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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Prop. 8 Ruling: Who Won and Who Lost

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2009 at 5:30 AM

click to enlarge Winner or loser?
  • Winner or loser?
Whether it's a good day or a bad day, sometimes it helps to stop for a moment and realize that, whether you like it or not, today will eventually be 20 years ago.

With that in mind, determining who won or lost big as a result of Tuesday's state Supreme Court ruling upholding Prop. 8 (but allowing the 18,000 same-sex couples who wed last year to carry on with their business) is tricky. Right now, there's no indication how future generations will remember May 26, 2009 -- or if the Twitter of tomorrow will reduce humans' memories to goldfish-like 10-second increments. Either way, here's our snap take of the winners and losers of yesterday's ruling:

Kate Kendall, Geoff Kors and the other decision-makers in the No on 8 campaign: Without impugning anyone personally, No on 8 was a vehicle driven with Carole Migden-like operating skills; it was a train wreck/capsizing ferry/dirigible disaster of a campaign. A reversal of November's vote by the Supremes Tuesday would have been a Get Out of Jail Free card for these folks. It was not to be. Verdict: Losers.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Catholic Church: We'll keep it short and sweet -- sometimes you get what you pay for. Verdict: Winners.

Gavin Newsom: Like everything about our opaque erstwhile mayor, this is a mystery. On the one hand, same-sex marriage has been Newsom's signature issue -- whether you think his decision to make San Francisco the Vegas of gay nuptials in '04 was courageous or a brilliant political move that neutered his lefty critics and endeared him to younger, more progressive voters (who he otherwise shouldn't see eye-to-eye with). One could argue that Gavin was something of the official greeter of this casino -- the heavy lifting of actually legalizing gay marriage was being done by others. And yet the damage he did to this cause via his cringe-worthy "whether you like it or not" soundbite is significant. Newsom's opponents can now argue that this is one more of his big ideas that didn't amount to much. Still, Newsom could salvage this by actively tapping into the frustrations of folks whose hopes and dreams were quashed yesterday, making political connections, and -- once again -- expending his political capital in a bold, risky maneuver to be these people's champion. This would require being "engaged." Good luck with that. Verdict: Not quite a loser -- but this almost definitely doesn't help. 

Dennis Herrera
  • Dennis Herrera
Dennis Herrera: Last year we wrote about how the city attorney -- who has an eye on Newsom's old job -- could come out well politiclaly no matter what happened in the No on 8 battle. That's still true. As we put it before: "If he loses his current battle with the Supreme Court to overturn Prop.

8, hey, he was dealt a bad hand. But if he wins -- well, same-sex

couples will probably name their adopted children after him." As the Germans put it, "All skill is in vain when an angel pees down the touch hole of your musket." Whether you like it or not. Verdict: A bruised winner.  

Justices Ronald George, Joyce Kennard, Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, and Carlos Moreno: The four California Supreme Court justices who last year voted to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage would almost definitely have been the targets of a Rose Bird-like recall effort by right-wingers had Prop. 8 not been upheld today. Seeing how well Prop. 8 proponents run campaigns -- they could well have won. The four justices can sleep soundly in knowing they'll have their jobs for a while, even if the ruling they signed today personally displeases them (other than Moreno, who dissented). Verdict: Pyrrhic victors.   

The 18,000 same-sex couples who are still married
: The ladder these folks climbed has been denied to those who didn't think to ascend so quickly. It's odd that the state has, essentially, rewarded those who rushed into the ostensibly lifelong, binding world of marriage. But, then, this is an odd ruling. It could have gone much worse for these folks -- but this survivors' guilt-inducing victory is hardly anything to dance on the table about. Verdict: Unhappy victors.

Finally, last but not least, gays and lesbians who are not married: Let's leave this one to Tom Waits --

So if you find someone, someone to have, someone to hold/
Don't trade it for silver, don't trade it for gold/
I have all of life's treasures, they are fine and they are good/
They remind me that houses are just made of wood/
What makes a house grand ain't the roof or the doors/
If there's love in a house, it's a palace for sure/
Without love -- it ain't nothin' but a house, a house where nobody lives.

Verdict: Who else lost more?

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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