UC Davis Law School graduate Sarah Asplin opened a mixed bag of emotions on Election Night.
Asplin watched the election results on television with a group of No on Proposition 8 volunteers and some law students at a friend’s house, where they went from exhilarated one minute to depressed the next.
“At 7:59 we stood up and raised our glasses and waited for the major networks to call the election for [Senator Barack] Obama,” she said. “I wept. My best friend wept. It was such a profound, historic moment.
“It felt so positive,” she said, “for a brief 30 minutes.“
As soon as the outcome of the presidential election became clear, the primary concern of those in the room became Prop 8.
At press time, the ballot measure headed toward a 52.4 percent Yes to 47.6 percent No passage with 99.1 percent of precincts reporting. Every Davis precinct voted no on the proposition. Despite the results, the No on Prop 8 campaign is not deterred.
“Based on turnout estimates reported yesterday, we expect that there are more than 3 million and possibly as many as 4 million absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted,” said Geoff Kors and Kate Kendall in a statement released by the No on Prop 8 campaign.
The campaign argued that because of this, despite being behind by almost 400,000 votes, the race was still close to call.
“Given that fundamental rights are at stake,” they said, “we must wait to hear from the Secretary of State tomorrow how many votes are yet to be counted as well as where they are from.“
This outcome is not what No on Prop 8 supporters were hoping for.
“[It’s] sad to me that voters were willing to take the leap to elect an African American President and at the same time oppress gay and lesbian people in this state,” Asplin said. “It was sad to me that we couldn’t share this moment as a great victory for both [groups].“
Similar propositions were passed in Florida and Arizona and citizens of Arkansas passed a proposition that bans same-sex couples from adopting children.
Asplin, currently working at a local Sacramento law firm and awaiting the results of her bar examination, said she was glad she and her wife, Elizabeth, got married when they did.
“I’m glad in hindsight that my wife and I were married right away,” she said. “We were the second couple to be married in Yolo County.“
Asplin and her wife were married by Yolo County registrar Freddie Oakley at the registrar’s office.
Whether or not couples in California married during the six-month period between the State Supreme Court’s decision to allow gay marriage and now will remain legally married is not clear at this time, said UC Davis Law Professor Courtney Jocelyn.
“The simple answer is we don’t know,” she said. “There are strong arguments that those marriages should be considered valid.“
Jocelyn noted that California courts have a strong presumption against applying legislation retroactively.
“The court would have to look at the harm [applying the law retroactively] would cause,” she said. “I think the harm here would be very, very great.“
The proposition should be in effect by now, Jocelyn said.
“In terms of when [Prop 8] goes into effect, the constitution itself says that it goes into effect the day after the election,” she said.
The provision calls for propositions to go into effect the day after the election whether the decision has been officially called or not.
This result has caused distress to many in Davis, which overwhelmingly voted down the proposition.
Liz Fitzgerald, a junior at UC Davis majoring in American Studies, dealt with her disappointment by writing a song.
“I was really depressed,” she said. “I just didn’t know what else to do.“
You can divide the vote, but you can’t divide our love.
The opening lyric to Fitzgerald’s song keyed a No on Prop 8 rally which took place yesterday on the Memorial Union patio. The rally, organized by several groups, including the Women’s Resource Center, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center and the Cross Cultural Center, brought together those disappointed in the outcome of the resolution.
“We live in amazing and interesting times,” said Sarah Raridon, a junior gender studies major who led a march around the Quad.
“On the one hand we have excitement,” she said, referring to Obama being elected President. “On the other hand we have great sadness.“
Raridon called upon the crowd of almost 200 people to use this to their advantage.
“We need to use this moment as a rallying point and say ‘Hey, this is not okay,‘” she said.
Gay-rights advocates in the state have already filed a legal dispute with the proposition, claiming that it isn’t a proper constitutional amendment, but a revision.
“An amendment expands or clarifies,” Jocelyn said. “By contrast a revision is something that affects a fundamental alteration. If it is a revision, it has to go through a more cumbersome process.“
Revisions to the state constitution must pass a two-thirds majority in the state legislature before the public can vote on them.
RICHARD PROCTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.