Tyranny of the majority - Page 2

Supreme Court makes the Prop. 8 debate about equal protection and separation of powers

And no matter what your view of same-sex marriage is, it's important to understand that the passage of Proposition 8 has pushed California to the brink of a constitutional crisis."

He then explained why.

"This measure sought to do something that no other constitutional amendment has ever done here in the state of California, and that is to strip a fundamental right from a protected class of citizens and in doing so, it did not merely undo a narrowly disfavored Supreme Court ruling. Its legal effect is nowhere [near that] simple or elegant. Rather, it upended a separation of powers doctrine deeply rooted in our system of governance. It trounced upon the independence of the state's judicial branch and it eviscerated the most fundamental principle of our state's constitution. And if allowed to stand, Proposition 8 so devastates the principle of equal protection that it would endanger fundamental rights of any potential electoral minority, even for protected classes based on gender, race, or religion. And it would mean a bare majority of voters could enshrine any manner of discrimination against any unpopular group, and our state constitution would be powerless to disallow it," Herrera said.

That's why he said 12 cities and counties have joined this suit — including Los Angeles and Alameda counties, which were not part of the original same-sex marriage case — along with supporting roles being played by the NAACP, the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, the Asia Pacific American Legal Center, and California Council of Churches.

There is some irony to the Council of Churches' involvement given that religious groups, particularly the Catholics and Mormons, provided the backbone of financial and volunteer support for the Yes on 8 campaign. Yet the council argues that Prop. 8 is an attack on religious freedom.

"It is kind of ironic, and I don't they they're paying attention to the big picture, to be honest with you," Eric Isaacson, attorney for the Council of Churches, told the Guardian. "But history tells us that religious groups are often the victims of such persecution."

He cited laws that have taken rights from Jews in many countries and instances of majorities in the United States going after Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons, a group driven from state to state by discriminatory mobs until they finally settled in Utah to enjoy religious freedom.

Beyond the historical and precedent-setting nature of the case, the council's executive director Rick Schlosser told the Guardian that Prop. 8 discriminates against Episcopal, Unitarian, and other churches that believe all people have the right to marry.

"We work on a lot of religious freedom issues and there's a huge number of churches that support the right of people to marry," Schlosser said.