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SKELTON: Supreme Court follows the public on Prop. 8

The way I read it, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded what increasing numbers of Californians have been saying: that opponents of same-sex marriage can't show any personal harm from two gay people exchanging vows.

The justices wrote in legalese about court "standing," asserting that defendants of Proposition 8 could not prove "a personal and tangible harm" — a "personal, particularized injury" — if people of the same sex were allowed to officially marry.

My late friend Bill from rural Taft used to say pretty much the same thing, if less eloquently. He didn't care what people did "as long as they don't scare the horses."

I totally agreed and voted against Proposition 8 in 2008 when it passed by a 4.6 percentage point margin, amending the state Constitution to read that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

My view, like millions of other people's, had evolved over the years.

I concluded we had much more important things to worry about than what two people living together in a loving relationship were called: "partners" or "married." Some opponents of same-sex marriage argued that it violated God's will. Maybe theirs. My God didn't fret about homosexuality. If gays and lesbians could find comfort and happiness from formal marriage, I figured, let them. Congratulations and best wishes.

That said, the 7 million Californians who voted for Proposition 8 got cheated by state politicians.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown — and later Gov. Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris — refused to defend Proposition 8 in federal court. They contended the measure was unconstitutional. But no one elected them judge. They took an oath to defend the state Constitution. The governor can appoint judges, but can't become one unless he resigns from office.

Just seems to me this is a major flaw in California democracy. Voters shouldn't simply be ignored when they pass a ballot initiative. For Brown, especially, it's hypocritical after he insisted that the electorate be given the final say on any tax increase.

Because the state refused to defend Proposition 8, the Supreme Court ruled, the initiative's private sponsors had no standing — no legal right — to appeal a lower court ruling that the measure violated the U.S. Constitution. They had suffered no "concrete and particularized injury" from the lower court decision. So it stands.

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