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What Gay Marriage Ruling Means for Gov’s Race

May27

Further, We Look at Sotomayor and The GOP React

Attorney General Jerry Brown summed up most succinctly the impact of the California Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage in California.jerry_brown

“The courts have basically put the ball in the political arena and that’s where it’s going to be decided,” said the AG, whose office had fecklessly argued the case against the voter-approved constitutional amendment before the Supremes.

Swift reaction to the decision, both from the pro-gay marriage forces and from the potential candidates for governor, underscored Brown’s point: the contentious issue –- which pretty much splits California voters down the middle — will be an indelible part of the 2010 election season.

Supporters of gay marriage already announced plans for a 2010 initiative to reinstate the constitutional right of same sex couples to wed (although cooler political heads suggest that 2012 would be strategically smarter). Click Click

With Democrats mostly favoring same sex marriage and Republicans generally opposed, a ballot fight amid the governor’s race would energize activists on both sides, boosting turn-out and locking contenders into positions guaranteed to alienate half the electorate.

Although not a surprise, Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision sprang open the gate on Prop. 8 as a major issue shaping the governor’s race as a red state-blue state contest inside California.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom immediately declared “it’s our job to make sure history moves faster towards equality here in California,” taking to the mighty Huffington Post to blog a call to arms for a gay initiative.

While Prince Gavin clearly views himself as a man of history, for triggering the gay marriage debate by authorizing same sex weddings in San Francisco in 2004, he didn’t mention how he personally galvanized the Yes-on-8 campaign with his smug and smart-ass “whether you like it or not” comment when gay marriage was briefly legal last spring.

Brown, running hard against Newsom to capture the gay marriage primary, also promised to support a measure to ensure that same sex couples have the right to wed.

Ever the consummate political creature, he said he isn’t sure whether the strongest play would be in 2010 or 2012, when presidential year turnout for Obama’s re-election might better boost chances of passage.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pronounced himself “confident that this state will have a change of heart, will reiterate its broader commitment to justice for every citizen, and will overturn this unjust ban at the ballot box.”

Stirring rhetoric, Tony V, but are you talking as a mayor or a candidate for governor?

On the Republican side, pro-gay rights law school Prof Tom Campbell said he personally believes “gay Californians should have the same rights as straight Californians, including the right to marry.” But, he quickly added, acknowledging the obvious, “The people of California have the right to amend their own Constitution. Whether or not we agree with the policy behind any particular provision, there should be no doubt that ultimate sovereignty rests with the people.”

Talk about your profiles in courage.

Insurance commissioner Steve Poizner – who took NO public position on Proposition 8 that Calbuzz could find before last November’s vote (this SacBee piece seems to confirm that) – suddenly found the cojones to oppose gay marriage.

“The California Supreme Court took the appropriate action today in upholding the will of the people by affirming Proposition 8. The people of California have spoken. They voted decisively that marriage should remain between a man and a woman,” Poizner declared. “That is also my personal view.”

Who knew?

Surely not former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who opposed gay marriage by supporting Proposition 8 and who suggested – inexplicably — that Tuesday’s decision ranked right up there with Brown vs. Board of Education or Marbury vs. Madison.

“I believe the California State Supreme Court made the right decision. Last November, the people of California passed Proposition 8, and today the Court upheld their decision,” she said. “This simple yet powerful fact is the foundation of our democracy. Regardless of one’s position on the measure, this ruling gives people confidence that their vote matters and can make a difference.”

Mush, eMeg, mush!

Obama’s Pick for Supreme Court Confronts Reeps With a Problem

As if the state needs more political polarization, President Obama’s nomination of a Latina judge to the U.S. Supreme Court reminds us that Californians know the political impacts when Republicans, rightly or wrongly, are perceived as lining up against the interests of Latinos.

Former Gov. Pete Wilson may only have been opposed to illegal immigration in 1994. But with his ominous and iconic “They Keep Coming” ad, which showed Mexicans sneaking across the border, added to his aggressive push to restrict the rights of immigrants in Proposition 187, he became known on the streets of Mexico City and East LA alike as “hijo de puta.”

To say that the GOP ever since has been poisoned in California is gross understatement: The question now is whether Republicans – by vocally opposing Judge Sonia Sotomayor – want to do for themselves in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Florida, what Wilson et. al. did for their party in California?

Initial responses appear to answer in the affirmative. Here’s the text of an ad produced by the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, referring to an affirmative action case out of New Haven:

“Sonia Sotomayor, who didn’t give a fair shake in court to firefighters deprived promotions on account of race. Every American understands the sacrifices firefighters make. But on Sotomayor’s court, the content of your character is not as important as the color of your skin.”

This approach, according to some current and former Republican strategists, is totallyfriggininsane.

Republican strategists say the GOP needs 35-40% of Latino voters to be competitive nationally. And here’s what Sotomayor looks like to many of those voters, for whom her biography is a source of pride.

Child of parents born in Puerto Rico… Grew up speaking mostly Spanish… Raised in a public housing project in the South Bronx in the shadow of Yankee Stadium… Father died when she was 9… Graduated summa cum laude in 1976 from Princeton after winning a scholarship to the school… Earned her law degree from Yale in 1979, where she edited the Law Review… New York District Attorney’s office in the early 1980s…Currently serves on the Second Circuit in New York and was appointed to that position by Bill Clinton. BUT she was appointed to her first federal court appointment by President George H.W. Bush (link to NBC’s First Read)

Calbuzz asked USC’s Dan Schnur, one of the smartest guys in the room – and a former Pete Wilson communications director – how the Republicans can oppose Sotomayor without further alienating Hispanics and falling into the Prop. 187 trap:

“They can’t,” said Schnur, now director of the Jesse M, Unruh Institute of Politics. “There’s no way to oppose Sotomayor on the merits without it being portrayed to Hispanic-American voters that it’s a matter of race,” he said.

Matt Dowd, another very smart Republican with experience in California (having helped elect Gov. Arnold) told the New York Times the Republicans can’t even be seen as threatening Judge Sotomayor.

“Because you’ll have a bunch of white males who lead the Judiciary Committee leading the charge, taking on a Hispanic women and everybody from this day forward is going to know she’s totally qualified,” he said. “It’s a bad visual. It’s bad symbolism for the Republicans.”


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There are 15 comments for this post

  1. avatar DAVID says:

    Here are some "outta here forecasts" in the CA political arena which make no sense now — but give them maybe six months, then let's revisit the evolving dynamics in play at that time. One s well as an atypical but curious series of miscues, wrong moves as well as just plain demonstrated & repeated incompetence coming out of The White House Chief of Staff's Office — there is Chicago-style horse-trading and IOU placements which are anathema to all voters at large; when those inner dealings are made soon public, there shall be a raising cry for Obama impeachment [for multiple breaches of the public trust --- the GOP shall not go untainted either]! Two is the 'ignore at your own risk' steady increase nationally of — not a third party — but non-partisan voter registration, fed up [well above 'the keister' (sp?) line] with both major political parties' shenanigans; both parties will continue to ignore this trend while those non-partisans will advocate for and then finally obtain 'open primaries' to the shock, chagrin and dumb-foundment of both currently majority parties. At that point – and that time is not far off – memberships of Democrats and Republicans will have lost control of the political process they continue to manipulate unsuccessfully. And third, the shift in the pandering dynamic is in the offing and that is causing both parties to have abundant quantities of nightmares — because neither knows to which well they should go to make promises (bribes which are always ignored in office, after any elections), not what bag of goodies can be offered for some key cross- over voters: The answer in the latter case is simply that the voters can no longer be bribed for any price. I know it sounds weird or even unthinkable at this juncture, but both parties – on their current trajectories – are headed for the same ignominious end as the once and former British Liberal Party: A footnote in our history. There has been nothing like this in recent American political history and what we are now witnessing is "only the opening chapter"! Mark these words and let's promise to meet again here six months hence to take stock, shall we? And, yes – if I'm wrong – I AM PREPARED TO "EAT ABUNDANT SERVINGS OF CROW, IF NECESSARY" at that time, friends!

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    Since she replaces Souter just ask questions at the confirmation hearing and don’t oppose.

  3. avatar Desert Observer says:

    I think today’s post should have been two separate blogs. The blog title implies it’s all about the Prop 8 ruling for there’s no clue that the bottom portion is a discussion of the Supreme Court appointment. Of course, I’m a fan of not combining different topics into a single blog and prefer to see each posted under a meaningful heading.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    I hear that she is a nitemare to work with. I think she is a racist and is worst then Souter. If the Republicans don’t stand up for what is right then what purpose do they serve?

  5. avatar Roberts and Trounstine says:

    Dear Desert Observer,
    At least half of us think you’re right.

  6. avatar MaryWesty says:

    Prop 8 is an embarrassment to California. No one has ever expressed a reason that gay marriages hurt anyone else.

    That being said, what was the voter turnout in the election in which Prop 8 passed? Is there a possibility it didn’t pass because people didn’t vote, but this time they’d turn out?

  7. avatar Roberts and Trounstine says:

    Prop. 8 passed in the Nov. 2008 election. Voter turnout among those registered was 79.42, the highest turnout since 1976; the turnout figure for all those eligible was 59.22, the highest since 1972. The presidential contest drew a total of 13,561,900 votes; total number of votes cast on Prop. 8, yes and no, was 13,402,566, a drop off from the top of the ticket of 1.1 percent.

  8. avatar DAVID says:

    MARY – Let me draw you a picture. The majority of voters who cast "Aye" ballots for Prop 8 believe there is a right and there is a wrong — but our academic, educated caste views only "gray-ness", which has conditioned youth thru adult years with untoward blurring of that distinction. It ain't about civil rights – it's about behaviors which are right vs. those considered wrong in our Judeo-Christian heritage, unpopular as that remains in CA. Is it possible – just possible – the GLB etc. community is wrong? The majority of CA voters & the CA State Supreme Court affirmed that view.

  9. avatar Bill Bradley says:

    People need to think through next steps on Prop 8.

    Emotionalism and enormous, boneheaded mistakes are the two main reasons why it passed in the first place.

  10. avatar Anonymous says:

    Wilson was way down in the polls when he decided to support Prop 187 and won going away as a result. But the elites in newspapers were mightily offended that he would choose to support what the electorate of the state wanted instead accepting their agenda and they proceeded to attack Wilson, repeating endlessly how his support of the anti-illegal immigration initiative should be interpreted as being anti-immigrant and anti-Latino. Being big promoters of racial and ethnic identity politics they gave made it their mission to punish Wilson for his transgression against them, a message that many politicians heed. Racial and ethnic politics is powerful stuff, as we’ve seen about the world when former friends and neighbors can be lead to killing each other as a result.

    Of course the blogger here was one of those in newspapers, working at Mercury News (which was at the forefront of ASNE’s racial and ethnic quotas) as political editor decrying those issues he wanted to keep politicians from broaching as “divisive.” Then after helping with the election of Gray Davis, he immediately went to work for his administration.

    Davis was asked about 187 during the campaign because a judge had kept the initiative tied up in her court for so long that, although it passed at the same time Wilson was reelected, by the time she ruled on it the responsibility of the appeal was to fall to Davis. Here’s what he had to say about the appeal:

    ”If this were a piece of legislation, I would veto it,” Mr. Davis said. ”But it’s not. It’s an initiative, passed by nearly 60 percent of the voters through a process specifically designed to go over the heads of the Legislature and the Governor. While I believe that some of the provisions of Prop 187 are unconstitutional, I’m a Governor, not a judge.”

    I’m sure most Californians would agree with that assessment. Too bad it had nothing to do with what he actually did. The voters of California never had their chance to have an appeals court hear their case, unlike the heinous criminal. Instead Davis did what he called “mediation.” First of all Davis had it right when he said that it was the province of judges and not politicians. But it wasn’t even mediation which is designed to get opposing parties to agree. Yet only those on one side who opposed 187 were allowed to participate in Davis’ kangaroo court. As outrageous as all this was, Davis was as protected by newspapers just as Wilson was attacked by them.

  11. avatar Anonymous says:

    Given the facts R & T provided above:

    Which people?

    Explain the emotions involved.

    Explain the enormous boneheaded mistakes.

  12. avatar Dana Gabbard says:

    Bill Bradley new column on Huffingtonpost explains the Prop 8 mistakes, etc.:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-bradley/the-tragedy-of-california_b_207811.html

  13. avatar Bill Bradley says:

    I guess you don’t read the Huffington Post …

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-bradley/the-tragedy-of-california_b_207811.html

    Incidentally, re another poster. Pete Wilson and the Republicans won the battle on Prop 187, but decidedly lost the war.

  14. avatar Anonymous says:

    When you read Calbuzz, you don’t need more.

  15. avatar DAVID says:

    NEXT ISSUE, please? ;-)

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