Interview With Californian Judge Ronald George: 'Young People Are Much More Accepting of Gay Marriage'
Last week the Californian Supreme Court decided that gay marriage was legal. The decision, authored by Chief Justice Ronald George, cleared the way for thousands of gay couples to tie the knot. In an interview with SPIEGEL, George explains the meaning and context of the court's ruling.
SPIEGEL: Will the decision to legalize gay marriage in California influence the thinking in other states?
SPIEGEL: Gay marriage has always been a favorite issue when it comes to mobilizing the religious right. Have you gotten a lot of criticism?
George: So far there has not been much indication of that. I would not have been surprised if there had been more reaction. Actually, itís quieter than I would have thought.
SPIEGEL: When the Supreme Court in Massachusetts handed down a similarly controversial ruling on gay marriage in 2004, George W. Bush used it to rally the Christian right. But his possible successor, John McCain, hasn't done that yet.
George: Well, you know, the mood has changed. Itís hard to say. A lot of it depends on geography, some of it also is generational. According to some polls, young people are much more tolerant or accepting of gay marriage than older generations. Look, our governor, [Arnold] Schwarzenegger, said he respected the courtís decision and would uphold it. Of course, that is his duty, but he didnít have to say that. And he's a Republican.
SPIEGEL: Republican politicians hoped that judges they appointed would defend the conservative legacy even if the White House goes to the Democrats in the fall. Have you switched sides?
SPIEGEL: If a majority of Californians vote to ban gay marriage in a referendum in November, does your decision lose its meaning? Or are they just overturning the word "marriage?"
George: If this amendment to the constitution passes, it would prevent gay people from being married, but it would not remove this protection that we put in our analysis. ... We're saying that if you look at a classification of gay people, you must treat it just as if you are classifying on the basis of the color of their skin or their religion. And that is probably the most important thing in the whole ruling, even though the population's attention understandably has mostly been on the "M word" of marriage.
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