SAN FRANCISCO — California’s 1st District Court of Appeals upheld the state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” in a 2-1 decision Oct. 5.

In a state that already has strong domestic partner laws, the court noted in its 128-page decision that the same-sex “marriage” ban does not discriminate against homosexuals since registered domestic partners have virtually the same rights as married couples in the state.

Writing for the majority, Justice William McGuiness also said, “We believe it is rational for the Legislature to preserve the opposite-sex definition of marriage, which has existed throughout history and which continues to represent the common understanding of marriage in most other countries and states of our union.”

Dissenting Justice Anthony Kline said that the people’s right to define marriage is superseded by the need to end discrimination.

“Ignoring the qualities attached to marriage by the Supreme Court, and defining it instead by who it excludes, demeans the institution of marriage and diminishes the humanity of the gay men and lesbians who wish to marry a loved one of their choice,” he said.

While family activists and religious groups who favor traditional marriage are bolstered by the decision, their optimism is guarded, as they are aware that this is only one battle in a long-term culture war and their battleground is America’s most permissive state.

In a statement for the California Catholic Conference, Bishop Stephen Blair of Stockton noted that, “Both Catholic and Western tradition maintain that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love. This union was instituted by God and by its very nature exists for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.”

California Catholic Conference spokesman Ned Dolejsi told the Register that he knows the fight is not over.

“Obviously, we have to take it one step at a time. We have no doubt that it will end up in the state Supreme Court. And I have no doubt that in January we will see a bill to legalize same-sex ‘marriage.’ Mark Leno has vowed to re-introduce it.”

Leno, a San Francisco assemblyman, introduced a bill legalizing same-sex “marriage” that was passed this year only to be vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Said Dolejsi, “It will be hand-to-hand combat in the Legislature, and we will be fully engaged in it.”

One Vote

But Marriage Equality USA spokeswoman Molly McKay said that public opinion is on her side.

“More Californians support marriage equality than oppose it,” she said. “We have been getting more and more support — even among Catholics in California — on this issue.”

She argued that though the Church does not recognize divorce, “I’m sure most Catholics would not want to prohibit people outside the Church from getting divorced.

“I don’t think Catholics would want the government to get inside so much of the Church’s business that it’s talking about whether it’s appropriate to have grape juice or wine solemnized at a particular ceremony,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important that there remain a religious freedom issue and a separation between what the government does and what the Church does.”

McKay commutes to work in Oakland every day wearing a wedding dress to bring attention to the state’s marriage laws.

Randy Thomasson, chairman of Campaign for Children and Families, a pro-life, pro-family activist organization based in Sacramento, is pleased with the decision, but wary of what might follow.

“Marriage for a man and a woman won by just one vote. Marriage for a man and a woman can lose by just one vote at the next level,” he said. “The California Supreme Court can create ‘homosexual marriages’ with four justices voting that way. By our count, they already have three that believe in the notion of two men or two women getting marriage licenses.

“The ruling was very clear that it is up to the people to determine California’s marriage laws,” he coninued. “The court noted that the people had already spoken to re-affirm marriage from Proposition 22 in the year 2000. The court said the Legislature can only change the marriage laws as the constitution allows. The Constitution of California does not allow the Legislature to repeal voter-approved initiatives; therefore, the people need to vote to override the judges and the politicians to protect marriage permanently and fully in the California Constitution.”

Thomasson is not waiting for the state Supreme Court to decide. He is attempting to amend the state’s constitution with VoteYesmarriage.com, a new proposition that would insulate traditional marriage from the courts and state Legislature.

“The amendment permanently protects marriage for one man and one woman by placing that protection in the state constitution,” he said. “Proposition 22 was a mere statute, which legislators fantasized that they could ignore and judges watered at the mouth to overrule. The good news is that the state constitution overruled the judges. When the VoteYesMarriage.com amendment passes, it will override all state judges, and all state and local politicians in California. No one will be able to mess with marriage again.”

Robert Kumpel is based

in Valdosta, Georgia.