Education

Prop. 8 School Messages Figure in Ruling Against Measure

By Mark Walsh — August 04, 2010 1 min read

Proponents of the 2008 California constitutional amendment that bars same-sex marriage played on fears that schools would be required to teach children that gay marriage was OK if the ballot inititiave was defeated, a federal judge concludes as part of his ruling Wednesday striking down the measure.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker of San Francisco held that Proposition 8 violates the due-process and equal-protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“The Proposition 8 campaign relied on fears that children exposed to the concept of same-sex marriage may become gay or lesbian,” Judge Walker wrote in his 138-page opinion in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. “The reason children need to be protected from same-sex marriage was never articulated in official campaign advertisements. Nevertheless, the advertisements insinuated that learning about same-sex marriage could make a child gay or lesbian and that parents should dread having a gay or lesbian child.”

Judge Vaughn quoted two pro-Proposition 8 strategists who described in a magazine article after the measure won that focus groups and surveys led them to create campaign messages focusing on, in one of the strategist’s words, “how this new ‘fundamental right’ would be inculcated in young children through public schools.”

The judge also cited a pro-Prop. 8 campaign advertisement quoting a school-age girl saying, “At school today, I was told that I could marry a princess too.” In the ad, the girl’s mother displays an expression of horror.

Judge Vaughn rejected arguments from the Proposition 8 opponents that such messages were meant solely to raise concerns that students would be taught about same-sex marriage as early as 1st or 2nd grade.

“The evidence shows ... that Proposition 8 played on a fear that exposure to homosexuality would turn children into homosexuals and that parents should dread having children who are not heterosexual,” the judge wrote.

He ultimately concludes that Prop. 8 “fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”

“Indeed,” the judge added, “the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than
enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”

The decision is expected to be appealed.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read