Pastor Says Politics Threatens California's Proposition 8

A San Diego pastor who successfully galvanized statewide support last fall to ban gay marriage in California says recent legal maneuvers by California Attorney General Jerry Brown aimed at overturning Proposition 8 are mostly motivated by political ambition.

"Everyone knows this is political," said Jim Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego. "The real key here is [Brown] is posturing himself to gain an adequate base because he wants to run for governor again."

Following November elections Brown appeared unwilling to attack the judicial validity of the voter-passed Proposition 8. Garlow said Brown had an "epiphany" last month. "To win [the governorship], he will have to look further left than his [pro-gay marriage] opponent from San Francisco," he said.

Garlow said he and the members of "Protect Marriage – Yes on 8," a broad coalition that mobilized votes in favor of Proposition 8 last fall, are very concerned about the fate of Proposition 8. He said traditional marriage supporters have been "losing the PR war" ever since Brown filed a brief with the Supreme Court last month claiming the same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional because it violated the "inalienable or natural rights" of the population.

"We're supposedly extinguishing the 'fundamental rights' of [gay people]," Garlow said. "That would mean that for virtually every culture and every society over the past 5,000 years, we have been denying the fundamental right [to gay marriage]. It means [Brown] somehow has a grasp on the definition of what fundamental human rights are."

Proposition 8 passed in November with 52 percent of vote, overriding a state Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in May. Garlow credited fasting and prayer for the traditional values victory on Nov. 4, while anti-Christian violence raged nationwide in the aftermath of the elections.

Garlow said activists on both sides of the gay marriage debate are passionate because they know what's at stake. "When you redefine marriage for a few you have redefined it for all," he said. "If the government has a compelling interest in somehow defending same-sex marriage, they would, by definition, have to silence or fine or sentence or incarcerate people who do not accept it in their personal lives, in the teaching of their children, in their businesses, in their churches. ... People with biblical values left in them will not only become marginalized but they would become functionally illegal [for opposing gay marriage]."

On Monday, Protect Marriage lawyers filed a brief claiming Brown was inviting the California Supreme Court to declare "a constitutional revolution."

"The [attorney general's] argument is not only unprecedented but contradicts the most basic understanding of the role of the judiciary in a constitutional democracy," the attorneys said in a legal brief co-written by Whitewater prosecutor and Pepperdine Law School Dean Kenneth W. Starr. "His extra-constitutional vision is one of unprecedented judicial hegemony, a sweeping power vested in the least-democratic branch that overrides the precious right of the people to determine how they will be governed."

A hearing could be held as early as March. Starr, former U.S. Solicitor General and a former judge on the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, will argue the case on behalf of Protect Marriage.

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