Classroom Discussion Resources for Marriage Equality

California Court Says 'No' to Marriage Equality

Web Exclusive! from Tolerance.org

May 26, 2009 - The California Supreme Court issued its opinion today on the legality of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage.

by Marcos Torres

California high court rules on Prop 8

Proposition 8 changed the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples, eliminating same-sex couples' right to marry. Today the state's Supreme Court issued its opinion on the legality of Proposition 8, deciding the fate of an estimated 18,000 couples who married before the initiative was passed.

The decision is likely to dominate headlines this week. Will it be discussed in your classroom?

For Classroom Discussion

  • How would you feel if the government ruled that your family is no longer a family?
  • Who has the power to create a family? Who has the power to define the meaning of family?
  • The United States Constitution guarantees its citizens the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Does a ban on same-sex marriage violate one's right to pursue happiness? Explain.
  • Does the marriage of a same-sex couple truly threaten heterosexual marriages and families? Explain.
  • What legal rights do couples acquire when they get married? Why is acquiring those rights important to many gay couples?
  • High schools often have some of the most intolerant environments for LGBT students. LGBT clubs that provide sanctuary and community for LGBT students often face discrimination from students, parents, faculty, and administrators. Why?
  • What benefits and challenges would your school face in having a LGBT school club?
  • Interracial marriages were once banned in most American states. (When President Obama's parents got married, their union would have been illegal in half the states in the U.S.) What similarities exist between the movement for interracial marriage and the movement for gay marriage?
  • The majority of voters in California voted to ban gay marriage. In other states, legislative majorities have voted to allow gay marriage. In a democracy, what are proper ways to express dissent when you disagree with the majority?

Additional Resources

Overturn Prop 8
See the Southern Poverty Law Center's legal brief in the Proposition 8 case.

The View From 2008
A year ago, the California court upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry. A look back at Teaching Tolerance's coverage of that decision.

Doing Right, Not Playing It Safe
Just after the 2008 ruling for same-sex marriage, California's Republican chief justice looked at the issue – and found parallels with earlier civil rights movements.

Love Was a Crime
Forty-two years ago, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter Loving risked prison time for marrying outside their race. They stood their ground – and won.

Reach And Teach is committed to working for full equality for LGBTQ people. We will work with Equality California (EQCA), the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Tolerance.org to bring an end to injustice against people based on sexual orientation.

Here's a message from the ACLU:


The Human Rights Campaign released this video today:


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