Vote Stomp Leno Attempts to Validate Violating the Public Trust

california_vote_stomped

Senator Leno and his cohorts in the California State Legislature have some explaining to do.  Here’s their first attempt.  This letter was sent to a friend of mine (*name has been changed for privacy):

Hi California Voters*,

I hope this information helps clarify why Senator Leno is moving forward with his resolution SR7.

BACKGROUND

The California Legislature made history in 2005 by passing the first bill in the United States that would allow same-sex couples to obtain civil marriage licenses. The Legislature passed a nearly identical bill again in 2007. Both measures were vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In a May 2008 decision relying heavily on California’s legislative history relating to marriage for same-sex couples, the California Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the fundamental right to marriage and struck down California’s law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Following the Court’s landmark decision approximately 18,000 same-sex couples wed in California. The historic “Summer of Love” following the Court’s ruling captured international attention and encouraged other states, such as Connecticut and New York, to follow suit in allowing or recognizing marriage for same-sex couples.

So California Voters, in response to our discussion, the CA Supreme Court already ruled that denying same sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional. So opponents to this said, “Ok then, I guess we will just change the constitution.” That’s when the initiative process began… a whole different issue…

In February of 2008, out-of-state extremist organizations began circulating petitions to place a discriminatory marriage measure on California’s November ballot. What later qualified as Proposition 8 sought to permanently enshrine discrimination into the California Constitution. Civil rights groups quickly filed suit with the California Supreme Court in the case of Bennett v. Bowen, arguing that Prop 8 should not move forward for a popular vote without going to the Legislature first because it was a revision, or structural change to the Constitution, rather than an amendment. The Court declined to hear the case.

So the court never ruled on the issue of whether it was a revision or amendment because they argued that it was too early to bring the case to the court. The court doesn’t rule on hypothetical laws. If they did, and it didn’t pass, all of that work would be for nothing. So they said, “come back to us if it passes.”

And that’s exactly what we’re doing in the Resolution….

On November 4, 2008 Prop 8 passed by a narrow 52 percent margin. Civil rights organizations again filed suit with the California Supreme Court, asking that it overturn the initiative as an invalid revision. The Court accepted review of the case and could rule as early as June 2009. California Attorney General Jerry Brown recently filed his brief in the litigation on behalf of the state, arguing that he could not defend Prop 8 as it is in direct conflict with the guarantees of liberty and privacy contained in the Constitution.

So the court kept their promise, and they will rule on whether it is a revision or amendment in June.

PROPOSITION 8 WAS AN IMPROPER REVISION

Article XVIII of the California Constitution provides that while an amendment to the Constitution can be accomplished through the initiative process, a revision must originate in the Legislature and must be approved by a two-thirds vote before being submitted to the electorate.

In addition, Article III of the California Constitution establishes separation of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government and a system of checks and balances. Under Article III, the courts have the ultimate authority to interpret and enforce the principle of equal protection, and the Legislature has a crucial deliberative role in any proposed revision of our Constitution.

Proposition 8 seeks to eliminate the fundamental right of marriage for a particular minority group on the basis of a suspect classification – sexual orientation – while permitting the majority to retain that fundamental right. The initiative would substantially alter our basic governmental plan by eliminating equal protection as a structural check on the exercise of majority power and by permitting majorities to force groups defined by suspect classifications to fight to protect their fundamental rights under the California Constitution at every election. As such, Proposition 8 is an improper revision, sidestepping the constitutionally required rigors of the legislative process and depriving the Legislature of its role to examine and debate such a significant change to the principles and structure that underlie the California Constitution.

WHAT THIS RESOLUTION WOULD DO

Senate Resolution 7 would specify that significant revisions to the Constitution mandate distinct procedures and require a two-thirds vote of each house of the Legislature before going to the voters. It would put the Senate on record that Proposition 8 did not follow the proper process and should be overturned as an invalid revision to the California Constitution. SR 7 would safeguard the integrity of our constitutionally required checks and balances and help to ensure that minority rights are not stripped away at the ballot box by a simple vote of the majority.

Our Resolution does not say how the Court should rule, it just says that it is the opinion of the legislature that their authority to vote by 2/3 of each house was denied. We agree that you can revise the constitution, you just have to do it in the proper way. The process that everyone else has had to follow. If voters feel so strongly about this, they shouldn’t have a problem getting their representative to support this.

I hope this information helps,

(staffer)

Somehow just seeing all that twisted rhetoric pinned down to one sheet of paper just makes me want to get out my red pen.  Don’t you agree?  Ok, so that is their argument, let’s poke some holes in it.  Open Thread!  Let the rebuttals begin!

—Beetle Blogger

Advertisements

26 Comments

  1. rubyeliot said,

    February 25, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Can we send this to their office with a link?

    First the timing is off in the logic. The senator’s office claims:
    the CA Supreme Court already ruled that denying same sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional. So opponents to this said, “Ok then, I guess we will just change the constitution.” That’s when the initiative process began… a whole different issue…

    But the supreme court ruling happened in May 2008, and the next paragraph in this letter admits that the prop 8 initiative process began in February 2008– but I’m pretty sure the initiative process began even earlier than that…does anyone know?

  2. beetlebabee said,

    February 25, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    I think sending them a link would be awesome.

    I’ll see what I can dig up about the timeline, but I’m pretty sure that the effort started before the ruling. The court was eager to put their opinions out there before the people had a chance to vote on it, even though they knew that the people were planning on voting.

  3. beetlebabee said,

    February 25, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    You’re right Ruby, the characterization in this letter is off time wise. The initiative started gathering signatures in early February, had the initiative in order and qualified for the ballot on June 2. It wasn’t until July 16 that the court denied a petition saying prop 8 was a major revision. They denied it without comment.

    from wikipedia:

    In order to qualify for the ballot, Proposition 8 needed 694,354 valid petition signatures, equal to 8% of the total votes cast for governor in the November 2006 General Election. The initiative proponents submitted 1,120,801 signatures, and on June 2, 2008, the initiative qualified for the November 4, 2008 election ballot through the random sample signature check.

    On July 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court denied a petition calling for the removal of Proposition 8 from the November ballot. The petition asserted the proposition should not be on the ballot on the grounds it was a constitutional revision that only the Legislature or a constitutional convention could place before voters. Opponents also argued that the petitions circulated to qualify the measure for the ballot inaccurately summarized its effect. The court denied the petition without comment.

  4. Euripides said,

    February 25, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    The amendment v. revision question is just smoke and mirrors thought up by Jerry Brown and his ilk to establish a means to thwart the vote on Prop 8. It’s just like the Florida Supreme Court in 2000 trying to quickly throw out certain laws so that the democrats could win the presidential election. The US Supreme Court didn’t fall for that kind of nonsense. Unfortunately for Californians, it looks like the state legislature is dumb enough to try this sort of chicanery.

  5. beetlebabee said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Euripides, I think you’re right.

    The question at the heart of this issue is not one of revision vs. amendment, it’s whether or not sexual orientation is a special protected class and whether or not gay couples have a civil right to be able to call their unions by the title “marriage”.

    But is that what the court will be deciding?

  6. rubyeliot said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    BB, we should write something up about this response. If the legislature thought this would be an improper revision, why didn’t they do something during the election or during the first court decision.

    Another question:

    The staffer implies that the court’s dismissal of the case was due to it waiting to see the results of the election.

    The Court declined to hear the case.

    So the court never ruled on the issue of whether it was a revision or amendment because they argued that it was too early to bring the case to the court. The court doesn’t rule on hypothetical laws. If they did, and it didn’t pass, all of that work would be for nothing. So they said, “come back to us if it passes.”

    Is this right?

  7. rubyeliot said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Also, the signature process began in february, but the ballot initiative began earlier.

    From wikipedia under changes to the ballot title and summary:

    During the initiative process, the measure was known by three different titles: a proposed title, a circulating title and a ballot title. The title, as initially proposed by the measure’s proponents, was “The California Marriage Protection Act.” In November 2007, the Office of the California Attorney General prepared its “circulating title and summary”—that is, the title and summary to be used on the initiative’s signature petition—in accordance with California Election Code § 9002, 9004.[10] Its circulating title was “Limit on Marriage. Constitutional Amendment”[11] and the summary stated that the measure “amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

    After the California Supreme Court issued its May 2008 In re Marriage Cases ruling, which found laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage to be unconstitutional, the Office of the California Secretary of State certified the measure for the November 4, 2008 election, leaving intact its circulating title and summary.[9]

    Upon certification, it was sent back to the Attorney General’s office in accordance with California Election Code § 9051[12] for preparation of a “ballot title and summary” to be used on the ballot and in the official voter guide. Thus, the measure’s third, and final, title became “Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.”

  8. rubyeliot said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    also, the fundamental right was made up by the court. it didn’t exist before that decision.

  9. Raytmimer said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Talk about a piece of twisted logic! A revision requires a “substantial change” to the “underlying principles” of the entire constitution. Applying the historic definition for marriage to all citizens equally constitutes a valid amendment. Article 2, Section 8 of the state Constitution clearly sets forth the initiative process as a valid means of amending the Constitution. Codifying the definition of marriage via Proposition 8 was a proper amendment to the state Constitution.

  10. lauren said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    The court declined to hear the revision argument with no comment. So they could not have “argued that it was too early to bring the case to the court.”

    There was no comment so the court could not have said: “come back to us if it passes.”

  11. James R. said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Right Ray, because we’ve always understood marriage to be between a man and a woman, there is no substantial change to the underlying principles.

    Also, there’s the Equal Protection aspect. Equal Protection under the Constitution requires laws be applied regardless of an individual’s characteristics or situation, just as justice is administered blindly. Proposition 8’s amendment applies the definition of marriage equally, to heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals and all legal adults.

    Proposition 8 is actually the perfect example of a law that applies equally to all citizens.

  12. lauren said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Here is the link for the court decision:

    go here

    Great points James!

    Thanks for the discussion Beetle Babee!

  13. beetlebabee said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Good catch Lauren! I didn’t even see that!

  14. February 25, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    They write that
    “Proposition 8 seeks to eliminate the fundamental right of marriage for a particular minority group on the basis of a suspect classification – sexual orientation – while permitting the majority to retain that fundamental right.”

    Actually all groups have the right of marriage regardless of sexual orientation. ANY adult in California can be married regardless of sexual orientation.

    They are confusing the right to marry with the definition of marriage. NO adult in California may call a relationship marriage unless it is an exclusive relationship with another adult of the opposite sex who is not a close relative. Defining marriage does not exclude any group of people, it works equally for all groups.

    Reading this makes me a little sick to my stomach.

  15. rainbow reclaimed said,

    February 25, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    I just called leno’s office to make sure he was the author of sr 7. He is.

    I couldn’t help asking the staffer: Why does senator Leno think prop 8 violates the equal protection clause?

    She mumbled off some answer.

    I said: “The prop 8 definition covers everyone regardless of sexual
    orientation, race, gender, etc.

    Then I asked: How come siblings can’t get married, but it’s okay for
    same gender couples?

    She laughed.

    I said: Really, why don’t we let siblings get married?

    She said: Well, I think it’s unhealthy.

    I asked: Why?
    Then I started to explain, that measures could be taken to prevent the
    birth of children with birth defects.

    Then she went on a rant. And then she hung up.

    I plan on telling my own reps this story, and asking them to ask Leno and other Dems why this resolution is even taking up CA legislature time.

    If you’d like to ask Senator Leno the same question (or different):
    916-651-4003

  16. Chairm said,

    February 25, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Is there a more fundamental principle than,

    “We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our
    freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this
    Constitution.”

    ??????

  17. Chairm said,

    February 25, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Or —

    “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and they have the right to alter or reform it when the public good may require.”

  18. Eutychus said,

    February 25, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    “rainbow reclaimed said,
    Then I asked: How come siblings can’t get married, but it’s okay for
    same gender couples?…”

    Excellent! This is a very good argument. We really need to be able to state our opposition in compelling ways like this if we are to ever stem the tide of public opinion which is slowly turning against us.

  19. rubyeliot said,

    February 26, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Eutychus,

    It really is simple. People get bogged down in rights etc. but we put restrictions on marriage already.

    Marriage as between one man and one woman applies to everyone no matter the sexual orientation, race, religious belief etc. There is equal protection of the law, marriage excludes no one. People can choose to exclude themselves.

  20. February 26, 2009 at 4:20 am

    […] Beetle Babee: Vote Stomp Leno Validates Violating the Public Trust […]

  21. beetlebabee said,

    February 26, 2009 at 11:33 am

    “The historic “Summer of Love” following the Court’s ruling captured international attention and encouraged other states, such as Connecticut and New York, to follow suit in allowing or recognizing marriage for same-sex couples. “

    Our Supreme Court’s ruling did not benevolently influence other states. Their citizens did not all of a sudden choose to neuter marriage, their judiciaries were emboldened and their legislatures were emboldened to usurp the will of their people, not change the will of their people. There was no conversation on the benefits of SSM that led to a change of heart here. There never has been such an argument that has swayed the people to neuter marriage, free of coercion.

    In fact most countries who currently have ssm on the law books did not choose it based on merit. It was forced on them by power hungry judiciaries like ours.

  22. James R. said,

    February 26, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    This is the actual oath of office that Senator Leno and company swore to:

    “I, ______, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support
    and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Consti-
    tution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign
    and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the
    Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the
    State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without

    any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will
    well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about
    to enter.
    “And I do further swear (or affirm) that I do not advocate,
    nor
    am I a member of any party or organization, political or other-
    wise, that now advocates the overthrow of the Government of the
    United States or of the State of California by force or violence

    or other unlawful means; that within the five years immediately
    preceding the taking of this oath (or affirmation) I have not
    been a member of any party or organization, political or other-
    wise, that advocated the overthrow of the Government of the
    United States or of the State of California by force or violence

    or other unlawful means except as follows:
    ________________________________________________________________

    (If no affiliations, write in the words “No Exceptions”)
    and that during such time as I hold the office of ______________

    ________________________________ I will not advocate nor become
    (name of office)
    a member of any party or organization, political or otherwise,
    that advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United
    States or of the State of California by force or violence or
    other unlawful means.”

  23. James R. said,

    February 26, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    How’s that for a mandate to support the people? The constitution was written by the people, for the governing of the people. He swore to uphold it, all of it.

  24. Chairm said,

    February 26, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Elected representatives are public servants, not masters of the state.

  25. Zaribeni said,

    February 26, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Nice post! Keep it real.I have looked over your blog a few times and I love it.

  26. February 26, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    […] Babee posted this letter to her site last night in response to the letter her friend received from Senator Leno’s office justifying his authorship of SR 7. Please feel free to post this on […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: