California started performing same-sex marriages Monday evening, in compliance with a state Supreme Court ruling in May. The first wedding was between lesbians Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 83, who have been a couple for 55 years. Opponents of gay marriage hope a November ballot initiative will overturn the court’s ruling. (AP in Yahoo! News)
What the commentators said
“The long, difficult battle for marriage equality” isn’t over, said the San Francisco Chronicle in an editorial. But this “was a day to celebrate” for those who believe same-sex marriage is “a fundamental civil right.” California voters may well outlaw gay marriage again, but that probably won’t invalidate the marriages already performed. Besides, with public opinion getting friendlier, “time is on the side of marriage equality.”
But not on the side of “religious liberty,” said Marc D. Stern in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). If past case law is any guide, religious rights will be "obliterated" if they get in the way of society's new idea of equality, as they did in San Francisco and Boston when Catholic charities ended adoption services rather than be compelled to place children with same-sex couples. As the courts encourage “same-sex couples to come out of the closet, as it were,” they are forcing religious people "into the sanctuary."
Let’s see what the U.S. Supreme Court says, said Kenneth Blackwell in The New York Sun. Unlike Massachusetts, California doesn’t limit same-sex marriages to state residents, which means that, like it or not, “every state in America will have same-sex marriage” soon enough. The Defense of Marriage Act allows states to disregard gay marriages performed in other states, but it will certainly face a constitutional challenge now—and “supporters of traditional marriage may lose.” Voters won’t like that.
“Cultural conservatives” may be wrong in assuming “that most Americans condemn gay marriage,” said Mark Franek in the Philadelphia Daily News. “People are clearly not on the same page” about sexual orientation, but “we may be near a tipping point.” Before too long, “gays, like interracial couples before them, will get their wedding cake”—and “California and Massachusetts, like two couples at opposite ends of the country, are inviting the rest of us to the party.”