Tuesday, March 15, 2005

“We’ve Never Done It That Way Before”

That little phrase is the bulwark of bad business practices and just plain stubborness, and it has always made me crazy when I hear it, especially when the person who is saying it has run out of any rational excuse for changing whatever it is that they’ve always done a certain way.

It apparently has the same effect on Judge Richard A. Kramer of San Francisco Superior Court who ruled today that California’s ban on same-gender marriage is a violation of the state constitution’s equal protection clause.

While many aspects of history, culture and tradition are properly embedded in the law, Judge Kramer wrote, the prohibition against same-sex marriage is not. “The state’s protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional,” he wrote.


That law is contrary to the spirit of the state constitution, the plaintiffs argued, and today Judge Kramer agreed.

“Simply put, same-sex marriage cannot be prohibited solely because California has always done so before,” the judge said. [New York Times]

You can read the text of the tentative ruling here (pdf).

I have no doubt that this ruling will be appealed and eventually this issue will make it to the U.S. Supreme Court in some form or another — although this case won’t be the source because it’s a state, not a federal case. And I have no doubt whatsoever that there will be setbacks. But at last a court has finally said, “Hey, just because we’ve done it this way for so long doesn’t make it right.” We finally got around to saying that about slavery and segregation, and it’s about time we said it about whom we want to marry.