Know Your Rights

On August 4, 2010 Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco declared that California’s Proposition 8, called by some the “Protect Marriage Act,” was unconstitutional. Prop 8 was approved by California voters in 2008 and it made same-sex marriage illegal in the state of California.

You can read the entire ruling here, and it’s absolutely fascinating reading. What I find most mind-boggling is the case the defense put up in support of Proposition 8. One of their witnesses, David Blankenhorn, is the founder of The Institute for American Values, a “think tank” committed to “contributing intellectually to the renewal of marriage and family life and the sources of competence, character, and citizenship in the United States.” Mr. Blankenhorn testified to his opinion that marriage is “a socially-approved sexual relationship between a man and a woman” with a primary purpose to “regulate filiation.”  If you’re like me, you read that and said “huh?” Well, filiation is “the condition or fact of being the child of a certain parent.” Oh. So what Blankenhorn basically testified to is that marriage is about being parents. The Judge spent many pages of his ruling reviewing Mr. Blankenhorn’s credentials, his education, the books he’s written and the cases he cited for evidence. Ultimately, the judge gave him the credibility he deserves by saying in part:

“Blankenhorn lacks the qualifications to offer opinion testimony and, in any event, failed to provide cogent testimony in support of proponents’ factual assertions.”

Ouch. The Judge also went on to say about Mr. Blankenhorn:

“The court now determines that Blankenhorn’s testimony constitutes inadmissible opinion testimony that should be given essentially no weight.”

Another of the defense witnesses in this case, Mr. Hak-Shing William Tam, is the Secretary of the America Return to God Prayer Movement. Mr. Tam’s shockingly ridiculous testimony includes these tidbits:

  • homosexuals are twelve times more likely to molest children;

and that gay marriage will

  • cause states one-by-one to fall into Satan’s hands.

When the Judge asked Mr. Tam for his sources, he provided the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, whose  position is that  their “clients have the right to claim a gay identity, or to diminish their homosexuality and to develop their heterosexual potential. The right to seek therapy to change one’s sexual adaptation should be considered self-evident and inalienable.” When the judge asked why Mr. Tam used this particular source Mr. Tam stated because “he believes what they say.” With regards to his source for connecting same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest, Mr. Tam says his source was “the internet.” Yes folks, the internet told him.

There was lots of testimony in this case and the Judge went to great lengths to lay out the legal rationale for his ruling. It addresses every point you can think of regarding marriage, parenting, discrimination and sexuality. But most importantly to me, and hopefully to you Faithful Reader, is this:

“Fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

The Constitution of the United States give us our rights as Americans, and the 14th Amendment rings loud and clear:

“…No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The Constitution gives us the right of life, liberty and property and says no state can take it from us without due process of law. It also tells us no state can deny to any person equal protection! This is incredibly powerful stuff, designed to protect us as individual humans from a government that would seek to restrict our freedom. Such a thing can and should never be taken lightly. Our freedom is everything; it is what men and women have fought and died for since our country was founded. Yet the proponents of Proposition 8 sought to take those freedoms away from a certain group of people based on opinions, innuendo, fear and prejudice. The proponents of Prop 8 spent millions of dollars in their campaign to get California voters to willingly give up their freedoms and the fact that they succeeded in getting 52% of the state’s residents to agree to it is a sad commentary on our society.

In conclusion, the judge ruled on the side of freedom. Individual freedom, without prejudice, without discrimination and if you’re a romantic at heart, you could argue he ruled in favor of love.


Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in
singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.
Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than
enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex
couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California
has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and
because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its
constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis,
the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.


I’ve added this link where Ted Olson, one of the attorneys who successfully argued the case, explains clearly and concisely why the ruling was the correct one. It is a quick, but thorough, legal education.

In case you haven’t read them in a while my friends, here are Our Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.



  1. Great post. Thank you 🙂

  2. Legal analysts weigh in on Judge Walker’s ruling saying it’s based on solid factual legal footing

  3. vmichael · ·

    great post.

  4. Awesome post

  5. Joe, what a good example you are by keeping your cool with people who think their way is the only way, their beliefs are the only beliefs, and the rest of us are evil and will burn in hell. I find it so entertaining when said people think that the entire country should  adhere to their doctrine and religious views. Remember, this country was built on the idea of NOT being persecuted for our differences. 
    I think Ghandi said it best,  “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” 

    1. Thanks Aiken Gal, I appreciate that. Religion does a great job of deluding us and dividing us, but it does very little to enlighten us or bring us together as humans. I understand that and while I have tried, and probably will continue to try in one way or another, to help people see that, ultimately I will likely fail and need to practice acceptance instead.

    2. Andy,
      It’s nice that we live in a country where you’re allowed freedom of religion. However, God / Jesus did not write the Constitution. You are free to believe in whatever you want, but this is a matter of government and not religion. The job that judges are given is to interpret the law. There are many religions in this country and I believe the judge did a good job in interpreting the law without the influence of anyone’s religion.

      It’s clear that many people in this country do not hold the same beliefs that you do. You can quote the Bible to them all you want, but it really has no meaning to someone who does not follow Christianity.

    3. wearelittlespinozas · ·

      Dear andybrown (Yes, I will use your actual name even though you did not give me the same respect),

      Point #1: Where were my unkind words? Please, point out some underminding, demeaning, loveless, rhetoric I have written to you and we can continue on this subject.

      Point #2: Why are you so hostile? You and Iknow God is the judge, not Andybrown, so he will take care of it anyway. This means you have no right to be so pushy and angry / foaming at the mouth. Homosexuals, on the other hand, have been discriminated against, spit on, hated, sanctioned, sectioned, set apart, cut apart, stared at, ridiculed, and rejected by humanity since the DAY they were born. They have something to defend. What are you defending? Getting into heaven? If all the gays suddenly turned straight, would you stop calling them “pro-sodomy pushers” and “irreverant godless people” and be overjoyed at the fact they are going to heaven?

      Last point: That is so hateful that I hope God forgives YOU, my dear friend.

    4. wearelittlespinozas · ·

      Oops, Andy, I forgot a point.

      Point #4: Would Jesus like to see the way you are speaking and acting towards people here? You do nothing to try to offer his message or try to save anybody, as you are supposed to, but section off huge numbers of the human population, call them names, and tell them they will be burned. And that’s it. How is that productive? Jesus did not turn away the harlot, the cheater, the liar, the stealer, the pimp, the prostitute, the unfaithful, the murderer or even the rapist. He loved them, forgave them, and let them weep on his feet.

      John 14:12 – “Truly, I tell all of you with certainty, the one who believes in me will also do what I am doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

      How do you defend acting so tasteless in the name of Jesus Christ?

  6. Thatothermike: homophobia notwithstanding.

    That is inflammatory. You need to practice this tolerance that you are preaching.

  7. andydbrown · ·

    Of course Joe doesn’t post the comments answering his demand for proof. That’s what men like Joe do to push his ideas. Posts those comments he can answer and denies those he can’t.
    You are quite the character, Joe.
    Over and out!

    1. Andy, if you read my comments policy you will understand and see I gave you plenty of latitude with your comments.

      I am quite a character, thanks.

  8. wearelittlespinozas · ·

    Thank you for enlightening me a bit more about who you are; a spiritual person rather than a strictly religious. I fit well on that scale, too.

    We can play ‘which Holy Book is most violent’ all life-long, but it would go back and forth with no substantial outcome. All you have to do is google “violence in the Torah” or “violence in the Quran” for those arguments. For the record, it is obvious that Judaism is not all purity&peace based on the Israel / Palestine conflict: some of your people are murdering and denying others basic human rights in this day and age – not that it’s representative of the whole Jewish population; but if you play the Queen of spades, you must notice there is a Queen of clubs in the deck as well).

    However, I did not intend to play Religion vs. Religion with my enquiry to you: I simply asked you a question based on WHY you believe the Torah is based on fact.

    The Torah is no more valid than the Quran with the points you made. A single word was not changed from the Quran since its inception in the mother tongue of the day: Arabic. Scholars agree that any translation has already lost substantial meaning from the original and therefore the Arabic script normally runs parallel with the English text, for instance. You know as well as I that the Torah and the Quran are translated into many languages so people can get a ‘hint’ of God’s message; yet they lack the character of their originals.

    So you are a spiritual Jew, but a Jew nonetheless: how do you call Islam a religion and Judaism not, then?

  9. wearelittlespinozas · ·

    Dear Joe,
    You have a very interesting perspective. Whichever path leads you to peace, I encourage you (or anyone) to take that path. I have not delved headfirst in Taoism but I had taken a course at university — “Eastern Religions” and learned a bit about the core essentials. I almost think that the Tao is some sort of energy that could be translated as “God” for some people, but is not necessary to think so.

    For example, the only problem I have with Buddhism is that it does not leave room for “God” as it is stated that there is no God. BUT, God could also be synonymous with the feeling of Nirvana when deep in meditation, a Oneness with the world, so why the separation? The Quran has 99 unique names for God, including ‘The Merciful’, ‘The Opener’, and ‘The Preserver’. Why not whatever feels right?

    There are many names for the same feeling, and I just happen to call it one thing and others call it something else. However, it is YOUR right to call it the Tao or Chi or whatever name you can most closely relate with, without me having to call it wrong, or disagree completely.

    You have chosen a beautiful path and I hope it takes you far, my friend.

  10. After much consultation I have closed the comments on this post and deleted many of the comments that were way off the subject matter and violated my comments policy in that they were attacking, in some cases quite hatefully, either me or the other folks who were kind enough to comment. I deleted many of my own comments in response to these attacks.

    This is the first time I’ve ever encountered this situation, i.e. a post where comments quite frankly got out of control and became nothing but personal attacks about things completely unrelated to the post. For those who read these comments and were disturbed by them, I apologize. For those whose comments were deleted, I wish you no ill will. This was just not the forum for what you were communicating.


  11. […] are applied. The citizens of California had voted to make same-sex marriage illegal in the state. The law was overturned and the judge in the District Court case stated as part of his ruling that fundamental rights of […]

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