In a historic decision that will hopefully pave the way for other US states to grant full marriage rights to LGBT couples, California's Supreme Court ruled today that civil unions are not an acceptable subsitute for marriage. The decision was close at 4 votes for to 3 against, and may still come up against challenges in this November's general election, but significant support for marriage rights does exist among California's elected officials. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger emphatically declared that he would not support any ballot measure that sought to overturn today's landmark ruling.
Of particular interest to our readers here at Families Joined by Love will doubtless be the language used by Chief Justice Ron George to justify the court's ruling: "Our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation." This statement not only validates the capability of LGBT individuals to enrich one another's lives in romantic relationships, but also gives credence to the fact that people in same-sex relationships can provide a wholesome and nurturing environment for any children they may choose to bring into their lives. The ruling thus constitutes not only a victory for LGBT marriage rights, but also a promising look towards future opportunities for LGBT individuals to become parents without social hassle or legal barriers.
As far as legal issues go, California already has provisions on the books to allow individuals in committed same-sex relationships to divorce, obtain custody of children, and/or sue for child support. While we can all hope that every same-sex couple that marries in the State of California will enjoy a long and happy life together, these provisions must exist to prevent some of the problems that have occurred in other states regarding options for divorce and/or protection from domestic violence. For now, we can all celebrate this important legal victory, and keep our fingers crossed that California civil courts begin practicing full marriage ceremonies as soon as possible.