Commentary: Marriage Equality Comes to Yolo County

On February 14, 2008, I was at the County Clerk’s Office once again covering County Clerk Freddie Oakley’s protest against laws prohibiting the marriage of same-sex partners during her lunch hour. The day when Freddie Oakley would actually be able to marry such partners seemed hopelessly far off in the distance.

All of that has changed with a recent court ruling that has left open a window of time perhaps between now and Election Day when California same-sex partners can wed. Who knows what the Election Day will bring, perhaps the run on same-sex marriages during that time will convince people that the sky will not fall and that same-sex partners can hardly do more damage to the institution of marriage than has already been inflicted by high divorce rates and infidelity. Maybe. Election Day must have seemed very far away yesterday for partners who have been waiting a lifetime to be legally and officially married. What it means to be legally and officially married will probably have to wait a few months or even years for the courts and the legislature to figure it out. But again, that likely was far from people’s minds yesterday.

I have to say one of the worst images of the day was that of the protester who barged into someone’s wedding.

The one plastered on television was Yuriy Popko:

“I came from the Soviet Union, and this is judicial tyranny – they’re starting to regulate religion.”

I am a very strong supporter of free speech, but whether you agree with gay marriage or not, shouldn’t people have the right not to have you barge into their wedding, a day they will remember for the rest of their lives? Protest outside if you must. I find that a very disgraceful act that does not reflect well on that individual’s faith.

Meanwhile controversy spread quickly across cyberspace in Davis as the revelations of an email from the owner of Ken’s Bike and Ski Shop circulated and were posted on the Davis Wiki.

People were calling on the boycott of the bicycle shop. It was a letter to County Clerk Freddie Oakley.

The letter urges the County Clerk to

“uphold California law and maintain public order by NOT issuing any same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses unless and until the laws regarding marriage in California are altered. The separation of powers provision of the California Constitution clearly states that laws may only be changed by the legislature (with the governor) or the initiative process. The courts may rule on the constitutionality of existing laws, but may not circumvent the Constitution by writing new laws.”

What the courts did of course was declare a law prohibiting same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Without such a law, local jurisdictions then have the right to determine their own policy.

He goes on to state:

“The applicable statutes (California Family Code, Sections 505, 300, 308.5, 301, etc) clearly state that marriage is between a man and a woman. County Clerks may not change the wording on these applications, and if in defiance of the law they do so, the California Department of Public Health must reject any such altered applications, as was properly done in 2004 by the Office of Vital Records.”

He is correct that County Clerks may not change the wording–but the court has the authority to declare such laws unconstitutional by ruling that they violate the equal protection under the law. The courts have perfect authority to make such a ruling which in effect strikes this language from the law.

Then the key part of the letter:

“Any attempt to circumvent these laws, absent a change in the laws governing these forms and the process for their use, is dangerous and unconstitutional.”

The courts of course have authority over what is and is not unconstitutional. In other words, the action is not unconstitutional unless the courts say so. By ruling the portions of the statute unconstitutional, they have negated those laws.

The owner of Ken’s Bike and Ski Shop of course has every right to express his opinion on such a matter. On the other hand, the wisdom of such an act in a town such as Davis is questionable. He should have expected that his letter would get out into the community and would likely cause harm to his business.

Meanwhile I can respect the views of those who believe that same-sex marriages go against their religious teaching. I do not wish to impose my morality on others anymore than they would impose theirs on me. What I do not understand is how a religion based on the teachings of love and forgiveness becomes so hateful and intolerant when the issue of gay marriage comes up (as opposed to all of the, in my book, far greater evils of the world that often do not even register a complaint).

The fight in California this fall, I am afraid will be polarizing and ugly. I think that is unfortunate. It is unfortunate that an act that is supposed to bind love and understanding will instead foster hatred and polarization.

Will the ban on same-sex marriages pass in November? It is an interesting question. California for example has tried to pass a parental notification law for several years and has not been able to. It will be interesting to see if the resolve against Gay Marriage runs deeper than that against certain aspects of abortion law.

In the meantime, it is my sincere hope that those who were finally able to marry are able to find peace and fulfillment within their new relationship.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Social Services/Issues

108 comments

  1. Perhaps this ammendment will now be harder to pass because it will be taking away rights that have already been granted.

    Obviously the owner of Ken’s Bikes can say what he wants, but it would seem you could guarantee to lose some business in Davis by taking public positions like that. Maybe there aren’t many other ski outfitters around, but there are definitely plenty of other bike shops in town.

  2. Perhaps this ammendment will now be harder to pass because it will be taking away rights that have already been granted.

    Obviously the owner of Ken’s Bikes can say what he wants, but it would seem you could guarantee to lose some business in Davis by taking public positions like that. Maybe there aren’t many other ski outfitters around, but there are definitely plenty of other bike shops in town.

  3. Perhaps this ammendment will now be harder to pass because it will be taking away rights that have already been granted.

    Obviously the owner of Ken’s Bikes can say what he wants, but it would seem you could guarantee to lose some business in Davis by taking public positions like that. Maybe there aren’t many other ski outfitters around, but there are definitely plenty of other bike shops in town.

  4. Perhaps this ammendment will now be harder to pass because it will be taking away rights that have already been granted.

    Obviously the owner of Ken’s Bikes can say what he wants, but it would seem you could guarantee to lose some business in Davis by taking public positions like that. Maybe there aren’t many other ski outfitters around, but there are definitely plenty of other bike shops in town.

  5. Yawn. I’m tired of hearing about this and even more tired of seeing Bailes and Pontac grinning at me; on the internet, in the newspaper, on the TV. Just do it! Actually, despite the fact that the terrible twosome are obviously reveling in the media attention (again), the media is probably driving this frenzy since it’s so much easeir to yammer about than: a trillion dollars gone missing in Iraq and 4000 American dead on one retarded chimp’s wet dream of Arab democracies created at gunpoint in our name.

  6. Yawn. I’m tired of hearing about this and even more tired of seeing Bailes and Pontac grinning at me; on the internet, in the newspaper, on the TV. Just do it! Actually, despite the fact that the terrible twosome are obviously reveling in the media attention (again), the media is probably driving this frenzy since it’s so much easeir to yammer about than: a trillion dollars gone missing in Iraq and 4000 American dead on one retarded chimp’s wet dream of Arab democracies created at gunpoint in our name.

  7. Yawn. I’m tired of hearing about this and even more tired of seeing Bailes and Pontac grinning at me; on the internet, in the newspaper, on the TV. Just do it! Actually, despite the fact that the terrible twosome are obviously reveling in the media attention (again), the media is probably driving this frenzy since it’s so much easeir to yammer about than: a trillion dollars gone missing in Iraq and 4000 American dead on one retarded chimp’s wet dream of Arab democracies created at gunpoint in our name.

  8. Yawn. I’m tired of hearing about this and even more tired of seeing Bailes and Pontac grinning at me; on the internet, in the newspaper, on the TV. Just do it! Actually, despite the fact that the terrible twosome are obviously reveling in the media attention (again), the media is probably driving this frenzy since it’s so much easeir to yammer about than: a trillion dollars gone missing in Iraq and 4000 American dead on one retarded chimp’s wet dream of Arab democracies created at gunpoint in our name.

  9. I remember the morning after my (straight) wedding being so excited to wake up next to my partner for life – my HUSBAND! I was so happy to be married to him. Funny, here we are many years later and I woke this morning thinking of so many gay couples waking up with that same feeling of joy to be MARRIED to the one he or she loves.

    I still absolutely adore my husband and am thrilled to be married to him still. I am glad that others who have waited so long are now able to feel this type of joy, too. Best wishes to all the newlyweds!

  10. I remember the morning after my (straight) wedding being so excited to wake up next to my partner for life – my HUSBAND! I was so happy to be married to him. Funny, here we are many years later and I woke this morning thinking of so many gay couples waking up with that same feeling of joy to be MARRIED to the one he or she loves.

    I still absolutely adore my husband and am thrilled to be married to him still. I am glad that others who have waited so long are now able to feel this type of joy, too. Best wishes to all the newlyweds!

  11. I remember the morning after my (straight) wedding being so excited to wake up next to my partner for life – my HUSBAND! I was so happy to be married to him. Funny, here we are many years later and I woke this morning thinking of so many gay couples waking up with that same feeling of joy to be MARRIED to the one he or she loves.

    I still absolutely adore my husband and am thrilled to be married to him still. I am glad that others who have waited so long are now able to feel this type of joy, too. Best wishes to all the newlyweds!

  12. I remember the morning after my (straight) wedding being so excited to wake up next to my partner for life – my HUSBAND! I was so happy to be married to him. Funny, here we are many years later and I woke this morning thinking of so many gay couples waking up with that same feeling of joy to be MARRIED to the one he or she loves.

    I still absolutely adore my husband and am thrilled to be married to him still. I am glad that others who have waited so long are now able to feel this type of joy, too. Best wishes to all the newlyweds!

  13. Why do zealots always insist on injecting their religion into state matters? No one is creating legislation requiring churches to perform marriages for gay couples. This is a simple matter of equal rights for all citizens.

    For those who would argue that this will lead to legalizing polygamy or pedophilia (heard it on the radio today) I will remind you that those are not rights and are illegal for all. No discrimination there.

  14. Why do zealots always insist on injecting their religion into state matters? No one is creating legislation requiring churches to perform marriages for gay couples. This is a simple matter of equal rights for all citizens.

    For those who would argue that this will lead to legalizing polygamy or pedophilia (heard it on the radio today) I will remind you that those are not rights and are illegal for all. No discrimination there.

  15. Why do zealots always insist on injecting their religion into state matters? No one is creating legislation requiring churches to perform marriages for gay couples. This is a simple matter of equal rights for all citizens.

    For those who would argue that this will lead to legalizing polygamy or pedophilia (heard it on the radio today) I will remind you that those are not rights and are illegal for all. No discrimination there.

  16. Why do zealots always insist on injecting their religion into state matters? No one is creating legislation requiring churches to perform marriages for gay couples. This is a simple matter of equal rights for all citizens.

    For those who would argue that this will lead to legalizing polygamy or pedophilia (heard it on the radio today) I will remind you that those are not rights and are illegal for all. No discrimination there.

  17. This post is being considered for The Sacramento Bee’s roundup of regional blogs, which appears in Forum, the Sunday commentary section.

    The Blog Watch column is limited to about 800 words. Blog posts included in the column are often trimmed to fit. The blog’s main address will appear in The Bee, and the online copy of the article will contain links to the actual blog post.

    If you have questions (or you DON’T want your blog post considered for inclusion in the newspaper column), contact me at greed@sacbee.com

    Gary Reed
    Forum Editor

  18. This post is being considered for The Sacramento Bee’s roundup of regional blogs, which appears in Forum, the Sunday commentary section.

    The Blog Watch column is limited to about 800 words. Blog posts included in the column are often trimmed to fit. The blog’s main address will appear in The Bee, and the online copy of the article will contain links to the actual blog post.

    If you have questions (or you DON’T want your blog post considered for inclusion in the newspaper column), contact me at greed@sacbee.com

    Gary Reed
    Forum Editor

  19. This post is being considered for The Sacramento Bee’s roundup of regional blogs, which appears in Forum, the Sunday commentary section.

    The Blog Watch column is limited to about 800 words. Blog posts included in the column are often trimmed to fit. The blog’s main address will appear in The Bee, and the online copy of the article will contain links to the actual blog post.

    If you have questions (or you DON’T want your blog post considered for inclusion in the newspaper column), contact me at greed@sacbee.com

    Gary Reed
    Forum Editor

  20. This post is being considered for The Sacramento Bee’s roundup of regional blogs, which appears in Forum, the Sunday commentary section.

    The Blog Watch column is limited to about 800 words. Blog posts included in the column are often trimmed to fit. The blog’s main address will appear in The Bee, and the online copy of the article will contain links to the actual blog post.

    If you have questions (or you DON’T want your blog post considered for inclusion in the newspaper column), contact me at greed@sacbee.com

    Gary Reed
    Forum Editor

  21. it’s amazing how easily people are willing to attack the whole idea of judicial review, as if marbury v. madison was some commie plot instead of a well-established 200 year old precedent..

    apparently our civics education wasn’t so hot back in the 50s either, if all these middle aged folks can’t manage to understand the constitutional role of a judiciary to judge the constitutionality of laws, and conflicts between laws.

    additionally, i am weary with these busybodies who feel like they have the right to tell everyone else what to do with their lives. noone’s forcing people to go get married, or forcing churches to marry people they don’t want to, just as loving v. virginia didn’t force southern baptists to marry interracial couples, just as no church is forced to marry interfaith couples or couples not members of their congregation.

    what they’re objecting to is their loss of dominion over society, their imagined moral authority to tell us all what we should do.

    thankfully, the authority to judge in california is reserved for the court system, not private religious groups. and even then, it’s limited to matters of law, not morality.

    remove the beam from your own eye, haters.

  22. it’s amazing how easily people are willing to attack the whole idea of judicial review, as if marbury v. madison was some commie plot instead of a well-established 200 year old precedent..

    apparently our civics education wasn’t so hot back in the 50s either, if all these middle aged folks can’t manage to understand the constitutional role of a judiciary to judge the constitutionality of laws, and conflicts between laws.

    additionally, i am weary with these busybodies who feel like they have the right to tell everyone else what to do with their lives. noone’s forcing people to go get married, or forcing churches to marry people they don’t want to, just as loving v. virginia didn’t force southern baptists to marry interracial couples, just as no church is forced to marry interfaith couples or couples not members of their congregation.

    what they’re objecting to is their loss of dominion over society, their imagined moral authority to tell us all what we should do.

    thankfully, the authority to judge in california is reserved for the court system, not private religious groups. and even then, it’s limited to matters of law, not morality.

    remove the beam from your own eye, haters.

  23. it’s amazing how easily people are willing to attack the whole idea of judicial review, as if marbury v. madison was some commie plot instead of a well-established 200 year old precedent..

    apparently our civics education wasn’t so hot back in the 50s either, if all these middle aged folks can’t manage to understand the constitutional role of a judiciary to judge the constitutionality of laws, and conflicts between laws.

    additionally, i am weary with these busybodies who feel like they have the right to tell everyone else what to do with their lives. noone’s forcing people to go get married, or forcing churches to marry people they don’t want to, just as loving v. virginia didn’t force southern baptists to marry interracial couples, just as no church is forced to marry interfaith couples or couples not members of their congregation.

    what they’re objecting to is their loss of dominion over society, their imagined moral authority to tell us all what we should do.

    thankfully, the authority to judge in california is reserved for the court system, not private religious groups. and even then, it’s limited to matters of law, not morality.

    remove the beam from your own eye, haters.

  24. it’s amazing how easily people are willing to attack the whole idea of judicial review, as if marbury v. madison was some commie plot instead of a well-established 200 year old precedent..

    apparently our civics education wasn’t so hot back in the 50s either, if all these middle aged folks can’t manage to understand the constitutional role of a judiciary to judge the constitutionality of laws, and conflicts between laws.

    additionally, i am weary with these busybodies who feel like they have the right to tell everyone else what to do with their lives. noone’s forcing people to go get married, or forcing churches to marry people they don’t want to, just as loving v. virginia didn’t force southern baptists to marry interracial couples, just as no church is forced to marry interfaith couples or couples not members of their congregation.

    what they’re objecting to is their loss of dominion over society, their imagined moral authority to tell us all what we should do.

    thankfully, the authority to judge in california is reserved for the court system, not private religious groups. and even then, it’s limited to matters of law, not morality.

    remove the beam from your own eye, haters.