Court Strikes Down Ban on Gay Marriage in California, Article in NY Times

In his article “Court Strikes Down Ban on Gay Marriage in California”, Adam Nagourney informs us that the ban on gay marriage enforced by the passing of Proposition 8 in 2008 was deemed unconstitutional by a three-judge panel by a two to one vote. The panel upheld the same decision made in 2010 by Judge Vaugn R. Walker, who has since retired from the Federal District Court of the Northern District of California. Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt stated that “Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently”.

Advocates of Proposition 8 were disappointed in the court’s ruling, but expressed doubt that the Supreme Court would use the case to establish same- sex marriage as a constitutional right. This theory seems to be supported, for now, by the fact that the case was written to only apply to California; this may prompt the court to wait for a clearer dispute before weighing in on the issue.

The author’s tone in this article is very informative with quotes and opinions from both supporters and non-supporters of Proposition 8, as well as statements from the panel of judges. Though there was an effort made to remain unbiased, it seems as though the author failed to do so, citing more quotes and statistics from supporters of same-sex marriages than those on the opposing side. Even going so far as to closing the article from the son of one of the couples who initiated the case.

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“With this ruling, in the eyes of the government, my family is finally normal.”

Spencer Perry is quoted as saying. In doing so, Nagourney uses Aristotle’s Pathos appeal and gives a sense of hope to gays and lesbians who don’t feel “normal”, and also to those who support same-sex marriages.

In the song “Marrying You” Green and Root sing:

The straight people say…

“Huh, two women getting married, how unusual.”

And the gay people say…

“Why do you want to imitate straight culture anyway?”

They tell me that I’m brainwashed,

I’ll say it’s washed alright

With so much warmth, I couldn’t stay cold

So much comfort, I couldn’t stay alone

So much love I just couldn’t say no

This mainly uses the Pathos appeal, telling us to ask ourselves what’s the difference between gay marriage and straight marriage, besides the obvious. Both relationships contain two people who love each other so much, that they just couldn’t say no to the idea of marriage.

In another article, “California Gay Marriage Ban Overturned, Appeal Planned”, Peter Henderson and Dan Levine further the Pathos appeal, as well as touch on the Logos and Ethos appeals, by expanding a quote from Reinhardt that Nagourney had included in his. “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

In the same article, Reinhardt is quoted discouraging supporters of Proposition 8 who stated that it would advance better child-rearing (par. 16) by saying “Proposition 8 therefore could not have been enacted to advance California’s interest in childrearing or responsible procreation for it had no effect on the rights of same-sex couples to raise children or on the procreative practices of other couples.” because of the fact that the only effect of the measure was to deny same-sex couples their right to classify their relationship as a “marriage”.

From this information, it could be gathered that Proposition 8 was solely put together by supports of a ban against gay marriage to support personal opinion. Theodore B. Olson, a lawyer who challenged the ban (par. 8) said himself that the judges had rebutted most of the arguments that had been made (par. 18). One can only hope that supporters of the ban will soon come to realize that a personal opinion should not be made into a law when it downgrades the right of another human being, making them feel like less of a person.

Polls show that public acceptance of gay marriage is steadily increasing (par. 12). A ban would only hinder further acceptance and take us backwards rather than forwards. A person should be allowed to marry who they want to marry regardless of their sexual orientation, and it is my belief that those who feel differently are set in the ways of the past. Increasing acceptance of same-sex marriages show that times are changing and instead of pushing away the change, we should embrace it, regardless of personal opinion.

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Court Strikes Down Ban on Gay Marriage in California, Article in NY Times. (2022, Dec 12). Retrieved from

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