Posts Tagged ‘Proposition 8’

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Supporting Gay Marriage: It’s Not About the Children. Seriously.

08.05.10

Equal Rights is an American ValueCalifornia’s Proposition 8 has just been overturned.

While a huge victory for marriage equality, with many in favor of equality rejoicing in this, the opponents of gay marriage continue their failed arguments that make sense to their personal beliefs but don’t reconcile with the Constitution.

Even after logic, reason, and the law showed that their arguments held no legal water, gay marriage opponents continue with the same tired rationale:

Most people think of marriage as an institution which indicates the strong feelings which two people have for one another. But the state doesn’t have any interest in privileging strong feelings. Rather, the state is interested in the perpetuation of society, which — to again state the obvious — requires procreation.

So what about sterile couples who want to marry?  Should they be banned as well?  Or how about elderly couples who already have kids and don’t plan on (or are too old) to have any more?

But the bigger issue I have for this argument is: since when does the state have any business in my procreative inclinations? Where in the California or U.S. Constitution does it say anything about requiring married couples to have children?  I would like to see some evidence to this strong claim that our government has a vested, legal interest in whether or not its citizens procreate and that this interest is directly tied to the civil institution of marriage.

I believe this blogger at The American Catholic, along with many others who oppose gay marriage rights, is confusing state with church.  When it comes to secular law, (no, we are not a Catholic nation) the Constitution trumps any religious text.

The American Catholic continues:

The ease with which they [gay marriage supporters] threw out bromides (“finally, equality!”) bothered me, primarily because it revealed two things: 1. a group of intelligent people couldn’t grasp that there might be real objections to same sex “marriage”, and 2. as I’ve noted previously, too many (probably most) Americans simply don’t understand the essential nature of marriage.

1. I question just how real those objections are when the person making them lacks the intellectual honesty to avoid snark by putting quotes around the word “marriage” in order to marginalize it and make it seem that its inferior or not even worthy of the word, making it hard to even have an honest discussion on a logical, rational level and not an emotional-only argument.  And when that person raises objections, offers no legal support for said claims (see above re: marriage being a device of the state to insure the procreation of its citizens.)

2. Given that Americans are a group of widely diverse people with all sorts of beliefs, heritages, and customs, to lump them all together as if there’s some universal consensus on something as personal and varied as marriage shows a very closed-minded, narrow, and narcissistic worldview that believes that one’s own views on marriage are the right way and the only way to think.

The reality is that there are religious rules and there are secular laws.  They don’t always match up because we live in a society that allows for the practicing of all faiths.  But our laws are based on equality and fairness.

Change is difficult. Fighting for equal rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution is extremely tough to secure.  But the fight is worthwhile.

Equality will prevail. This is just another step forward.

Photo courtesy of stevebott’s Flickr photostream

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Challenging Prop 8 in Federal Court, Take One

01.11.10

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Today marked the beginning of the federal trial contesting the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in California, which outlawed marriage for homosexual couples.  Below is the opening statement from attorney Ted Olson, arguing on behalf of the couple challenging the proposition.  I just don’t see how any rebuttal holds any water whatsoever.  It’s a case for equal rights.  It’s as American an issue as it gets.  And while this will only be the first in many federal trials and appeals that most likely will end up at the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s a step forward.  Unless you’re blinded by religious fervor, the case for legalizing gay marriage is cut and dried.

Ted Olson:

This case is about marriage and equality.  Plaintiffs are being denied both the right to marry, and the right to equality under the law.

The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly described the right to marriage as “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men;” a “basic civil right;” a component of the constitutional rights to liberty, privacy, association, and intimate choice; an expression of emotional support and public commitment; the exercise of spiritual unity; and a fulfillment of one’s self.

In short, in the words of the highest court in the land, marriage is “the most important relation in life,” and “of fundamental importance for all individuals.”

As the witnesses in this case will elaborate, marriage is central to life in America.  It promotes mental, physical and emotional health and the economic strength and stability of those who enter into a marital union.  It is the building block of family, neighborhood and community.  The California Supreme Court has declared that the right to marry is of “central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society.”

Proposition 8 ended the dream of marriage, the most important relation in life, for the plaintiffs and hundreds of thousands of Californians.

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In May of 2008, the California Supreme Court concluded that under this State’s Constitution, the right to marry a person of one’s choice extended to all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation, and was available equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

In November of 2008, the voters of California responded to that decision with Proposition 8, amending the State’s Constitution and, on the basis of sexual orientation and sex, slammed the door to marriage to gay and lesbian citizens.

The plaintiffs are two loving couples, American citizens, entitled to equality and due process under our Constitution.  They are in deeply committed, intimate, and longstanding relationships.  They want to marry the person they love; to enter into that “most important relation in life”; to share their dreams with their partners; and to confer the many benefits of marriage on their families.

But Proposition 8 singled out gay men and lesbians as a class, swept away their right to marry, pronounced them unequal, and declared their relationships inferior and less-deserving of respect and dignity.

In the words of the California Supreme Court, eliminating the right of individuals to marry a same-sex partner relegated those individuals to “second class” citizenship, and told them, their families and their neighbors that their love and desire for a sanctioned marital partnership was not worthy of recognition.

During this trial, Plaintiffs and leading experts in the fields of history, psychology, economics and political science will prove three fundamental points:

First – Marriage is vitally important in American society.

Second – By denying gay men and lesbians the right to marry, Proposition 8 works a grievous harm on the plaintiffs and other gay men and lesbians throughout California, and adds yet another chapter to the long history of discrimination they have suffered.

Third – Proposition 8 perpetrates this irreparable, immeasurable, discriminatory harm for no good reason.

I

MARRIAGE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RELATION IN LIFE

Plaintiffs will present evidence from leading experts, representing some of the finest academic institutions in this country and the world, who will reinforce what the highest courts of California and the United States have already repeatedly said about the importance of marriage in society and the significant benefits that marriage confers on couples, their families, and the community.  Proponents cannot dispute these basic facts.

While marriage has been a revered and important institution throughout the history of this country and this State, it has also evolved to shed irrational, unwarranted, and discriminatory restrictions and limitations that reflected the biases, prejudices or stereotypes of the past.  Marriage laws that disadvantaged women or people of disfavored race or ethnicity have been eliminated.  These changes have come from legislatures and the courts.  Far from harming the institution of marriage, the elimination of discriminatory restrictions on marriage has strengthened the institution, its vitality, and its importance in American society today.

II

PROPOSITION 8 HARMS GAY AND LESBIAN INDIVIDUALS, THEIR CHILDREN AND THEIR COMMUNITIES

Proposition 8 had a simple, straightforward, and devastating purpose:  to withdraw from gay and lesbian people like the Plaintiffs their previously recognized constitutional right to marry.  The official title of the ballot measure said it all: “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.”

Proponents of Proposition 8 have insisted that the persons they would foreclose from the institution of marriage have suffered no harm because they have been given the opportunity to form something called a “domestic partnership.”  That is a cruel fiction.

Plaintiffs will describe the harm that they suffer every day because they are prevented from marrying.  And they will describe how demeaning and insulting it can be to be told that they remain free to marry—as long, that is, that they marry someone of the opposite sex instead of the person they love, the companion of their choice.

And the evidence will demonstrate that relegating gay men and lesbians to “domestic partnerships” is to inflict upon them badges of inferiority that forever stigmatize their loving relationships as different, separate, unequal, and less worthy—something akin to a commercial venture, not a loving union.  Indeed, the proponents of Proposition 8 acknowledge that domestic partnerships are not the same as traditional marriage.  Proponents proudly proclaim that, under Proposition 8, the “unique and highly favorable imprimatur” of marriage is reserved to “opposite-sex unions.”

This government-sponsored societal stigmatization causes grave psychological and physical harms to gay men and lesbians and their families.  It increases the likelihood that they will experience discrimination and harassment; it causes immeasurable harm.

Sadly, Proposition 8 is only the most recent chapter in our nation’s long and painful history of discrimination and prejudice against gay and lesbian individuals.  They have been classified as degenerates, targeted by police, harassed in the workplace, censored, demonized, fired from government jobs, excluded from our armed forces, arrested for their private sexual conduct, and repeatedly stripped of their fundamental rights by popular vote.  Although progress has occurred, the roots of discrimination run deep and its impacts spread wide.

III

PROPOSITION 8 HARMS GAY AND LESBIAN INDIVIDUALS FOR NO GOOD REASON

Proposition 8 singles out gay and lesbian individuals alone for exclusion from the institution of marriage.  In California, even convicted murderers and child abusers enjoy the freedom to marry.  As the evidence clearly establishes, this discrimination has been placed in California’s Constitution even though its victims are, and always have been, fully contributing members of our society.   And it excludes gay men and lesbians from the institution of marriage even though the characteristic for which they are targeted—their sexual orientation—like race, sex, and ethnicity, is a fundamental aspect of their identity that they did not choose for themselves and, as the California Supreme Court has found, is highly resistant to change.

The State of California has offered no justification for its decision to eliminate the fundamental right to marry for a segment of its citizens.  And its chief legal officer, the Attorney General, admits that none exists.  And the evidence will show that each of the rationalizations for Proposition 8 invented by its Proponents is wholly without merit.

“Procreation” cannot be a justification inasmuch as Proposition 8 permits marriage by persons who are unable or have no intention of producing children.   Indeed, the institution of civil marriage in this country has never been tied to the procreative capacity of those seeking to marry.

Proposition 8 has no rational relation to the parenting of children because same-sex couples and opposite sex couples are equally permitted to have and raise children in California.  The evidence in this case will demonstrate that gay and lesbian individuals are every bit as capable of being loving, caring and effective parents as heterosexuals.  The quality of a parent is not measured by gender but the content of the heart.

And, as for protecting “traditional marriage,” our opponents “don’t know” how permitting gay and lesbian couples to marry would harm the marriages of opposite-sex couples.  Needless to say, guesswork and speculation is not an adequate justification for discrimination.  In fact, the evidence will demonstrate affirmatively that permitting loving, deeply committed, couples like the plaintiffs to marry has no impact whatsoever upon the marital relationships of others.

When voters in California were urged to enact Proposition 8, they were encouraged to believe that unless Proposition 8 were enacted, anti-gay religious institutions would be closed, gay activists would overwhelm the will of the heterosexual majority, and that children would be taught that it was “acceptable” for gay men and lesbians to marry.  Parents were urged to “protect our children” from that presumably pernicious viewpoint.

At the end of the day, whatever the motives of its Proponents, Proposition 8 enacted an utterly irrational regime to govern entitlement to the fundamental right to marry, consisting now of at least four separate and distinct classes of citizens:  (1) heterosexuals, including convicted criminals, substance abusers and sex offenders, who are permitted to marry; (2) 18,000 same-sex couples married between June and November of 2008,  who are allowed to remain married but may not remarry if they divorce or are widowed; (3) thousands of same-sex couples who were married in certain other states prior to November of 2008, whose marriages are now valid and recognized in California; and, finally (4) all other same-sex couples in California who, like the Plaintiffs, are prohibited from marrying by Proposition 8.

There is no rational justification for this unique pattern of discrimination.  Proposition 8, and the irrational pattern of California’s regulation of marriage which it promulgates, advances no legitimate state interest.  All it does is label gay and lesbian persons as different, inferior, unequal, and disfavored.  And it brands their relationships as not the same, and less-approved than those enjoyed by opposite sex couples.  It stigmatizes gays and lesbians, classifies them as outcasts, and causes needless pain, isolation and humiliation.

It is unconstitutional.

Photo courtesy stevebott.

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Maine’s Question 1 = Cali’s Prop 8

09.23.09

Maine voters are getting the chance to legalize gay marriage through the No on 1 campaign, much like the No on Prop 8 battle in California last year.  I only hope that the marriage equality camp does a better job than they did out west and that the voters do what Californians didn’t.  So far, they’re up against an almost identical anti-gay marriage assault.  For any Californian who remembers seeing the ads on TV last year, this should look familiar:

My favorite part: “He’s in SECOND grade!”

The fact that they’re truly scared that their eight-year-old will end up choosing to marry a man later in life because he was taught that it’s legal shows how disgustingly ignorant people still are.  There’s no other way to describe it.  It disgusts me how ignorant and bigoted people still choose to be.

Being gay is not some plague that you can catch.  Your kids will not just happen to become gay because they learned about gay marriage one day in second grade any more than you became a Latino because you took a Spanish class.  To think otherwise is not just uneducated, it’s unintelligent.  It’s not living in reality.

I suppose that’s the biggest problem plaguing issues these days: the lack of people living in reality.  From people believing that Obama was actually born in Kenya to those who truly think that there will be death panels in Obama’s healthcare plan.

They’re called facts, people.  Read them.  Learn something.  It’s time to stop listening to opinion as fact.  I’ve said it before – everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but that doesn’t mean that your opinion is valid outside of your own head.  There is still a reality to contend with and too many opinions passed off as facts these days live far outside the boundaries of the real world.

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Prop 8 Upheld, Equality Not

05.26.09

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A disappointing day to say the least: the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the ban on same-sex marriage.

While no new gay marriages can take place, the marriages that occurred during the summer of 2008 when it was legal will remain valid.  Some point to this as being a minor victory in the long battle.  Others find it to be an insulting consolation prize.

I’m with the latter group.

It makes absolutely NO sense that a couple’s wedding validity is determined by an arbitrary date.  Prop 8 supporters claim that gay marriage destroys the sanctity of the religious union (despite the fact that gay marriage simply changes secular laws, not religious doctrine) but I really can’t see a more egregious way of sucking the meaning out of marriage than saying that if you were united before November 7th, 2008 you can call your partner your spouse, but if it took place after, you’re just out of luck.  Not only has this court decision split people along the lines of sexual orientation, it has also fractured the gay community by having a married, gay couple living next door to a gay domestic partnership simply because one was able to make it to the courthouse before a certain day.

As if there needed be a stronger argument that this all relates to secular marriage laws and not religious tradition.  It’s almost like how Disney will release their classic titles on DVD for only a short period of time and then pull them from the shelves in order to keep demand up.  Hurry, hurry!  Gay marriages available for a limited time only!  Get them before the Supreme Court and the small majority of voters take away your chance to wed the one you love!

Looks like it’s working: demand is up and legislatures across the country are listening and acting.  I hope California rights this wrong.  Sooner rather than later.

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Overturning Prop 8: A Plea for Love and Tolerance

03.04.09

California’s Proposition 8 should never have even been a ballot upon which people could vote.  Ideally the majority of Americans would realize that discrimination should be eradicated wherever it rears its ugly head, but come on;  this is the same country where Rush Limbaugh is the figurehead of a political party.  The same country that didn’t allow blacks or women the right to vote less than 90 years ago.  Do you think women would’ve won the right to vote if it had been put to a majority vote?  Give me a break.  They didn’t win that right until the courts stepped in.

And that’s what will have to happen for gays to have the right to marry.

But this is about more than just being able to call each other legal spouses.  This about fairness and equality.  Call it what you want: partnership, civil union, marriage.  The end game is that someone’s love of his life can be with him on his deathbed without the hospitals stepping in and saying that only “family” is allowed.  So that a woman’s female partner can be included on her insurance policy.  That a child can still be with her parent after her gay father dies.

I really don’t understand how people can reconcile the bigotry that they’re supporting with their own beliefs that they’re being ethical and righteous.  It’s a sad state of affairs and showcases the need for a much smaller influence of religion in secular decision making.  Some religions may state that homosexuality is a sin.  But some also say that eating pork is, too, and you don’t see us outlawing bacon.  Others say that it’s customary to cut hands off thieves.  You don’t see us doing that, either.

If you live in California, please support the overturning of Proposition 8 on Thursday, March 5th.  If you can’t be there (like myself), do your part and spread the word of tolerance and love.  Life is too short to be denying people the right to be happy.  Let’s put aside 2000 year old doctrine and follow the real teachings of do unto others.   I’m holding out hope.

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Proposition 8 Proponents Forced Out of the “Closet”

01.31.09

I wish I knew how to feel about this.

Perhaps I’m already numb to the menality of those who supported Proposition 8.  Or maybe I already expect so little from them that this doesn’t surprise me.  Either way, it’s an interesting development in the ongoing marriage equality battle, and one that seems to give a point to the pro-equality side.  Finally.

It turns out that those who voted in favor of 8 want to avoid their names from being disclosed.  Unfortunately for them, a federal judge thought otherwise.

Prop 8 proponents supposedly fear “the potential for harassment.”  Of course, harassment means organized boycotts of business owners.  It’s insulting that they’re insinuating that they fear for their safety since there hasn’t exactly been a long history of gay-on-straight violence.  If only boycotts had been the extent of the “harassment” felt by countless homosexuals over the years.

During the campaign they claimed to be protecting the sanctity of marriage.  Now it comes across like they’re ashamed of their vote.  They must realize that they did in fact vote to take away people’s rights and now don’t want to be known publicly as such.  Perhaps their own outing of sorts brings home that feeling of shame and fear that their bigotry has forced homosexuals to endure for so long.  I’d like to think that’s what it will take for people to see through the thinly veiled propaganda and see it for what it is, plain and simple: discrimination.

Even if some eyes are opened from this, there’s still a long road ahead on the journey toward equality.

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Why Proposition 8 Failed

01.26.09

The leaders of the No on Prop 8 movement gathered together at a summit last week to plan for the future and also to look back on the misteps of the previous push toward marriage equality.  The article shows that even amongst those involved in the campaign, there are different ideas on how best to reach the undecided voters.  My favorite part was a quote from unplanned speaker Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:

“In 1994, I first began to stand up on the floor of the Legislature and talk about these issues, and talk about that this was the last frontier of the civil rights movement, that this was the only area where people of conscience, people who think they’re not bigoted in any way, feel like they can discriminate … feel like they can say no to you for a job, no for housing … say no to this community and equality of rights when it came to domestic partnerships, and now equality of marriage,” Villaraigosa said.

“We know it’s time to say: ‘Yes. Yes, we can. Yes, we will,'” he said. “I’m going to stand with you every step along the way … not because it’s popular (but) because it’s the right thing for us to do.”

(The italics are mine.)

Villaraigosa really captures the mentality of the Yes on 8 voters that I experienced last fall.  I don’t know how many conversations I had with people who recoiled in horror at the thought that their anti-gay marriage opinions were bigotted in any way, shape, or form.  It felt like if you threw out the “bigot” term at someone, it was worse than whatever the person had said to merit the title.  As if “bigot” is a slur.

You’ve heard the arguments: being gay is an immoral lifestyle choice, gay marriage infringes upon my religious freedom and ruins the sanctity of marriage, I don’t want homosexuality taught to my kids.  But it all comes down to the same distinct desire: to deny rights to another group of Americans based only on their sexual preference. Because their specific, PERSONAL belief set tells them that being gay is a sin.

Perhaps these people are not bigots through and through, but the reasoning behind their stance on Proposition 8 (and, let’s be honest, homosexuals in general) must be defined as bigoted.  It says so in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary:

Bigoted

Big”ot*ed, a. Obstinately and blindly attached to some creed, opinion practice, or ritual; unreasonably devoted to a system or party, and illiberal toward the opinions of others

Unreasonable is putting it nicely.  Irrational and unbelievable is more like it.