News Flash: California is Not as Progressive as We Thought

Dusty Cayssials

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California is known as being a liberal state setting the stage for social progression. After the results from the 2012 election, it appears that maybe California may no longer be a leader in the social reform frontier.

People associate California as being a state for the rights of the gay and lesbian community. It has been a leader in the movement toward equality for all.

San Francisco was the home of the first lesbian-rights organization in 1955 as well as the world’s first transgender organization in 1966.

Harvey Milk of San Francisco was the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States, appointed in 1976.

Berkeley also puts California on the progressive front by being the first city to adopt a same-sex partnership ordinance granting same sex couples recognition key in allowing them to have the same courtesies as hetero couples.

California gay rights progression came to a stand still in March of 2000 when proposition 22 was enacted restricting marriage to those between a man and a woman.

Although Propostion 22 was struck down in May of 2008 for not coinciding with the California Declaration of State Rights, another road block in the form of Proposition 8 passed. Propostion 8 added a provision to the Declaration of State rights that only marriages between men and woman are valid.

Today, Proposition 8 is still in the appeals process having been overturned in the US District Court in 2010 and then affirmed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. An appeal has moved to the Supreme Court and is still waiting review. Until that decision is made, California is in a stalemate with gay marriage rights.

The recent election put Maine, Maryland and Minnesota in the spotlight. Maine and Maryland legalized same sex marriage and Minnesota struck down an amendment that would have defined a marriage as being between a man and woman.

Maine is the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage through and initiative brought on by its citizens while Minnesota was the first state to beat an amendment supported by the National Organization for Marriage.

Maine, Maryland and Minnesota move forward leaving California in their dust.

California also fell behind in the cannabis frontier after the results of the 2012 election. Colorado and Washington state both passed laws that allow recreational use of cannabis.

Initiative 502 (Washington) and Amendment 64 (Colorado) have different terms but they propel the states ahead of California who in 2010, voted against legalization of the drug.

It’s hard to believe that a state that houses America’s first cannabis college and Humboldt County, is not the forerunner in the legalization of marijuana.

Capitol punishment is another area that California fails to move forward. The death penalty has been an ongoing struggle for California having been declared cruel and unusual punishment in 1972 by the California Supreme Court.

The small victory for the liberal population was short lived when the death penalty was reinstated five years later.

Connecticut was the most recent state to repeal the death penalty after the 2012 election. California’s Proposition 34 would have repealed the death penalty as well but if fell short in the polls.

With the Golden State failing in three areas of social reform, it can be said that California is not as progressive as it once was.

The latest election just highlights how California has become stagnant in the areas in which it had once been a leader.