Prop 8 and California’s proud conservative heritage | Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Prop 8 and California’s proud conservative heritage

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It’s not often I get the chance to tout California’s conservative bona fides, but today I’ll give it a whirl.

The late Jerry Garcia (guitar) and Mickey Hart (drums) of the Grateful Dead, one of San Francisco's cultural icons. (Wiki Commons)

The late Jerry Garcia (guitar) and Mickey Hart (drums) of the Grateful Dead, one of San Francisco’s cultural icons.
(Wiki Commons)

People that don’t live in California and never have, will often say, “Leave it to California.” Or, “Only in California.” Then they shake their heads in contempt or pity. Heck, when I lived in Wisconsin I would often say, “Only in California!” And then fantasize about living here! People who used to live here but got the hell out tell their friends, “See why I left California?”

“Uh-huh, I know. Nuthin’ is too crazy for California.”

The common misconception of California is that it’s this hotbed of crazy, leftwing, Hollywood and San Francisco liberal insanity. To be honest, it’s really hard to completely refute that opinion. We do have Hollywood, the second home to Ashley Judd and Sean Penn, and San Francisco is … err … San Francisco, home of the Grateful Dead and Nancy effin’ Pelosi, so yeah, there is a lot of that crazy, leftwing, Hollywood and San Francisco liberal ideology.

It’s easy to see why people assume the whole frikkin’ state is like that. Well, it isn’t. In the 21 years I’ve been a resident of the Golden State we have had a Republican governor for 15 of those years.

Former Democratic California Congressman Bob Filner is now Mayor of San Diego. (Official Mayoral Portrait)

Former Democratic California Congressman Bob Filner is now Mayor of San Diego.
(Official Mayoral Portrait)

In fact, right here in Sunny Sandy Eggo you’ll find one of the most conservative counties in all of America. Well, maybe not so much anymore. We just elected our first Democrat mayor, former Congressman Bob Filner, and — I SWEAR TO EFFIN’ GOD! — my congressional district, the California 52nd, is now represented by a Democrat, Scott Peters!

Granted, some of that had to do with redistricting, but there’s this other development that is having an effect on congressional districts and voting trends: the Hispanic population is growing in California and as we learned in the previous national election, our Spanish-speaking neighbors overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

  • As of the 2010 census California was 38.6 percent Hispanic and it’s grown a bit since then.

Until this year my representatives have all been Republicans. Starting with Randy “Duke” Cunningham, yes THAT Duke Cunningham, one-time inspiration for the movie Top Gun and now a convicted felon doing time in a federal prison.

Former Republican Congressman from California, Randy "Duke" Cunningham was a "Top Gun" aviator in the U.S. Navy before he was a politician. He was convicted of taking bribes from contractors and is doing time in a federal prison. (Wiki Commons)

Former Republican Congressman from California, Randy “Duke” Cunningham was a “Top Gun” aviator in the U.S. Navy before he was a politician. He was convicted of taking bribes from contractors and is doing time in a federal prison. (Wiki Commons)

After Cunningham we had über-conservative Duncan Hunter and then his son, Duncan Hunter II. Due to redistricting I’ve been in the 50th, the 51st and now the 52nd districts. And I think at one time the 49th.

Traditionally, San Diego’s mayors have always been Republicans, or to be technically accurate: conservatives. Mayors in San Diego don’t have official political affiliations. One of our former mayors, Roger Hedgecock, lost his job when he was indicted and then convicted of campaign finance violations. In all fairness to Hedgecock, his two trials were such a mess, complete with jury tampering, his case was reduced to a misdemeanor and just fizzled out after that. But then he became one of the leading über-conservative radio hosts in America, often serving as a guest host for Rush Limbaugh.

Most of our mayors have been fairly moderate, but strictly Republican. In 1996 our fair city was host to the Republican National Convention and Mayor Susan Golding, another Republican, was on stage, front and center, to kick off the gala that sent Senator Bob Dole to eventual defeat.

That’s basically the political pedigree of San Diego — until the 2012 elections.

Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez sent shockwaves through California's political scene when, in 1996, she won election in the very “Red” Orange County, unseating long-time Republican congressman Bob Dornan. (Wiki Commons)

Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez sent shockwaves through California’s political scene when, in 1996, she won election in the very “Red” Orange County, unseating long-time Republican congressman Bob Dornan. (Wiki Commons)

The two counties north of San Diego, Orange and Riverside, are extremely conservative. But like San Diego, they have Democratic Congressional representatives. In fact, Loretta Sanchez represents the center of Orange County and when she wrested the seat from Republican Bob Dornan in 1996, that was a big deal in California politics. Not only is Sanchez a woman and Hispanic — she is a Democrat! “BOOOO!”

And then there is the Central Valley and the eastern portion of the state that is solidly, boldly, red — none of you lefty, commie-pinko Democrats allowed.

As you can see, California isn’t quite the bastion of liberal ideology most people assume when conservatives get on TV and bash Hollywood and San Francisco. Hell, San Francisco isn’t even the most “Gay” city in America. According to The Advocate, Tacoma, WA is the gayest city in America and Springfield, MA is number two. San Francisco comes in #17 on their list.

This will blow your mind: The Advocate rates Salt Lake City, UT higher on the Gay Scale than San Francisco. But take heart my gay friends in the Bay Area, Oakland makes the list at #11. (sigh) … and San Fran has all those kinky clubs, straight and gay. California used to be so cool.

It shouldn’t be any great surprise that the last two presidents from California have been Republicans: Richard M. Nixon (born and bred) and Ronald Reagan (transplanted to be an actor and governor).

Howard Jarvis made the cover of Time Magazine on June 19, 1978 after getting Prop 13 passed in California. (Public Domain)

Howard Jarvis made the cover of Time Magazine on June 19, 1978 after getting Prop 13 passed in California. (Public Domain)

No surprise that the über-conservative political group The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is headquartered in California. Howard Jarvis, as many recall, was one of the primary creators and supporters of California’s “Prop 13,” officially named “The Peoples Initiative to Limit Property Taxation.” How’s that for a Socialist-sounding name!

This is the law that started the “Taxpayer Revolt” in the 1980’s and gave rise to the current Republican/Conservative movement.

Despite California’s “lefty” reputation, we have some deep and entangled conservative roots. Yes, our two senators are Democrats Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, but we brought you Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon as well, not to mention Herbert Hoover.

So if you’re wondering how Prop 8 could come from California, wonder no more.

Get this: Prop 8 passed in the November 2008 election that saw the state of California go to President Obama. Yep, many of the same people that voted to make Barack Obama president also voted to make same-sex marriage illegal in the Golden State. Almost 80 percent of registered voters turned out to the polls in that election and 7,001,084, or 52.24 percent, voted for Prop 8. Even Los Angeles County, home to those left-commie liberal elites of Hollywood, voted for Prop 8.

What got opponents of same-sex marriage all riled up was the California Supreme Court ruling for “In re Marriage Cases” in May 2008 which saw the state’s highest court rule that any laws passed prohibiting same-sex couples from getting married were unconstitutional in California.

Gavin Newsome was the Mayor of San Francisco in 2004 when he decided to perform marriages for same-sex couples. Currently he is California’s Lt. Governor. (Official Portrait-Wiki Commons)

Gavin Newsome was the Mayor of San Francisco in 2004 when he decided to perform marriages for same-sex couples. Currently he is California’s Lt. Governor. (Official Portrait-Wiki Commons)

BOOM!

All those same-sex marriages conducted by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome in 2004 were going to be revalidated! Maybe you remember Newsome on the steps of city hall marrying same-sex couples from morning ’til night — or so it seemed. Only in San Francisco, that cesspool of liberal thought and homosexual depravity, could we see such a spectacle. Over 4,000 same-sex couples were married in those whirlwind days of February 2004.

As is their nature, the people against watching gay couples kiss in public whipped into overdrive, with the financial and immoral support of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Holy Roman Catholic Church, to once and for all, make “opposite-sex marriage only” the law of the land.

Their effort was quite impressive really. They had deadlines to meet to get the initiative on the November ballot. The organizers of Prop 8 needed to get just over 600,000 registered voters to sign petitions — they got over a million — and they had to overcome challenges to the initiative, like the official name: “Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.”

Them bastard liberals in California government, especially that hippy-dippy Jerry Brown! He was the State Attorney General at the time (he’s now the governor for the second time) and he’s the one responsible for the name on the initiative. He wanted to accurately portray what the ballot initiative would do, but the backers of the “We don’t think gays are equal” proposition wouldn’t be held back.

Retired Federal Judge Vaughn Walker. (Wiki Commons)

Retired Federal Judge Vaughn Walker. (Wiki Commons)

So the election came and went, Prop 8 passed to great jubilation in the “Gays are bad” community and people thought it was a done deal. But like a lot of things in California politics, it still had some legs.

The people that supported equal rights for everyone did what was expected of them: they challenged it and wouldn’t you know it, the most liberal U.S. District Court, the Ninth, is located right there in good ole’ San Fran-you effin’ betcha-cisco. Where else could it be? They filed appeals in the California Supreme Court as well.

On August 4, 2010, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker overturned the law stating it was, “… unconstitutional under the due process clause because no compelling state interest justifies denying same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry.”

As judges often do, Walker said a lot more, but basically he pissed off the “No marriage for queers” coalition. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, 2-1, saying Prop 8 not only violated the Equal Protection clause, the court had the temerity to say that the only purpose of Proposition 8 was to impose the majority’s disapproval of gays and lesbians on the minority. And get this: they based their decision on facts brought into evidence, not frothy public emotional appeal. Who does that anymore?

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Elena Kagan had one of the more memorable quips of the Prop * case when she said couples over the age of 55 weren’t making many babies. (Official Portrait-Wiki Commons)

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Elena Kagan had one of the more memorable quips of the Prop * case when she said couples over the age of 55 weren’t making many babies. (Official Portrait-Wiki Commons)

The case was brought to the full five-member Ninth Circuit Court, but they refused to hear it and viola— the proponents of Prop 8 found themselves in front of the U.S. Supreme Court arguing their case. So we get to hear Associate Justice Antonin Scalia suggest, humorously of course, the states could force couples to fill out a questionnaire demanding to know if the couple applying for a marriage license is fertile.

You see, the attorney arguing for Prop 8, Charles Cooper, admitted that the main thrust of Prop 8 was for the state to regulate procreation. In response to Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Cooper said he could think of no other reason for the State of California to have Proposition 8. That’s when Justice Kagan assured Mr. Cooper, “… if both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage.” Ba-dum-bump.

The U.S. Supreme Court has now heard arguments concerning Prop 8 and DOMA — the Defense of Marriage Act — that was passed into law and signed by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. Since then Clinton and various lawmakers that voted for DOMA have changed their opinions and said DOMA should be repealed.

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court both will probably be overturned. Five of the nine justices questioned the constitutionality of DOMA. That’s a good sign for people who believe equal rights and equal protection under the law applies to everyone. The rights and protection wouldn’t be “equal” if they didn’t cover all of us. In fact one could argue that if we don’t all have equal rights then we have no rights at all, just broad privileges.

David Boies and Ted Olson are the two lawyers leading the team to strike down both Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. In December 2000 they met before the Supreme Court in the election decision that put George W. Bush in the White House. (Both photos-Wiki Commons)

David Boies and Ted Olson are the two lawyers leading the team to strike down both Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. In December 2000 they met before the Supreme Court in the election decision that put George W. Bush in the White House. (Both photos-Wiki Commons)

We shall see though, when the court publishes its opinions on Prop 8 and DOMA in June. As every prognosticator and TV talker blind-sided by the court’s decision on Obamacare has said, you can’t foretell what the Supreme Court will decide based on oral arguments.

It’s bad news for the anti-gay marriage crowd. The Supreme Court is the last stop on the appeals trail. If the court ends up legalizing same-sex marriage you can bet there will be a lot of unhappy campers in California. Who knows what they’ll try next. I guess they could take Scalia’s suggestion and try to impose a fertility test on couples applying for marriage licenses. Just what California needs — another damn regulation.

Leave it to California to try something like that.


About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality. Contact the author.
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