We lost Prop. 8 in 1978


We lost the Proposition 8 decision due to California property taxes and what has led to the state’s current financial problems. The seeds for the defeat of Prop. 8 were sown in 1978, during the California tax revolt. Californians felt that they were paying way too much in property taxes so, in accordance with state law, they went out and gathered the required signatures to put what became Proposition 13 on the ballot in 1978.

Prop. 13 passed. With it was language that stated that future taxes could not be raised unless the legislature voted for them by a two-thirds majority. Here’s where we come in. The state, knowing that getting two-thirds of the legislature to vote for new taxes would be almost impossible, took Prop. 13 all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Prop. 13 folks won a major victory based on the California constitution, which gives all rights of laws to its citizens through the ballot, those aforementioned propositions.

So, with the Prop. 8 ruling, the state Supreme Court is only upholding what the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled on. Thus, not only do Californians not have marriage, they also have lower taxes, which has left them almost bankrupt.

That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news.

While the tax issue has not gotten any more popular in California, gay marriage/marriage equality has. The publicity surrounding Prop. 8 has caused many a skeptic to look deeply at the issue, including many in our own community.

And, like other topics, when you look deeply at an issue, you change the way you think about it. In this case, that’s to our adversaries’ disadvantage: You note that their objections are all false and that marriage equality changes nothing in their lives or the religions they follow. There is no better proof for that than the Mormon church, which was one of the most outspoken supporters of Prop. 8. The church and the ensuing controversy of their involvement has begun to shift on the issue. Mormons who supported marriage equality before Prop. 8 worried about excommunication. Now the church says there is room for members of the faith who believe in marriage equality but understand that the church does not. Now that’s not a seismic move, but it is movement. So if the Mormons have changed, what about less-religious-minded people?

There is little doubt with another proposition we will be victorious — as long as we do not take any community support for granted. And with that comes some bragging rights: If California accomplishes this, it will be the first state that gains marriage equality through the ballot. And it would take a powerful tool away from the right-wingers.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at [email protected] .