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San Diego's Marriage Town Hall: NCLR's Kate Kendell Talks About Prop 8 Legal Case

In perhaps a quite more hopeful talk than we recently saw her make in Dallas, Texas, the National Center For Lesbian Rights’ (NCLR’s) Kate Kendell was one of many speakers at San Diego’s Marriage Town Hall, held at the San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center.

She sat down with me after the town hall, and gave this interview. (This is a companion interview for our recent interview of NCLR’s Shannon Minter.)

An excerpt from the interview:

Autumn Sandeen: So, tonight we’re at the LGBT Center in San Diego — our community center here — and we just got done with a town hall. And, you were the first speaker, and you’re also were talking about the legal case. Can you briefly summarize what you talked about regarding Prop 8?

Kate Kendell: Sure, I’d be happy too. Y’know, we shouldn’t be in this situation, and that’s the main point that I want to make. And in addition to that we are very hopeful that the court will have the courage of its convictions and do the right thing. But, we shouldn’t even be here.

It is an absurd circumstance that a majority would be able, right in the wake of a magnificent, landmark, court ruling, be able to put the fundamental rights of a minority group on the ballot — for popular vote! And, if we look at any other historic landmark ruling from any court, that’s never happened. And, it doesn’t happen for a reason, because courts play a role — they’re equal; they’re an equal branch of government, and they get to interpret the constitution.

And sometimes the voters, or the people, may not like the way the courts rule. Brown vs. Board of Education, Roe vs. Wade,  women rights issues — but these cases stand, and they move us forward. And, we look back and we’re with pride because our country came farther because courts played their traditional role.

But here, the courts’ ruling was immediately put up for a vote. Prop 8 was already in the offing…

Autumn Sandeen: Right.

Kate Kendell: …Prop 8 was already going to be on the ballot. But now, the stakes were so much higher! Because, a fundamental right had been granted and recognized for us.

Autumn Sandeen: And, as you were saying, if we’d have put Brown vs. Board of Education, or we’d have put any — geez — any civil rights ruling right after they happened, and put them up for a popular vote…

Kate Kendell: That’s right.

Autumn Sandeen: …they would have been repealed.

Kate Kendell: Yep. And sometimes the majority — it’s not that the majority…We think of the majority as this bad thing. Y’know, sometimes people don’t like change, and they are uncomfortable with change. And, so they immediately have a knee jerk reaction — it’s a human impulse, we all have it. It’s why we don’t usually allow voters to vote on a landmark ruling from a Supreme Court — a state Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

So, we shouldn’t be in this situation at all, but we are.

And, we now we wait for a ruling in the challenge to Prop 8. We are asking the Court to do something very simple, and actually pretty narrow — and not particularly remarkable. We’re asking them to simply say if you are faced with a measure that takes away a fundamental right from a protected minority group, you cannot do that through a simple amendment process. You have to go through the more deliberative process of a constitutional revision. Also, a method that is part of the California Constitution.

I hope that the court will protect it’s own ruling; protect its legacy; protect its role as a protector of minority interests…

Autumn Sandeen: As do we all.

Kate Kendell: And, save us from a future where the voters can do anything they wanted to any minority group in California. And if Prop 8 is upheld, there will be nothing that we can do about it. So, we’re keeping our fingers crossed…And say whatever to prayer you say to whatever to whoever you say it to if you do, and hoping that justice is ultimately done.

There’s more to the interview…of course I recommend watching the entire interview.

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Autumn Sandeen

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