Tales from the Trail

California gay marriage ruling has candidates quickly taking sides

With a pair of too-close-to-call political campaigns heating up in California — for governor and for Democrat Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat – the candidates wasted no time in staking out their positions after a federal judge in San Francisco struck down California’s ban on gay marriages.

jerrybrownIn a case that most believe the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately have to decide, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker on Wednesday ruled that California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 was unconstitutional because it unfairly singled out gay and lesbian couples as being forbidden to legally wed, violating their rights to due process and equal protection under the Constitution.

For Democrat Jerry Brown, who is running against Republican Meg Whitman for governor, the case offered a natural opening: As the state’s attorney general, he has refused to defend Proposition 8 in court, instead filing a brief with the state Supreme Court to overturn it in a move that raised eyebrows among legal scholars but won him support among gay  and civil rights rights activists.

“In striking down Proposition 8,  Judge Walker came to the same conclusion I did when I declined to defend it,” Brown said in a written statement that was released by his office about half an hour after Walker’s ruling became public.  “Proposition 8 violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution by taking away the right of same-sex couples to marry, without a sufficient governmental interest.”

As a former eBay CEO and political novice, Whitman has so far had no public role in the fight over gay marriage in California, but her campaign office issued a statement reflecting her position on the hot-button issue: “Meg supported Proposition 8 and believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Meg also strongly supports California’s civil union laws. Today’s ruling is the first step in a process that will continue.”

from FaithWorld:

Karl Rove says did not ask for gay marriage fight

Karl Rove, the political operative widely credited with the electoral successes of former U.S. President George W. Bush, says in his new book that he did not choose gay marriage as a wedge issue but that circumstances thrust it his way.

Conventional wisdom, at least in some circles, has it that Rove masterminded gay marriage as an issue in the 2004 White House race  in a bid to get conservative evangelicals -- a key base for the Republican Party, especially during the Bush years -- to the polls. There were ballot initiatives in about a  dozen states that year to ban gay marriage (or, supporters of such measures would argue, to defend traditional marriage).  Many political commentators have said such tactics are in keeping with the "Rovian" strategy of ginning up the base to clinch narrow victories.

USA-POLITICS/ROVE

Rove, in "Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,"  says the ballot initiatives made little difference to the outcome that year and that they were not his idea anyway.

The First Draft: On The Road Again

EGYPT/Now that Congress is back from its week-long Memorial Day recess, it’s time for the U.S. top brass to hit the road. President Barack Obama heads to the Middle East today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Honduras, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is in China and U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke promises a visit to Pakistan this week.

Closer to home, Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor starts making the rounds on Capitol Hill in advance of her confirmation hearings. Meantime, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal faces questions at his confirmation hearing today before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. McChrystal’s nominated to be the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

This might be an opportune time for travel. The Ipsos/Reuters poll indicates global consumer confidence is stabilizing, after dropping for 18 months.

Obama inauguration pastor choice: war or peace?

NEWYORK-SUMMIT/CLINTONPresident-elect Barack Obama is seeking peace at his inauguration, but gay and lesbians see his choice of pastor as a nakedly political continuation of war.

“It is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues,” the prez-elect said, defending his choice of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren — a same-sex marriage opponent. Obama said he personally would continue be a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans.

Equality California chief Geoff Kors said the decision amounted to choosing someone who ‘declared war on one minority community’.

Obama leaves no stone unturned, hits up MTV audience

WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama may be in the lead in the polls, but he’s leaving little to chance especially among younger voters.

He went on MTV to answer questions from young voters ranging from student loans and taxes to gay marriage and whether ordinances should be passed prohibiting sagging pants — yes sagging pants.

“I think people passing a law against people wearing sagging pants is a waste of time. We should be focused on creating jobs, improving our schools, health care, dealing with the war in Iraq,” Obama said.