Moving forward from Prop 8

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, the ban on gay marriage, while recognizing the validity of the marriages performed prior to its passage, from June through Election Day 2008. This is basically what most people expected, so I’m not too surprised, but a half-victory is still disappointing. The decision as well as a news release summarizing the opinions are available on the court website (PDF).

The court saw Prop 8 as merely withholding the designation of marriage from same-sex couples and leaving the substantive rights intact in the form of domestic partnership, and the majority felt that doing so neither threatens equal protection nor rises to the level of a constitutional revision, which requires a higher threshold to enact than an amendment.

Prop 8 decision protest

Only Justice Carlos R. Moreno, the lone dissenter, seems to get what our side has been saying all along:

In my view, the aim of Proposition 8 and all similar initiative measures that seek to alter the California Constitution to deny a fundamental right to a group that has historically been subject to discrimination on the basis of a suspect classification, violates the essence of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and fundamentally alters its scope and meaning. Such a change cannot be accomplished through the initiative process by a simple amendment to our Constitution enacted by a bare majority of the voters; it must be accomplished, if at all, by a constitutional revision to modify the equal protection clause to protect some, rather than all, similarly situated persons.

So what are the silver linings? First, that the approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages performed last year are recognized. Second, that a movement is afoot to educate and persuade the public, and bring marriage equality back to the ballot. The tide has turned; time and momentum are on our side. And third, that domestic partnership, while not at risk during this case, still exists. Yes, it is a “separate but equal” institution — it’s impossible to imbue the status of domestic partnership with the aura of marriage — but it’s an important part of California family law.

Just partnered

Thom and I became registered domestic partners on February 13, 2009, and have been planning a wedding ceremony for this September, which from the outset we said we would have regardless of the Prop 8 decision. Prop 8 does not diminish the personal meaning of our relationship. Regardless of what the state recognizes, we will do what countless other couples, gay and straight, have done: stand before our community of family and friends, and pledge our life and love to each other.

Valentine’s Day weekend

If you followed my Twitter or Facebook status a couple weeks ago, you know this news: Thom and I are engaged. We’ve talked about this amongst ourselves for a while, so it was kind of planned — no one surprised anyone with a ring in the champagne or got down on one knee — but still special and romantic. We plan to have a wedding in the Bay Area sometime this fall. Although we are already registered domestic partners, there is nothing like a ceremony with our friends and family present. We’ll have it regardless of the outcome of the Prop 8 court challenge, and if the ban is overturned, which we hope will be the case, then we’ll get legally married!

Our Valentine’s Day weekend was spent on a little road trip down the Central Coast. On Saturday we went to Hearst Castle in San Simeon, about a four-hour drive from here in Daly City. That night we had dinner in Carmel at Citronelle, where we popped the question. (We said yes!) We stayed the night at the Hyatt Regency Monterey and the next day visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was a lovely getaway (though the drive back on Sunday was stormy and harrowing).

My photos from Hearst Castle are up on Flickr, and soon I’ll add the aquarium photos to the set.

Hearst Castle - Neptune Pool

And so the wedding planning begins!

Honest men, continued

While the memory is still fresh in my mind, I just wanted to flashback to several days ago, when Thom and I registered our domestic partnership.

Although domestic partnerships in California can be filed through the mail, we wanted to make it as special an occasion as possible, so we filed in person at the San Francisco regional office of the California secretary of state. It’s a nondescript office on the fourteenth floor of the state building, and it seemed everyone else there was taking care of more business-related tasks: certifying documents, registering a corporation, etc.

Our number was called, and the person at the window was so gracious and almost happy to see us when we told her we wanted to become domestic partners. (I later asked her name: Elsa.) After taking our fee and forms, she got up and said, “I’ll go enter your information. I’ll be back, and between now and then…”

I thought she was going to say, “You’ll officially be partners.” But she said, “You’ll have one more chance to decide if you want to do this, before I transmit your information to Sacramento.”

Thom wondered if people really back out at this point, and she said, “You’d be surprised.” Ha.

She came back. “Well?”

I don’t remember exactly what we said, but we were sure. We were ready.

She left again and returned several minutes later, this time coming out into the lobby where we were sitting. She put her hands on our shoulders, congratulated us, and gave us a letter and our certificate of domestic partnership. This was really happening. I was so happy.

Thom and I left the office, and hugged and kissed in the hallway. We took a photo of ourselves with our certificate and then left the building.

It was Friday, the 13th. And it had started to rain. Still, we’ve always said we’re both pretty lucky.

Honest men

Big news: Thom and I got hitched! Basically. We registered as domestic partners, which means we now have most of the same rights as spouses in the state of California. We’ve been meaning to do this for a long while and finally decided to do it today, as close to Valentine’s Day as possible, which actually meant Friday the 13th. (Obviously we’re not superstitious.)

We went to the San Francisco office of the California Secretary of State to register in person, and here we are, all newly domestic-partnered:

Just partnered

Afterward we had a Coraline evening: we went to the Cartoon Art Museum to see an exhibit of Coraline art, and then to the Metreon to see Coraline in 3D. I loved it.

Our Valentine’s Day weekend continues with a little road trip. Tomorrow we drive down to San Simeon to visit Hearst Castle, then up the coast a bit from there to have dinner in Carmel. We’ll overnight in Monterey, then on Sunday visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Love is in the air!

[See also: “Honest men, continued.”]