In the wake of the passage Proposition 8, which seems likely to pass scrutiny by the California Supreme Court, there’s a new effort underway in California to deal with the issue of marriage equality in a different way:
Ali Shams, a senior at the University of California-San Diego, was watching a soccer game with a bunch of buddies when his phone started ringing Tuesday, and refused to stop.
Surprising even the 22-year-old pre-law student, his personal project during Christmas break — framing a constitutional amendment initiative to replace the word “marriage” with “domestic partnership” under state law — was cleared by Secretary of State Debra Bowen to gather petition signatures for a potential statewide ballot.
Fox News, NBC, The Associated Press and many of the state’s largest newspapers were on the phone wanting to discuss the unusual initiative launched by Shams and his friend Kaelan Housewright, a 21-year-old senior at the California Institute of the Arts. More to the point was Queerty.com, a gay issues blog which marveled: “Straight Dudes File California Gay Marriage Ballot Initiative.”
The measure would overturn Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage, and have California treat all unions — opposite-sex or same-sex — as domestic partnerships. It would also allow churches, synagogues and mosques to decide whom they want to marry in a social, rather than civil, ceremony.
The domestic partnership initiative might be an extreme long shot to pass — or even make it to the ballot. In what may be a first, the warring sides in the Proposition 8 campaign agree on something — they both hate the idea.
However, Shams believes he is going to accomplish something important by getting people to talk about his proposal, even if it doesn’t pass.
At this point, it’s not even clear that the initiative will get the 700,000 signatures it needs to get on the ballot, but it’s really the only solution to the marriage equality problem that makes sense in the end as I’ve argued before on several occasions — see here, here, here, and here:
Get rid of civil marriage licenses entirely. Let people decide for themselves what they believe about marriage and let them, if they wish solemnize that union in a church of their choice. We are hundreds of years past the day where the state was involved in religious affairs, it doesn’t need to be involved in this matter either.
It’s something of a radical concept in today’s day and age, and while I’m not quite sure people are ready for it, it’s good to see people finally raising it in public.