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Prop. 8 hearing to be televised on Thursday

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In case anyone doesn't know this, the California Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments about whether to repeal Prop. 8 tomorrow. That's Thursday, March 5, from 9:00 a.m. to noon California time.

The hearing will be televised on the California Channel, both on their website and on cable TV. It may be hard to connect to the webcast due to very high demand, but the recording will remain available in their archives afterward.

An interesting LA Times article says that "the court already has drafted a decision on the case," which surprises me a great deal; the article adds that "Oral arguments sometimes result in changes to the draft, but rarely do they change the majority position."

The article also says:

Most legal analysts expect that the court will garner enough votes [from Justices] to uphold existing marriages but not enough to overturn Proposition 8.

But we may not find out what the ruling is for another three months; the Court has 90 days to issue its ruling.

The article also mentions the idea that the Court could decide that the state has to stop using the word "marriage" at all, leaving the term to apply only to religious marriage.

This is an idea that I see brought up over and over again in conversations about same-sex marriage, usually proposed by a well-meaning geek as the only logical solution to the dilemma.

In an ideal world, I'd be more or less in favor of some variation on that basic idea (that is, I'd be happy to say that the state shouldn't be in the marriage business), but I just don't find it at all plausible in the real world. I think people who propose that approach as an easy answer may not be aware of just how important the word "marriage" is to people. I suspect we would have riots in the streets if ordinary straight couples were told that they were no longer married in the eyes of the state, that their marriages had become (say) domestic partnerships or civil unions. Not to mention the confusion, since the US government would still call them marriages.

(I see some of you with fingers poised above keyboards to say "Yeah, but it would be a great way to make straight married couples understand viscerally what same-sex couples are going through here." I disagree. I think it would be a great way to get straight married couples to say "Those damn queers took away our right to be married!" If this were a vote, it might be different--if the public were forced to choose either marriage for all or marriage for none, I imagine they'd choose marriage for all. But that vote isn't going to happen. And the matter at hand isn't a vote, it's a state Supreme Court decision, so making the no-marriage thing apply to everyone seems to me unlikely to win allies.)

Anyway, I can't really imagine the Court making that decision. I can imagine them booting it to the legislature--"You have to come up with a solution that addresses this problem." That's more or less what's happened a couple of times out East. But I would be shocked if the current California Supreme Court were to tell the state not to apply the word "marriage" to anyone any more.

Guess I've kind of drifted from my main topic. Really mostly just wanted to note that the hearings are happening on Thursday and will be televised.

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Count me in with the well-meaning geek group. I'm all for separating the legal and religious definitions of marriage, and removing the right of the religious officials to have any legal say about who's married in the state's eyes and who's not. I've posted about it in Livejournal a bunch of times.

However, you are undoubtedly right that that faces even more of an uphill battle than the fight for gay marriage. I haven't checked the supreme court links yet--afraid of what I'll hear, I suppose.

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