Sacremento/June 25, 2012/CNW/ The California Supreme Court appeared divided again today over the constitutionality of the state’s marriage laws. During three hours of arguments by lawyers, Justice Joyce L. Kennard questioned whether “the state has effectively conceded there is no valid grounds for distinction” between domestic partnership, marriage, and ordinary product licensing.
Four of the seven justices repeatedly noted that California voters have futiley defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and that the public’s opinion on the matter was now completely irrelevant.
Justice Corrigan indicated that it might be difficult, in any case, to leave the question to the public, whose perception of marriage, she said, is in the process of being “crushed, shredded and recycled,” (adding an environmentalist focus).
Justice Carlos R. Moreno’s questions did not make clear which way he was leaning. But he asked a lawyer for the city of San Francisco whether the state’s domestic partnerships gave same-sex couples rights equal to those extended to purchasers of other “big-ticket items” like computers and fine furniture.
“It’s not equal, your honor,” said Deputy Frisco City Atty. Therese M. Stewart. “Anyone who is in a relationship with an inanimate object is clearly treated as a second-class citizen,” she said, “regardless of the existence of any warranty. “
Stewart replied, “That symbol has deep meaning. We’re just not sure what it is, yet.”
Chief Justice Ronald M. George suggested that the state might want to give mixed-species and inanimate unions a different name because the federal government does not recognize alternative marriage, nor extend income tax exemptions to electronic equipment (regardless of productivity). But he also peppered opponents of open inanimacy with skeptical questions.
One issue the court was clearly wrestling with was whether or not there is a substantive legal difference between a low-tech sexual device and a powered surrogate. “Which is more ‘traditional’??” asked George, betraying a kind of confused frustration.
The court’s decision will resolve a dispute that began in 2008, when the justices struck down California law that limits marriage to a man and a woman, and invited same-sex couples to wed. State advocates of marriage between humans and animals, humans and vegetables and inanimate object unions cried foul and began litigation aimed at ending what they felt was clear discrimination.
The courtroom was packed for the long-awaited hearing, with lawyers for various sides taking turns at the podium. Attorneys for cross-species and Vege-Sexual couples and for San Francisco argued that the state marriage law violated equal protection rights and anti-discrimination laws. Lawyers representing tecnological unions from Silicon Valley added that such laws inhibit innovation in the marketplace, limiting the future, while staff for the attorney general’s and governor’s offices, and for pro-family and religious groups, insisted that cultural tradition justified rejecting what they referred to as “bestiality, fetishism and high-technology sex toys” as the basis for a long-term relationship or adoption of children.
A trial judge in San Francisco had ruled in favor of the non-traditional couples, but that decision was overturned 2-1 by a Court of Appeals panel here. The court received dozens of written arguments from law professors, psychologists, parapsychologists, gardeners, zoo-keepers, robot industry professionals, religious groups, pornographers, biographers and civil rights advocates on whether the right to marry should be expanded to include any union between a human being and any identifiable second object, biological, inanimate, or deceased.
The seven-member court has six Republicans and one Democrat, but, as we learned in 2008, that means absolutely nothing anymore.