Barack Obama | California | Election 2008 | Gay Marriage | Hillary Clinton | Nancy Pelosi | News

Same-Sex Marriage in California: The Candidates React


The three leading presidential candidates offered dry, predictable statements regarding yesterday's same-sex marriage ruling in California, reiterating their positions on the issue.

Obama campaign:

Sfcityhall2"Barack Obama has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions as President. He respects the decision of the California Supreme Court, and continues to believe that states should make their own decisions when it comes to the issue of marriage."

Clinton campaign:

"Hillary Clinton believes that gay and lesbian couples in committed relationships should have the same rights and responsibilities as all Americans and believes that civil unions are the best way to achieve this goal. As President, Hillary Clinton will work to ensure that same sex couples have access to these rights and responsibilities at the federal level. She has said and continues to believe that the issue of marriage should be left to the states."

McCain campaign:

"John McCain supports the right of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution sanctioning the union between a man and a woman, just as he did in his home state of Arizona. John McCain doesn’t believe judges should be making these decisions."

Libertarian candidate Bob Barr:

"Regardless of whether one supports or opposes same sex marriage, the decision to recognize such unions or not ought to be a power each state exercises on its own, rather than imposition of a one-size-fits-all mandate by the federal government (as would be required by a Federal Marriage Amendment which has been previously proposed and considered by the Congress). The decision today by the Supreme Court of California properly reflects this fundamental principle of federalism on which our nation was founded...Indeed, the primary reason for which I authored the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 was to ensure that each state remained free to determine for its citizens the basis on which marriage would be recognized within its borders, and not be forced to adopt a definition of marriage contrary to its views by another state. The decision in California is an illustration of how this principle of states' powers should work."

And a bonus reaction, your Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi:

"I welcome the California Supreme Court’s historic decision. I have long fought against discrimination and believe that the State Constitution provides for equal treatment for all of California’s citizens and families, which today’s decision recognizes. I commend the plaintiffs from San Francisco for their courage and commitment. I encourage California citizens to respect the Court’s decision, and I continue to strongly oppose any ballot measure that would write discrimination into the State Constitution. Today is a significant milestone for which all Californians can take pride."

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  1. Barak somehow thinks that seperate but equal is a good idea. Let's overturn Brown v. Board of Education and sees what he thinks about that idea then.

    Clinton the same thing only she doesn't want to repeal all of DOMA, think there is still some need to make them seperate. Let's repeal the 19th ammendent and see what shes says about equality.

    McCain completely wrong but completely honest in his stupdity.

    Posted by: kujhawker | May 16, 2008 8:03:43 AM

  2. Who knows what McCain really thinks. He probably doesn't care. But he has to say what he said because he needs the support of the religious right in the next election.

    Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2008 8:11:48 AM

  3. From Andrew Sullivan

    The Court did not rule that California must allow same-sex couples the right to enter into "marriage." It merely ruled that if the state allows opposite-sex couples to do so, then same-sex couples must be treated equally. The Court explicitly left open the possibility that the state could distinguish between "marriage" (as a religious institution) and "civil unions" (as a secular institution) -- i.e., that California law could leave the definition of "marriage" to religious institutions and only offer and recognize "civil unions" for legal purposes -- provides that it treated opposite-sex and same-sex couples equally. The key legal issue is equal treatment by the State as a secular matter, not defining "marriage" for religious purposes.

    And this:

    No rational person can criticize the Court's decision here without having at least a basic understanding of the governing California precedents. Anyone who condemns this ruling without having that understanding will be demonstrating a profound ignorance of -- and contempt for -- how the law works.

    Posted by: Charles | May 16, 2008 8:15:08 AM

  4. The ruling is long overdue…
    My gay American husband and I (from Germany) are a legal gay couple since 7 years, recognized by Germany.

    What does this ruling mean for America? Some states adopt the ruling in the future, some don’t? When the presidential candidates say they leave it to the states – does that mean: in some states I am (considered) married in others I am NOT?

    Gays and lesbians need to hammer on their rights – with both parties. No more lukewarm reactions. This is the 21 century. More concrete answers for the year 2009 are needed from the candidates and parties.

    Does this show in general how unprepared America is now and for the future? Healthcare crisis, outdated infrastructure, unaffordable education system, scams on Wall Street, record foreclosures and bankruptcies, skyrocketing taxes, unilateral views on foreign policies and stand in the world… and backward (Republican) oriented society?

    Posted by: Martin | May 16, 2008 9:04:58 AM

  5. In this case, both Obama and Clinton disgust me. That a product of miscegenation can throw gay people's marriage rights to a majority vote shows to me a serious, scary mental flaw.

    Posted by: Gordo | May 16, 2008 9:47:01 AM

  6. Despite the colloquial term "Homo-Ehe" (Homo marriage), Germany DOES NOT recognize gay marriage, only "registered unions" that provide most, but not all of the benefits of a state-recognized marriage. BTW: You don't even have to be gay / sexually involved to enter a union under the "life partnership act". So before dissing the US, you should get your facts "straight".

    So California now goes far beyond what Germany offers.

    As to the matter itself, I, as a libertarian, have to more or less agree with Sullivan: The state should provide the same legal benefits to childless couples, regardless of whether they're gay or straight and should be free to reserve additional benefits to families raising children. As far as the religious concept of marriage is concerned, the state should stay out of it.

    Posted by: a different martin | May 16, 2008 9:47:11 AM

  7. In this case, both Obama and Clinton disgust me. That a product of miscegenation can throw gay people's marriage rights to a majority vote shows to me a serious, scary mental flaw.

    Posted by: Gordo | May 16, 2008 9:49:02 AM

  8. I am an Obama supporter but seeing that he, for a mixed race man, does not 100% support marriage equality is disheartening, to say the least.

    Pelosi for President!

    Posted by: jeff | May 16, 2008 10:23:54 AM

  9. It sounds like both Obama and Clinton had the same exact pr people write up their responses.


    I have to agree = Pelosi rocks (not on impeachment though)

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | May 16, 2008 10:45:30 AM

  10. I believe in equal rights for black people. As long as they use their own lunch counters, and not those nice white people lunch counters. I believe that black people have full equal rights to ride the bus.... but they should sit at the back. I believe it should be up to individual states whether women have the right to vote.

    Posted by: Strepsi | May 16, 2008 11:20:01 AM

  11. Because waffling on this issue helped John Kerry so much. The problem with the Democrats is they want everyone to love them.

    But it always blows up in their face because it makes them look like Barney the Dinosaur.

    What Obama and Hillary fail to understand is that Americans aren't necessarily looking for someone who agrees with them on every issue. They're simply attracted to strength and winning. If it seems like your side is in control of the situation, they'll follow you regardless of what you policies are.

    George W. Bush himself is the perfect example of that. Illusion over substance.

    Posted by: John | May 16, 2008 11:39:09 AM

  12. Only Pelosi comes out clean in her remarks. Clinton and Obama, predictably, toe the cowardly CU line. And McCain evasively and inarticulately panders to his right wing base, supporting the amendment without quite saying so directly, which I hope the McCain supporters who occasionally pop in here insisting McCain is no worse than the Dem's will note. He is worse, in his own jumbled words.

    Posted by: Ernie | May 16, 2008 11:45:05 AM

  13. Barr authored DOMA (in part--he doesn't deserve full "credit") to help Bob Dole's ailing campaign and because he was still a closeted Libertarian. Did he expect the triangulating Clinton wouldn't sign?? It's also unclear how DOMA in relation to the Full Faith and Credit clause is at all Libertarian, particularly since in this case it regulates a private act and Federalizes an issue, two things that seem more authoritarian in nature.

    Posted by: anon | May 16, 2008 12:25:15 PM

  14. Obama - “… and he will continue to fight for civil unions… and continues to believe that states should make their own decisions when it comes to the issue of marriage.” In other words, he’s a pigheaded opponent of same sex marriage and a supporter of states rights in the tradition of George Wallace and for the same reasons. Obama publicly panders to the cults.

    Clinton - “… Hillary Clinton believes that … that civil unions are the best way to achieve this goal.” She has said and continues to believe that the issue of marriage should be left to the states.” Another pigheaded opponent of same sex marriage and supporter of George Wallace style states rights. Clinton publically panders to the cults.

    McCain – “John McCain… recognize marriage as a unique institution sanctioning the union between a man and a woman…” Another pigheaded opponent of same sex marriage who panders to the cults.

    Their positions are virtually identical and are in conflict with our fundamental liberties and civil rights. All three candidates oppose same sex marriage to compete for the support of the abrahamic cults: jesus inc., the yahweh corporation, mormon enterprises and allah ltd.

    A Republican is a baboon in a people suit with a totalitarian theocrat attached at the hip. A Democrat (sic) is a Republican in drag. A vote for either isn’t just a wasted vote – it’s a vote FOR bigotry, war, and the continued assault on our standard of living.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue, RainbowRED | May 16, 2008 2:17:32 PM

  15. MARTIN, with all due respect, the legal recognition of gay couples in Germany is one of the weakest in Europe. Unless you got married in another country, your American husband isn't legally your husband, and regardless he isn't legally your husband in Germany. Germany does not have marriage equality. They don't even have Civil Unions. Heck, they don't even really have Domestic Partnerships. They basically have registered partnerships that have a FEW of the rights of marriage. Gay couples in Germany have very few federal rights. They have NONE of the taxation privileges of straight couples and they denied gay registered partners the right to each others pensions after a partner's death until just this year when a man had to sue all the way to the EUROPEAN COURT OF APPEALS to FORCE Deuschland to grant him his dead partner's pension. The German government fought it all the way.

    I know that the US is lagging way behind Europe and we have a long way to go but please don't try to give us the impression that Germany's partnership laws for gay couples is anything close to marriage equality. Besides Italy (with the Vatican in its backyard) Germany is one of the least advanced countries in western Europe on this issue. Even the heavily Catholic Republic of Ireland will surpass Germany with Civil Partnerships later this year.

    Posted by: Zeke | May 16, 2008 3:25:49 PM

  16. To Zeke and A Different Martin:

    My gay “husband” is entitled to state pension if I paid into the state pension system. If I was member of a private pension system where marriage traditionally was defined as man/woman bullshit there will be problems until the European Court of Justice rules.
    He can stay in Germany with no limits, he can work with no special permits. His college degree is accepted and he can work in his profession with no further qualification required.
    He can have state health insurance if I am a member.
    I am by law considered married/taken because I had to sign a paper with the German authorities that we started a civil union. If I wanted to get married another time it would show immediately on the records that I am taken and I could not marry until the civil union gets dissolved.
    I would even have to provide for him financially after a "divorce".
    The conservative German chancellor added recently that civil unions deserve the protection that families get.

    The disharmony among European states, what is what in France, in England, in Switzerland, in Germany… this is the risk America is heading to if each state decides his own thing.

    Bi-national couples have NO rights in the USA… as a reminder. So even with the California ruling it does not make our life in the USA easier/legal as long as civil unions get the rights on a federal level. Right???

    Posted by: Martin | May 16, 2008 4:48:26 PM

  17. Martin, I keep saying this over and over again to people in America and to people in or from other countries.

    It does us a HUGE disservice to overstate the relationship recognition, the legal status and the rights and benefits conveyed by a municipality, state, province or country.

    Germany does in fact give you ALL of the responsibilities but it does NOT give you anywhere near all the rights of marriage.

    You are most certainly NOT by law considered "married" and your saying it doesn't make it so. Big deal if it means you can't REALLY marry a woman while your "registered" to your partner (who legally is nothing more than your legal roommate). You can call what you have a "civil union" all you want but it is NOT a civil union; it is a "registered partnership. There is a difference between the two and the difference is significant and important.

    It may sound like I'm being an ass parsing words but it does us no good to convince ourselves and others that we have achieved something we haven't. That only causes people to become satisfied in the mistaken believe that they have achieved equality and that there is nothing left to fight for.

    I will repeat what I said above. Germany and most of the rest of Europe are LIGHT YEARS ahead of the US on gay rights and gay partnership recognition. I would never argue that. I SALUTE THAT! I ENVY THAT! However, that doesn't mean that I will not challenge people when they come here and give the impression that gays in Germany or other countries that have "marriage lite" (and in the case of Germany, marriage quite lite) have equality with married straight couples.

    Holland, Spain and Belgium are the only countries in Europe that have TRUE legal relationship equality. It looks as if Sweden and perhaps Norway might join them later this year.

    I won't get into the details of why I am so well versed in German law and life but rest assured that I have MANY lifelong connections, besides living there for years, that are ongoing and keep me in touch with my adopted country which I love dearly. Just like America, I only challenge the countries I love.

    Posted by: Zeke | May 16, 2008 8:00:38 PM

  18. I think Domestic Partnership and Civil Union laws are very important. And taken as a whole, their effect on same-sex couples has been positive. The Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Canada, and now California all had some sort of alternative same-sex union scheme before they enacted gender neural marriage.

    These schemes serve as an indication that societal attitudes are in the process of changing. They also signify that a legislature is willing to re-consider the meaning of family to encompass a broader range of persons. This reconsideration might not lead to the sort of immediate progress activists expect, but they're a substantive shift from the historical approach to homosexuals (i.e. punish them or kill them).

    Apparently, the Chief Justice of California agrees. Had the California Legislature not enacted domestic partnerships, Chief Justice George suggests that the outcome of this case might've been very different:

    (PAGE 47, Majority Opinion)

    "If a comprehensive domestic partnership law had not been enacted in California, and if plaintiffs had brought a constitutional challenge to the California marriage statutes and our court had concluded that those statutes were unconstitutional because they did not afford same-sex couples rights and benefits equal to those available to opposite-sex couples under the marriage statutes, we might well have further concluded — as other state courts have determined in similar situations — that the appropriate disposition would be to direct the Legislature to provide equal treatment to same-sex couples, leaving to the Legislature, in the first instance, the decision whether to provide such treatment by a revision of the marriage statutes or by the enactment of a comprehensive domestic partnership or civil union law. "

    We need to recognize and affirm the constructive role that Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions play in the process of family law reform. They're not the final word on the issue. But they're an important stepping stone.

    Posted by: John | May 16, 2008 8:31:36 PM

  19. I don't think you should be reading Pelosi's statements as that positive. She is very specific that the California constitution should allow for same-sex marriage - she never once endorses national same-sex marriage. It's great that California and a few other states have done this, but having to fight for civil rights on a state-by-state basis is ridiculous. Had that been the case with racial discrimination, there would still be separate-but-equal institutions throughout the south. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, etc. would never have supports equal rights for African Americans on a popular vote.

    Posted by: Hamp | May 16, 2008 9:24:11 PM

  20. Clinton and Obama are both cowards. I bet that deep inside they recognize this for the non-issue that it ought to be: i.e., gays should be allowed to marry, get over it already! But they're too chicken to say it out loud.

    Posted by: Christopher | May 17, 2008 6:05:06 PM

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