Angry residents want sheriff out

One of my favorite political analysts surmises that one reason Mayor Ed Lee has not removed Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office, despite the fact he has been accused of domestic violence and witness tampering, is because Lee doesn’t want to empower the contingent of people who think Mirkarimi is being victimized because of politics.

Still, people feel strongly about this issue.

“Mirkarimi’s political life is finished and he should resign,” Democratic strategist Nathan Ballard told me. “He’s like Bruce Willis in “The Sixth Sense” — everybody knows that Ross Mirkarimi is dead except Ross Mirkarimi.” Ouch!

Indeed, the unwillingness to budge by either Lee or Mirkarimi has left enterprising San Franciscans to our own devices to express displeasure with the fact that Mirkarimi still carries a badge (but no gun) and oversees our jails.

There is a Recall Ross page on Facebook. And a Toss Ross petition on Finally, the domestic violence shelter La Casa de las Madres is raising money on for a billboard that would reference Mirkarimi’s deplorable statement that whatever happened on New Year’s Eve — when the abuse against his wife is alleged to have taken place — is a “private matter, a family matter.” The billboard would say, “Domestic violence is NEVER a private matter.”

Mirkarimi’s trial begins in a few weeks. And depending on what it reveals, voters may resort to an old-fashioned killer app: a recall election to remove our sheriff. I spoke with Elections Department Director John Arntz, who explained the effort to gather the 47,000 or so signatures that would be needed to put a recall measure on the ballot can’t officially commence until after July 9. Until then, San Franciscans are fortunate to be surrounded with ways to speak our minds, whether it be on virtual billboards or real ones.

Prop. 8 appeal not guaranteed to reach US Supreme Court

The heart of the recent ruling striking down our state’s ban on same-sex marriage is on the very first page, where it reads, “Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”

Ultimately, this is the problem Prop. 8
supporters will run into time and time again. There really is no justification for limiting the state institution of marriage to heterosexual couples. Just as the California  Supreme Court did in 2008, this recent ruling dismissed the pro-Prop. 8 arguments as specious and irrational.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to even consider allegations that banning same-sex marriage advances California’s “interest in childbearing and responsible procreation” because Prop. 8 didn’t affect the state laws that allow same-sex couples to raise children, adopt and even be foster parents. In other words, even if it were true children are better off as the offspring of Ward and June Cleaver, Prop. 8 backers don’t get to rely on it as a justification for limiting marriage, because the gay marriage ban didn’t change the parental rights of homosexual couples.

As for the notion marriage is intended for heterosexual couples because it creates a sacred bond that encourages “responsible procreation,” the judges held that limiting marriage does nothing to further that goal, so there’s no need to even evaluate whether it is true. Although I think that would be one highly amusing hearing. Jerry Springer could testify about responsible child-bearing and Kim Kardashian could discuss the sanctity of marriage between heterosexual couples.

Similarly, the justices did away with the “freedom of religion” and “protect our students” arguments by pointing out neither same-sex marriage nor Prop. 8 affected the practices of any religious institution or school system.

Note that one justice — N. Randy Smith — disagreed with the majority ruling on the grounds that the state’s “interest in childbearing and responsible procreation” is not “wholly irrelevant” to Prop. 8. Not exactly a ringing endorsement even from the lone supporter.

Despite all this, proponents of the ban are optimistic about appealing this case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court doesn’t just take every case. Thousands of people apply each year to have their cases heard, and the court only agrees to hear about a hundred. In this case, the 9th Circuit justices took a year to write the 128 pages of opinion and dissent. They were careful to make it only apply to California and the peculiar situation where voters removed a right to marry that already existed.

I’m not at all convinced the backers of Prop. 8 will be able to provide a legitimate justification for the Supreme Court to hear the case when they can’t even provide one for why the law is worth protecting.


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