Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Same-sex marriage is about more than "I do"

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.

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.
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.

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, to
include the following subjects:

. . .

(D) Family health and child development, including the legal and
financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.
It 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.

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.


Anonymous Wayne said...

I have linked to your post from Yes on Prop 8 with non-Californian's help, prayer and fasting

People outside of California can Help ... Although, ostensibly, Proposition 8 has no effect beyond California’s borders, activists on both sides of the marriage debate say whatever happens in November will have profound ramifications on the rest of the country.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

Bill May's article is right on target. Although opponents of Proposition #8 claim that this amendment will take away their rights is mis-leading. Under Family Law 297.5, it delineates that "domestic partners" shall enjoy all rights, benefits and statutes of a heterosexual marriage. Look it up, the law is online. They evidently want to change historical and biblical definitions of marriage.

A domestic partnership will never be a heterosexual marriage no matter what our Supreme Court ruled. Therein lies the confusion with marriage licenses, etc. Proposition #8 is about common sense not denying anybody of their rights nor disrespecting anybody because of their sexual orientation.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008 2:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Buckley Jeppson said...

I appreciate the concern parents have about their young children being taught values they do not believe are correct. This has always been a concern on hundreds of other issues. There is room for addressing those concerns without taking away the constitutional right to marriage equality. Our parents fought against allowing examples of interracial marriage in California schools when I was growing up--on religious grounds. "It will encourage children to marry outside their race and soon there will be no differences between the races!" Today that argument sounds silly. Perhaps in 20 years we will all see the absurdity of "It will encourage all our children to be gay" argument. I recommend voting against Proposition 8. Separate is never equal.

Thursday, October 02, 2008 1:26:00 PM  
Blogger Seth said...

A great article and powerful way to explain what many voters are still confused on. Proposition 8 is really essential to Californians and Americans. Not because we are self promoting bigots, but because Marriage is worth protecting. Thanks for the great work here on hedgehog. I am linking your great site to mine at Yes on Proposition 8, California 2008. Great work

Friday, October 03, 2008 3:15:00 PM  
Blogger CRFTL8E said...

I appreciated reading this article and especially appreciated the links you included. I hope that people who have not yet decided how to vote on Prop. 8 in California will stumble upon this (and other blogs like it) before making up their minds.

Thank you for saying so well what so many of us in this great country are thinking! To say that marriage between a man and a woman and marriage between two people of the same sex is the same is just so patently false, that I can't believe we are even having a discussion about it.

It's not about people loving each other -- it's about appreciating, valuing, and respecting the union and commitment of a man and a woman to join together in creating a new family. I am saddened that so many in our society don't seem to value this anymore. Fortunately, though, there ARE many who still do. Let's be sure that we all unite to save marriage. YES on Proposition 8!

Monday, October 06, 2008 1:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vote NO on Prop 8

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 3:24:00 PM  
Blogger alesian said...

This is Alesian,a domestic partnership will never be a heterosexual marriage no matter what our Supreme Court ruled.

Visit - Instant Social Sex Networking and Amateur Video Chat Rooms

Monday, October 20, 2008 8:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve M said...

All the Noise, Noise, Noise!

No matter how loudly and often supporters of same gender marriage attack proponents of traditional marriage, the simple irrefutable fact is that same gender marriage and traditional marriage are not identical, and never will be. Period. Regardless of what happens in the California election.

And no matter what proponents of traditional marriage say, opponents will scream its opposite. I am amazed at the sheer volume of hateful and intolerant comments made by opponents of Proposition 8. To me, this speaks volumes about where bigotry, discrimination, and hate truly exist – in the hearts of people who express themselves with such rage and venom, regardless of their political or sexual persuasion.

So what really is the core issue? Is it equal rights? Is it social acceptance of homosexuality? And what about the children?

Equal Rights

In the majority opinion written by Chief Justice Ronald George overturning the voter approved statute defining marriage as between a man and a woman, he stated that “California . . . in recent years has enacted comprehensive domestic partnership legislation under which a same-sex couple may enter into a legal relationship that affords the couple virtually all of the same substantive legal benefits and privileges, and imposes upon the couple virtually all of the same legal obligations and duties, that California law affords to and imposes upon a married couple.”

Furthermore, in that same opinion, he also wrote, "from the beginning of California statehood, the legal institution of civil marriage has been understood to refer to a relationship between a man and a woman . . . and the marriage statute adopted by the California Legislature during its first session clearly assumed that the marriage relationship necessarily involved persons of the opposite sex.” Hmmmm . . .

The California Family Code, in Section 297.5, paragraphs a, b, and c (which are identical, except for the references in parentheses) clarifies the legal rights and responsibilities of registered domestic partners are entitled to in California. “Registered (and former registered, and surviving registered) domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses (and former spouses, and a widow or widower).

California’s voter information guide contains arguments and rebuttals for both sides of the argument. In the rebuttal to the argument in favor of Proposition 8, opponents wrote, “California statutes clearly identify nine real differences between marriage and domestic partnerships.”

What are these differences? Be specific people, don’t just throw up a smoke screen, wave your arms, and cry foul. If you want to solve the equal rights problem, say exactly what the specific needs are so that legislation can be passed that will provide the specific liberties being sought. Equality California is a leading organization founded in 1998 to pursue equal rights for homosexual people in California. The organization’s website states that, “In the past 10 years, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. In the past decade, EQCA has successfully passed more than 45 pieces of civil rights legislation for the LGBT community – more than any other statewide LGBT organization in the nation. Most sections of California law prohibit discrimination based on a long list of protected classes, including sexual orientation, gender and gender identity. LGBT Californians are protected from discrimination in securing employment and housing, accessing government services and participating in state-funded activities. LGBT people are also protected under the state’s hate crime law.” This organization, and many others like it, is not going to go away, so it is safe to assume that they will continue to pursue equal rights for LGBT individuals in California until true legal equality is achieved. No problem. It’s already in process.

Social Acceptance of Homosexuality

Opponents of Proposition 8 claim that they are not looking for societal acceptance of homosexuality, they simply want homosexuals to be free to marry the person they love. If true equality under law can be achieved for both traditional married couples and civil unions between same gender couples, and if there are only nine differences that remain to be legislated, then the discrimination argument can be resolved equitably in the near future. Same gender couples can then truly receive all the benefits and responsibilities of traditionally married couples in every respect EXCEPT in name. Will that be acceptable to the LGBT community? If so, then let’s settle this mess and get on with other pressing business. If not, then it reveals the lie about what is opponents of Proposition are really seeking - societal acceptance of homosexuality. And on this subject, the people have every right to vote and determine what society should accept or not accept without being called a bigot or homophobe.

Let the voice of the people decide! But separate the two issues – equal rights and societal acceptance. Opponents KNOW that if the issues were separate, they would FAIL. Many people are just plain disgusted with and tired of hearing about gays and homosexuality. They object to being told, “It’s going to happen now, whether you like it or not.” Thus, opponents focus the spotlight on the “fairness” and “equality” arguments, and sweep the issue of societal acceptance under the carpet. Yet the societal acceptance is insidious. It has the real potential to create problems that are just beginning to be seen in places that have legalized same gender marriage.

The Future

All over the Internet, you can read articles claiming that proponents of Proposition 8 are using scare tactics and outright lies about its implications on children to win its passage. In researching this subject, I found that there have been many efforts over the years to pass California laws having to do with the promotion of homosexuality in our schools. Some few have passed, but the majority failed. I am surprised that few have publicly observed that the failure of most of these measures to pass was likely related to California’s recognition at the time that marriage was between a man and a woman. In other words, that definition, which became California law when voters passed it overwhelmingly in 2000, was an important bulwark in the legal defense of striking down proposed legislation that would mandate same gender education of our young children. That fence has been blown down now, as it were, by the May 2008 judicial fiat. If Proposition 8 does not pass, will the proposals for new legislation mandating exposing our children to increased education about LGBT issues cease? What does history already show? Any rational adult will recognize that if anything, such efforts will ONLY INCREASE, and find greater likelihood of passage. Scare tactics? We are talking about the future of our children here.

To those who say that children in schools will not be affected by the defeat of Proposition 8, I say, what makes you a prophet? After the recent catastrophic global economic meltdown, former financial demigod Alan Greenspan has now admitted a fundamental error in his beliefs about the issue of deregulation in our banking and financial system that was a major factor in the economic collapse. OOPS! That mess has been totally devastating to millions of people, and will take years to clean up. We are all affected, and will be for many years to come. The multitudinous ramifications of legalized same gender marriage won’t be fully understood or visible for years, but by then it may be too late to prevent major problems that can affect everyone in California. To even think otherwise is to be blind to real life. Take a look at what is already happening where same sex marriage was legalized years ago, and you can see some of the harbingers.

Discrimination, which is often used to mean unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice, is wrong. But the word discrimination also means to discern qualities and recognize the differences between things. By this definition, we all discriminate every day as a necessary part of making decisions. And recognizing the qualities and differences between traditional and same gender marriage should not mean that we are all forced to equalize them. Some allowances should be made for the differences. In this regard, California already has the most tolerant and non-discriminatory laws regarding same gender couples that can be found anywhere in the U.S. Proposition 8 will not change this. If there are more laws that need to be passed to provide true equality, then let’s get them out in the open, deal with them, and stop the arm waving and name calling. California has already proven that it is willing to provide equal rights. We can maintain this tradition without redefining marriage for everyone just because a tiny fraction of the population really, really wants to.

I believe we need to be tolerant, respectful, non-discriminatory, sensitive, and loving towards those of same gender persuasion (see, no name calling or rage), but without accepting same sex unions as being socially equal to the institution of traditional male-female marriage. That’s why I will vote Yes on Proposition 8.

Saturday, October 25, 2008 7:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just becuz that happened in Massachusetts, it doesn't mean it'll happen in California. Only time will tell. Using schools and students is just a great strategy to denying gay couples their right to marry. what better way to show someone tat you're committed and truly in love

Sunday, November 02, 2008 9:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if same sex marriage is ever taught in school, i wouldn't disagree in any way. at least we could count on a new generation of tolerant,understanding human beings.

Sunday, November 02, 2008 9:39:00 AM  

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