Reminder to California's black lesbian Senator: Proposition 63 is as unconstitutional as Proposition 8

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

At a certain level, I find the modern focus on “identity” totally gross. We are all so much more than the cursory attributes tangential to our lives, whether it’s skin color, sexual identity, religion, etc. Not all modernity is indicative of human progress, and the recent focus on identity is a good example of regression to a bygone era.


Unfortunately, California Governor Gavin Newsom is obsessed with identity as much as he is with his greasy hair gel, and couldn’t wait to beat that drum when announcing the appointment (archived links) of Laphonza Brown to represent California in the U.S. Senate:

Governor Gavin Newsom Appoints Laphonza Butler to the U.S. Senate

A trusted adviser to Vice President Harris and leader of the nation’s largest organization dedicated to electing women, Butler will make history as California’s first openly LGBTQ United States Senator and the first Black lesbian to openly serve in Congress in American history

SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the selection of Laphonza Butler — the President of the nation’s largest organization dedicated to electing women, EMILY’s List — to complete the United States Senate term of the late Senator Dianne Feinstein, which runs through 2024.

Butler, a longtime senior adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris, labor leader, and advocate for women and working people, will be the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate. She will also be the first Black lesbian to openly serve in Congress in American history and the second Black woman to represent California in the Senate following Vice President Kamala Harris.

“An advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris, Laphonza Butler represents the best of California, and she’ll represent us proudly in the United States Senate,” said Governor Newsom. “As we mourn the enormous loss of Senator Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault. Laphonza will carry the baton left by Senator Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington D.C.”


As my colleague Tom wrote yesterday, gun control groups are celebrating her appointment, and that’s an indication of where Butler will land on gun control. Going back to the topic of “identity,” I hope Laphonza Butler remembers what a clear majority of California voters did in 2008 when they voted for Proposition 8, and wrote the following into the California state constitution: 

“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

It sucks to be a minority whose rights are trampled by a numerical majority, and worse so when that is written into a document as important as your state’s constitution. Fortunately for Butler, the process of judicial review saved her rights, and after waiting for 5 long years, California Proposition 8 was found unconstitutional, allowing relationships like Butler’s to be held legal and on equal footing as every other couple’s.

That’s not where the story ends, however. California’s illiberal electorate — illiberal in the classical sense — repeated their feat by voting for Proposition 63 in 2016, resulting in onerous background checks for buying just a single round of ammunition and banning “high capacity” magazines among other things.

It’s been almost 7 years since, and the judicial process to defend the natural right of Californians to keep and bear arms is still underway. The Ninth Circus is still dragging its feet, gaming judicial procedures in the hope that their dilatory tactics will buy them some luck if the composition of the Supreme Court changes into an anti-Rights majority.


It’s an exercise in futility, but I still hope Sen. Laphonza Butler realizes that her freedom is as precious as ours, that the right to marriage is as much a right for everyone as is the right to keep and bear arms. What was done to her (unsuccessfully in the end) is being to gun owners. Being a minority herself, it will be good if she puts herself in others’ shoes to feel what they’re experiencing.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member