.- A massive cross overlooking the city of San Diego is at the center of heated debate which covers issues ranging from property ownership to separation of church and state. The cross, which is part of the Mount Soledad National War Monument, has stood for sixteen years, but last November, residents were asked to vote on Proposition K, an initiative aimed at correcting violations of the state constitution that prohibit the display of religious symbols on state land.
Voters rejected the proposition but the battle continues to rage--fueled by those who are determined to see the cross removed.
In May, a signature-gathering effort led the San Diego City Council to allow a measure called Proposition A, which could allow the land which the cross sits on to be handed over to the U.S. Department of the Interior, making it Federal land, and thereby much less restrictive on land use.
Last Tuesday, residents spoke out, voting 76% in favor of transferring the land ownership and thereby keeping the cross. Reports stated that 100% of the precinct voted.
Charles Limandri of the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which was integral in the battle, said that, “California’s state constitution is a little broader in terms of scrutinizing religious symbols on public property. They'll look at not only whether it is establishing religion but if it’s showing aid to religion; so it could be considered a tougher test. So we think having it under the federal constitution, under the federal national parks makes more sense,”
He added that, “These 10 Commandment displays or crosses on public property — insignias and logos that have literally been there for decades — are truly reflective of an important part of our religious and cultural heritage.”
Although supporters are elated by the win and satisfied that the voting public has spoken their minds in favor of the cross, a number of lawsuits are still pending over whether or not the November vote was legal. If a judge agrees, it could be back to square one for the whole debate.
Two more court dates are scheduled for August 15th and August 12th.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center said, “This is a tremendous victory in an important battle, but the war is not over. The other side has not surrendered; court battles over the cross continue.”