Associate News Editor
Carlos Moreno, associate justice of the California Supreme Court, spoke to an audience of around 65 guests about the “Evolution of Family in California” and discussed the future for same sex marriages.
On Wednesday Moreno lectured on family dynamics from a legal perspective as a part of the dedication week for Morgan Auditorium.
“Long ago, our forefathers held the truth that all men were created equal,” Moreno said. “But our history view has changed overtime and laws have changed in response.”
Following his nomination by Gov. Gray Davis, Moreno was sworn in as associate justice of the California Supreme Court in October 2001. After leaving the court, Moreno had over nine years of experience and over 24 years of experience as a judge.
Received with a standing ovation from the audience, Moreno began with the first backlashes at restrictions on marriage.
Moreno brought the audience back to 1967 where 16 states prohibited interracial marriages. These unconstitutional bans were later overturned and now people, like President Obama, are products of what was previously a forbidden union.
“Sixty years after broadening the terms of marriage through legalizing interracial marriage, it has been narrowed and limited to same sex couples.” Moreno said.
In 2008 California voters passed Proposition 8 which only recognized marriage between a man and a woman as legal by law. This amendment was passed by a simple majority vote, but whether this measure is constitutional is currently being fought in the Supreme Court.
Moreno said that research has been done to prove that heterosexual couples are in no way affected by their gay neighbors’ right to marry. Denying same-sex couples and their families the right to marry robs them of their dignity and makes them second class citizens.
“Promising equal treatment to some is different from promising equal treatment to all,” Moreno said.
“California law affects everyone, and to have a person from the highest court, there is nothing better than this amazing experience,” Nguyen Hoan, a third year law student, said.
Moreno brought his experience in the court system by giving detailed examples to support his argument. He mentioned three separate cases in 2006 that further defined parental rights in lesbian relationships. Recognizing parenting rights for lesbian couples later set the stage for answering the question whether same sex couples should have the right to marry.
“Giving the history of progression of equal rights gave solid examples for his case,” Nicholas Weeks, senior criminology major said.
One audience member asked if the issue was simply a matter of words: marriage versus domestic partners.
Moreno agreed the issue is a matter of title; however, words have meaning he said. If the position was to switch and heterosexual couples could only be domestic partners they would heartily disagree with the title.
Although same sex couples enjoy some rights as heterosexual partnerships, denying them the right to the marriage title is denying them equal protection of the law Moreno said.
Monique Guzman, a junior psychology major said that Moreno was able to provide understandable information which contributed to the overall success of the lecture.
“The nature of what is a family and what makes up a family will continue to evolve and changes will be made,” Moreno said. “These changes will be done either by voters or the courts.”
Amanda Nieto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.