It’s An Election Year

     The Internet is so darn humbling.
     Here I was, thinking I’d come up with a clever way to open a column with a quote from a Steven Stills song, and then I looked up the phrase on Google.
     Apparently about 142,000 other people had had the same idea.
     Sigh.
     It’s hard to be creative when there’s so much creation going on out there.
     So I’m skipping the quote – see if you can guess what it was – and getting right to the heart of the matter: California has officially kicked off the Paranoid Conspiracy Season.
     I’m speaking, of course, of the ruling by the California Supreme Court that gay marriages are legal in the state. What else could this be but a plot to derail the Democrats in the presidential election?
     Come on. You see it, don’t you?
     A state chief justice appointed by a conservative Republican governor writes a ruling giving gay people rights? Why would he do that?
     I’ll tell you why. Because he wants to rile up the right-wing electorate and get some of the middle-of-the-road types to vote against Democrats. There was talk of getting an anti-gay marriage initiative on the November ballot – the same ballot as that presidential election in the stories reporting the ruling. These people work fast.
     This can’t be a coincidence. Think back to the last presidential election. Didn’t the same thing happen? They just shipped the playbook from Massachusetts to California.
     So the question becomes what should the other side do?
     So far the election seems to hinge on which candidate has associated with the most obnoxious preacher and which candidate is too old or too young (or too female, if you still include Hillary). The gay thing steps it up a notch. So abortion is next.
     The Democrats have to get some state legislature or supreme court to outlaw abortion. Then we’ll be back to even.
     Of course the really amazing thing about this California ruling is how what amounts to a simple matter of semantics seems to drive people to euphoria or disgust or election paranoia.
     And it is just semantics.
     Here’s what court ruling said: “(T)he legal issue we must resolve is not whether it would be constitutionally permissible under the California Constitution for the state to limit marriage only to opposite-sex couples while denying same-sex couples any opportunity to enter into an office relationship with all or virtually all of the same substantive attributes, but rather whether our state Constitution prohibits the state from establishing a statutory scheme in which both opposite-sex and same-sex couples are granted the right to enter into an officially recognized family relationship that affords all of the significant legal rights and obligations traditionally associated under state law with the institution of marriage, but under which the union of an opposite-sex couple is officially designated a ‘marriage’ whereas the union of a same-sex couple is officially designated a ‘domestic partnership.’ The question we must address is whether, under these circumstances, the failure to designate the official relationship of same-sex couples as marriage violates the California Constitution.”
     That’s right. We’re dealing with the constitutionality of labeling.
     Why would people spend years in litigation and go on crusades over a label?
     It’s pretty obvious, I should think: there’s a presidential election every four years.
     See footnote three of the California ruling pointing out that “the only out-of-state high court decision to address a comparable issue” was that one in Massachusetts four years ago.
     And you thought I was just paranoid.

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