How do we define marriage? The California Supreme Court recently made its choice, saying yes to same-sex marriage. This week in Legal Times, two supporters of that ruling try to put it in context.
Lara Schwartz of the Human Rights Campaign praises the ruling as a "lesson in bread-and-butter constitutional principles." The decision is not a radical departure from prior law, she argues. Rather, it is "simply a departure from prior resistance to acknowledging that gay people are equal to everyone else."
Lawrence Levine, a professor at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, contends that the decision was largely preordained by California's legal landscape. The state had already granted gays and lesbians the right to form domestic partnerships that had virtually all the rights of marriage, which made withholding actual marriage hard to defend. Levine suggests that a similar result could happen in states such as Vermont and New Jersey that also embrace a marriage equivalent for their gay citizens.