop 8, the 2008 voter initiative banning gay marriage in California, was the source of editorial joy: "...a stirring and eloquently reasoned denunciation of all forms of irrational discrimination, the latest link in a chain of pathbreaking decisions that permitted interracial marriages and decriminalized gay sex between consenting adults."
Thursday's Times led with a federal judge declaring unconstitutional Proposition 8, the California initiative passed last year which defined marriage in the state as between a man and a woman, in a case surely headed for the Supreme Court: "California's Ban On Gay Marriage Is Struck Down" by Jesse McKinley and John Schwartz.

After explaining that the decision would not immediately lead to gay marriage in California, the reporters argued the pro-gay marriage side had the momentum.

But on Wednesday the winds seemed to be at the back of those who feel that marriage is not, as the voters of California and many other states have said, solely the province of a man and a woman.

Well, besides "California and many other states," thousands of years of world tradition and culture "have said" so as well. Agree or not, it's not a view that's fringe or new, or one that previously required electoral validation. After all Proposition 8 only transpired because the California Supreme Court unilaterally declared gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

McKinley and Schwartz burdened a position popular with conservatives with the unflattering label of "wedge issue," even though it was proponents of gay marriage that pushed it as a political issue in the first place.

How the decision might play politically was also still unclear. In 2004, same-sex marriage was seen as a wedge issue that helped draw conservatives to the polls, and Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues, said that this decision could be used as a rallying cry for Republicans again. "But Democrats and most importantly President Obama will now have to take sides on whether gays deserve full equality," Mr. Socarides wrote in an e-mail.

Thursday lead editorial, "Marriage Is a Constitutional Right," shared in the liberal joy:

The decision, though an instant landmark in American legal history, is more than that. It also is a stirring and eloquently reasoned denunciation of all forms of irrational discrimination, the latest link in a chain of pathbreaking decisions that permitted interracial marriages and decriminalized gay sex between consenting adults.

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