On Thursday, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments about whether Judge Vaughn R. Walker should have disclosed his sexual orientation before hearing Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the Proposition 8 case.
Inspired by that news story, someone, somewhere shared on Facebook an old Huffington Post article declaring "Prop 8 OVERTURNED."
The original publish date for the article is 8/4/2010, but that did not stop dozens of my Facebook friends, and likely hundreds outside of my circle of friends, from sharing the Huffington Post article as if it was news this week.
One friend exclaimed, "Finally we won!"
Another wrote, "Gays and lesbians can get married in California! Let's Celebrate!"
It went on like this for days.
This was an accidental experiment in human behavior. People clearly don't pay close enough attention to details like when an article was published. Others probably shared the article without even clicking through to read the content of the article.
Mob mentality helped spread this mistruth as well. Since so many people were sharing the article, people assumed it must be current.
While normally a gaff like this might be funny, I am concerned that our community and our friends actually think the Prop 8 trial is over - that we won.
While we did win the U.S. District Court case - in 2010 - the case is still moving slowly through the court system. Gays and lesbians are still denied the opportunity to marry the person of their choice in California.
On Thursday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the final day of arguments before issuing their opinion. The court can issue their opinion any day now. Experts expect them to move quickly.
From there, whoever loses will appeal the case to the United States Supreme Court. Some hope the court will refuse to hear the case if the Ninth rules in our favor, leaving the lower court's ruling intact, thereby giving gays and lesbians the opportunity to marry in California more quickly, and avoiding a potential loss at the Supreme Court if Kennedy (the swing vote on the court) is not ready to side with us.
If the Supreme Court does hear the case, we hope the court will uphold Judge Walker's opinion, thereby ushering in a return to marriage for gays and lesbians in California, and creating a precedent for future cases dealing with same sex marriage.
If you or your friends thought the Prop 8 trial ended this week, spend some time with the American Foundation for Equal Rights' website to study one of the important trials of our lifetime, so you can be a source of current information for your friends and family the next time this trial is in the news. You can also sign up for text alerts on their site, so you can get up-to-date information from a primary source directly involved in the case.
While these renewed celebrations may have felt good, they were more than a year late, and incredibly misleading. Perhaps you should share this blog post now, so your friends know the marathon is still not over.