Bill May's San Francisco Chronicle Op-ed
Bill May is chairman of Catholics for the Common Good, "a nonpartisan Catholic organization focusing on issues related to the social teachings of the Catholic Church." He has written this piece in the San Francisco Chronicle today. It's a short, well-written summary of the key reasons to support California's Proposition 8. Mr. May begins:
Marriage in California isn't just about the rights of loving and committed gay couples. If that were the issue, Proposition 8 wouldn't be on the state ballot. All Californians respect the right of gay couples to live the lifestyle they choose and to enjoy the same legal protections of every citizen. California's laws, including our expansive domestic partnership statutes, already provide every legal right to gay couples that are provided to married spouses.Read the whole thing. May's op-ed is brief; he lacks the space to go into much detail, but every point he makes can be substantiated.
The California Supreme Court's ruling last May gave birth to a broader perspective on same-sex marriage, and that is how it affects the rest of society. That's why Proposition 8 is on the ballot, and that is why we are working hard to pass it.
California's Education Code Section 51890 and Parker v. Hurley
For example, May refers to a 2007 federal court decision arising out of Massachusetts. The case is Parker v. Hurley. By 2007, Massachusetts had been living for four years with a 2003 decision by that state's Supreme Court, which, like California's high court, had discovered that same-sex marriage is a right under that state's constitution.
In Parker, a teacher had taught a second-grade class using a book telling the story of a prince who married another prince, rather than a princess. Some parents complained, asking to be allowed to opt out of such instruction until their children were in the seventh grade. When the school district refused, the parents sued in federal court.
They lost. The opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is right here. It is 43 pages long, but if you read pages 5-11 you will see described the very situation that many concerned California voters and parents fear will occur in our state.
Why? Because like Massachusetts, we have a statute, Education Code Section 51890, which requires:
(1) Pupils will receive instruction to aid them in making decisions in matters of personal, family, and community health, toIt is not difficult at all to imagine California schools using the "two princes" story, or one like it, for second-graders here, just as the story was used in Massachusetts.
include the following subjects:
. . .
(D) Family health and child development, including the legal and
financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.
In fact, the Los Angeles Unified School District has already passed a resolution opposing Proposition 8. If, like me, you wonder why a school district would take a position on a ballot proposition that seeks to define marriage, you might also worry that LAUSD will engage in the same kind of instruction that the Massachusetts school district did in Parker v. Hurley. After all, Education Code Section 51890 does require California schools to teach children about marriage, from kindergarten forward.
Consider the Consequences
These are real concerns, held by responsible, thoughtful, compassionate people who care about what their children are taught, and when it is taught to them. When you see proponents of Prop 8 called "extremists," think about Parker v. Hurley and ask yourself: Is it "extreme" to be concerned about such laws and such court decisions? Is there any reason not to expect similar instruction in California public schools, and similar results from California courts?
A video interview with the parents in the Parker case is here. Watch it and see if you think it's outlandish to believe that without Prop 8, such battles will be part of our future in California.
The fact is, if Proposition 8 is not passed and the California Supreme Court's decision is allowed to stand, there will be consequences. This is undeniable. What also seems certain is that we cannot be certain what those consequences will be. The Parker v. Hurley scenario is only one possible consequence. We'll post about some others in the coming days.