Californians to decide on repealing Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriage

Welcome to the Thursday, July 20, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Californians to decide on repealing Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriage
  2. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Professor Paru Shah talks school board elections in the latest episode of On the Ballot
  3. Despite increase among Republicans, contested primaries in Mississippi House reach decade-low

Californians to decide on repealing Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriage, in Nov. 2024

On Nov. 5, 2024, California voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would repeal Proposition 8, a 2008 amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The 2024 ballot measure would also add language to the California Constitution stating that “the right to marry is a fundamental right.” 

Currently, 29 states have constitutions that ban same-sex marriage or define marriage as between one man and one woman. Nevada was the first state to repeal a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage with the passage of Question 2 in 2020. It is now the only state to explicitly recognize same-sex marriage in its constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges upholding same-sex marriage rendered state bans unenforceable.

California voters originally approved Proposition 8 52-47%. In 2009, the California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 8 “carved out a limited [or ‘narrow’] exception to the state equal protection clause” and prohibited same-sex marriage under the California Constitution. 

On Aug. 4, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals permitted same-sex marriages in California to begin on June 28, 2013. Although inactive, Proposition 8’s language remained in the state constitution.

The 2024 ballot measure would remove the text of Article 1, Section 7.5 of the California Constitution, which currently states that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” and replace it with the following:

(a) The right to marry is a fundamental right. (b) This section is in furtherance of both of the following: (1) The inalienable rights to enjoy life and liberty and to pursue and obtain safety, happiness, and privacy guaranteed by Section 1. (2) The rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed by Section 7.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said, “Same sex marriage is the law of the land and Prop. 8 has no place in our constitution. It’s time that our laws affirm marriage equality regardless of who you are or who you love.”

California Assemblymember Evan Low (D), who sponsored the proposition, said, “Although, same-sex marriage is legal, it could be temporary. We have to remain vigilant, unwavering in our dedication to equality.”

The California State Legislature unanimously approved the repeal measure. The California State Assembly passed the amendment on June 26, 2023, and the California State Senate passed it on July 13, 2023. To place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in California, a two-thirds (66.67%) vote is required during one legislative session in the Legislature.

The amendment will join six other ballot propositions on the November 2024 ballot. 

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University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Professor Paru Shah talks school board elections in the latest episode of On the Ballot 

On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, takes a closer look at the week’s top political stories.

In this week’s episode, Ballotpedia Staff Writer and Guest Host Doug Kronaizl talks school board elections with Paru Shah, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. 

Shah is regularly interviewed by media outlets on all issues related to Wisconsin politics, and her research has been published in academic journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, and Political Research Quarterly. Much of Shah’s recent work focuses on the political emergence, ambitions, and paths to office for candidates of color and women candidates in local and state elections.

In the episode, Shah talks about her experience serving on her local school board during the COVID-19 pandemic and discusses some of the research she’s conducted on the nationalization of school board elections, particularly in her home state of Wisconsin. 

Shah also discusses her research into conflict elections—school board races where race, health, or gender played a role—and how the partisan and racial makeup of a school district affects the prevalence and outcome of those races. As part of this research, Shah dives into why national topics have become more prominent in school board races and why traditionally nonpartisan school board elections have increasingly become more partisan.

If you’re interested in learning more, tune in! Episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursday afternoons, so if you’re reading this on the morning of July 20, you’ve still got time to subscribe on your favorite podcast app before this week’s episode comes out.

Don’t miss out on the latest content! Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to where you can subscribe.

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Despite increase among Republicans, contested primaries in Mississippi House reach decade-low

Forty-four contested state legislative primaries are coming up on Aug. 8 in the Mississippi House, a decade-low for the chamber.

While the total number of contested primaries is down, the number of contested Republican primaries is at a decade-high. This year, 30 state legislative races have more than one Republican running for the party’s nomination, up from 25 in previous years.

Ballotpedia identified six battleground primaries in the chamber: one between Democrats and five between Republicans.

District 72 is holding one such primary between four Democrats. This district is open, meaning the incumbent is not running.

The Mississippi Clarion Ledger’s Wicker Perlis wrote, “[S]ome of the names of those running may still be familiar to the district’s voters … The four candidates … include those related to prominent local figures.”

Those candidates include:

  1. Justis Gibbs, an attorney and son of the district’s outgoing representative, Debra Gibbs (D);
  2. Synarus Green, who previously worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D) and as chief administrative officer for the City of Jackson; 
  3. Rukia Lumumba, a legal professional, daughter of former Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba (D), and sister of current Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (D); and,
  4. Ailean Stingley, a licensed healthcare professional.

Another battleground, District 23, features a rematch.

Incumbent Perry Van Bailey and Andrew Stepp are running in the district’s Republican primary. The two faced off in a special election on Jan. 10, 2023, when Van Bailey defeated Stepp 50.1% to 49.9% with a margin of seven votes.

Over in District 115, Biloxi City Council President Felix Gines, criminal investigator Zachary Grady, and former Harrison County Republican Club President Phil Harding are running in the Republican primary. This district is open, meaning the incumbent is not running.

Gines was the district’s Democratic nominee in 2019 when he received 48% of the general election vote. He switched parties to become a Republican in 2022 and has received endorsements from the Mississippi Public Education PAC and Biloxi Mayor Andrew Gilich.

Grady received endorsements from the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and the Mississippi Association of Realtors.

Harding received an endorsement from the Mississippi Freedom Caucus.

Mississippi uses a runoff system. If a candidate receives a majority vote in the Aug. 8 primaries, they advance to the general election. Otherwise, the top-two vote-getters advance to a runoff on Aug. 29.

While the outcome of these primaries and runoffs will affect exactly who is in the Mississippi House next year, Republicans are—for the first time in over a century—already guaranteed a majority in the chamber.

Sixty-eight elections have Republican candidates running without Democratic competition, effectively guaranteeing that Republicans will win 56% of the chamber’s 122 seats. Democratic candidates are similarly guaranteed 36 seats, and one is guaranteed to an independent, leaving 20 seats contested between both major parties.

Learn more about the Mississippi House elections and the battleground elections Ballotpedia identified using the link below.

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