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Post Prop 8, What To Watch For

 New America Media, News Report, Jamilah King

SAN FRANCSICO -- On Wednesday a district court judge in San Francisco ruled that Prop 8, California's same-sex marriage ban, was unconstitutional (Read the full decision here). The ban's been in effect since November 2008, when 52 percent of California's voters passed Prop 8. The controversial law overturned the state's Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage. It's a victory, for sure. But it's also just the beginning of what's sure to be a long legal battle that puts love and desire on trial in a country that has lots of angry and reactionary folks waiting to bust.

1. Who Gets the Blame? When Prop 8 passed by a slim margin two years ago, black voters 
took a lot of the blame. The belief by many non-black gay marriage advocates was that black folks who'd gone to the polls to vote for Obama carried their backwards prejudices against queer folks with them. And while there's surely a lot of work to be done (like everywhere else) to confront homophobia in communities of color, the "blame it on black voters" idea wasfactually shot down -- but not before it seeped into the mainstream dialogue. There was an obvious divide that fell strictly along racial lines, with black and brown gay marriage supporters accusing mainstream white organizations of not doing enough outreach in their communities. We'll see how much that's changed this time around.

2. These Are Trying Times. A common fall back line of same-sex marriage supporters is that we're "on the right side of history." And that's true. But that history's not going down without a fight. It's widely expected that today's case will go all the way to the Supreme Court. In fact, even before today's ruling, gay marriage opponents had already 
filed a motion to preemptively block the ruling from going into effect. There's also the not-so-small matter of the current Supreme Court recently being described as the most conservative "in living memory." The collective euphoria that swept Obama into the White House nearly two years ago seems to be drowning out political idealism these days. So while many historical struggles have largely depended on popular support from the people, it's sure to be a long legal battle.

3. The Struggle Ain't Over. This should be easy, but between The Real L Word and Lindsay Lohan's downtime escapades with DJ Samantha Ronson, it's hard to find a mainstream news account of the struggles still facing queer folks, especially young black and brown ones. But one of the first people I'd met who'd gotten married before the ban came down was a young black mother who had married her wife while 
locked up in county jail. Sure, it made for a good story -- even history. But while being married was certainly a source of pride, it didn't make finding affordable housing any easier, and it didn't help her navigate the courts to regain custody of her young son. Put simply: if the battle for gay marriage is ultimately a struggle for equality under the law, it's important to keep in mind just how pervasive -- and unequal -- those laws will continue to be.



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