Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,
Kate
kate_nepveu

California Same-Sex Marriage Decision

As everyone has said, California's highest court today ruled that "the designation of marriage" must be made "available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples." I am so happy about this, though my happiness must pale besides that of those more directly affected by the decision.

That decision, by the way, is 172 pages: 121 pages of majority opinion (including 73 footnotes), 40 pages of concurring and dissenting opinions, and 11 pages of administrative stuff (PDF, 500KB). I've only had time to skim the majority opinion (and I am, alas, not the sharpest knife in the drawer at the moment thanks to sleep deprivation), but the only word that comes to mind is "exhaustive." Which—to go off on a tangent—interests me, because there are several different potential audiences for all this exhaustive discourse, and talking to multiple audiences is a tough thing to do.

One potential audience is the U.S. Supreme Court. No, it can't directly review this decision, because it's based solely in the California constitution. However, if California's constitution is amended this November to overturn this decision [*], the permissibility of that amendment under the federal constitution might be challenged, as Colorado's Amendment 2 was challenged in Romer v. Evans. In which case the very scholarly, thorough, legally-oriented exhaustiveness of the decision might be aimed at the U.S. Supreme Court (though the idea of the current U.S. Supreme Court considering this question absolutely makes me shudder).

[*] I still can't really believe that California allows amendment of its Constitution by majority vote.

Another potential audience is other state courts, and a footnote indicates that a similar case is pending in Connecticut. However, much of its California-specific exhaustiveness doesn't seem relevant to providing a persuasive model for other states.

That exhaustiveness does seem relevant to, well, California, though; and considering the Court's certain knowledge that voters will pass judgment on its decision in November, I think the Court must've had the California public in mind as another intended audience. But I don't know how effective the decision is as a persuasive argument for this audience—the first twelve pages are a summary, but their tone and accessibility strike me as considerably different from the opening of the equivalent Massachusetts decision.

Have any of the non-lawyers here ventured into the decision itself? What did you think?

Tags: law, writing
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