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Lukewarm Opposition to Proposition 8

In a comment to my post on the absence of a serious debate on marriage in the campaign against Proposition 8, a reader asked, “to hear your reasons why you support same sex marriage or don’t, and your reasons why you support Prop. 8 or don’t.

While I have some concerns with the campaign against the initiative and have some sympathy for the arguments of some of its proponents, I plan on voting “No” on 8 next Tuesday.

I want to see the state Supreme Court decision mandating gay marriage overturned. At the same time, I don’t want the traditional definition of marriage enshrined in the state Constitution. But, the only way to overturn that decision is to amend the constitution.  We can’t achieve one without the other.

Hence, my lukewarm opposition.  The constitution will remain free of the offending clause.  A bad decision will stand.

Simply put, I don’t believe it’s the province of the judiciary to decide the qualifications for marriage in a particular state.  That responsibility belongs to the legislature and, here, in the Golden State given our liberal initiative policies, to the people.

In 2000, the people voted overwhelmingly to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman (Proposition 22).  Fewer than five years later, the California legislature voted to recognize gay marriage.  Instead of defying the people they served, our legislators should have referred the matter back to them, asking citizens to repeal 22.

Had the citizens done so, then the legislature could have taken up the issue.

In some ways, I see Proposition 8 as our chance to weigh in on 22.   I vote “No” on 8, as I would have voted “Yes” to repeal 22.

So, if we do defeat 8, then the people will indeed have voted for gay marriage.  It would not have just been the court mandating social change.

And yes, gay marriage does represent a significant social change.  I tire of those silly gay marriage activists who claim it doesn’t involve changing the institution.  You’d have to be blind not to see as much.  When any gay person over 30 was growing up, he didn’t see all that many couple couples living openly, much less calling their unions marriage.

For, as long as we’ve had recorded evidence of marriage, the institution has been defined by gender difference.  That’s why I can respect certain supporters of Proposition 8.  They believe marriage, in the worlds of Rick Warren, should be defined as it has for millennia, “as a contract between men and women.

And yet some advocates of gay marriage who want to eliminate that distinction, treat opponents as bigots, not respecting their reluctance, their opposition to a change of this magnitude.  More that just not understanding their opponents, some of those very advocates of gay marriage remain clueless about the meaning of institution, basing their definition, as I said in a previous post,  “on reading Hallmark cards and quoting the Loving decision.

I don’t want these people to win and see the definition of marriage reduced to to two loving individuals living together.  Marriage is far more than a relationship of love.  It involves commitment, fidelity and mutual responsibility.  And many gay couples, perhaps most, do get that, including at least the four gay California couple I know (three female, one male) who have elected to get married here.

Much as the leading advocates of gay marriage deserve to have their treacly definition of marriage defeated, those couples deserve to have their marriages recognized.  They at least understand the obligations of the institution.

That is the primary reason I’m voting “No.”  Let us hope that should Proposition 8 fail, that their relationships will come to define gay marriage in the Golden State.  And that those currently leading the fight for the institution will come to appreciate the meaning of marriage so they can better promote it within our community.  And to society at large.

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19 Comments

  1. And that those currently leading the fight for the institution will come to appreciate the meaning of marriage so they can better promote it within our community. And to society at large.

    I would also like to see the gay community at large sit back and appreciate this accomplishment and not turn it into further means of attacking and undermining society at large.

    For instance, they should be among the first to protest when a teacher takes her class to a field trip to her lesbian marriage. Or coming out against law suits against fertility Drs. who won’t treat same sex couples.

    Comment by Leah — October 29, 2008 @ 7:21 pm - October 29, 2008

  2. “For instance, they should be among the first to protest when a teacher takes her class to a field trip to her lesbian marriage.”

    Or when any teacher takes her class to a field trip to *any* marrige, right?

    Or is it just the lesbian marriages that are wrong to take children to?

    Please advise.

    Patrick Meighan
    Culver City, CA

    Comment by Patrick Meighan — October 29, 2008 @ 8:11 pm - October 29, 2008

  3. Of course it’s more wrong to take other people’s kids to a lesbian wedding without the parent’s consent.

    This has to be explained to you?

    Comment by Vince P — October 29, 2008 @ 8:45 pm - October 29, 2008

  4. Scripture and Christian tradition teach respecting the nature of human sexuality and marriage “that genital sexual expression between a man and a woman should take place only in marriage and that marriage is a permanent, exclusive, procreative, and loving union.” (17 New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1979, p. 272.)

    Are we ready to put an end to this institution of “permanent, exclusive, procreative, and loving” unions of one man and one woman?

    Our society has been on the warpath against marriage, and thus it has been on the warpath against children. Many have attacked its “exclusive” nature by their adultries, and some by advocating multi-partner marriage (the next logical step after “gay marriage”?). Its “permanent” character has been damaged by the liberal divorce and remarriage laws that facilitate the high rate of divorce.

    If we are moral and humane enough to care about children, we should not forget the famous Atlantic article of April 1993, “Dan Quayle Was Right,” by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead (www.theatlantic.com), about the decline of child well-being resulting from changes in family structure following the shift in the social metric from child well-being to adult well-being. The article’s introductory summary: “The social science evidence is in: though it may benefit the adults involved, the dissolution of intact two-parent families is harmful to large numbers of children. Moreover, the author argues, family diversity in the form of increasing numbers of single-parent and stepparent families does not strengthen the social fabric but, rather, dramatically weakens and undermines society.”

    I am not saying there are no benefits to the easy divorce/remarriage laws. I am not saying there is much chance to reverse these laws. But the cruelty they wrought on millions of children is undeniable.

    As we keep changing and expanding the definition of a concept and it begins to mean everything, it is on its way to meaning nothing. Redefining marriage to mean more and different things, and straying further and further from marriage as instituted by God, will make the institution of marriage more and more meaningless, and the sense of loving responsibility toward children and spouses and society that is an essential element of marriage’s nature will be more and more diminished.

    No purpose of the marital institution as created by God is more essential than procreation. (“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply…” Genesis 1:27-28, KJV.) Since same-sex couples cannot procreate, they cannot get married and possibly procreate. Their relationship is not marriage, even if we try to call it “marriage.” Marriage legislation is primarily society’s attempt to insure responsible procreation, and marriage legislation that does not include same-sex couples does not unjustly discriminate against them because they are incapable of procreation, and marriage is not relevant to them.

    In the voting booth, it might be worth recalling the Son of Man’s reply to the “goats” on his left on Judgment Day: “‘…He will answer them, “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’” (Matthew 25:45, NAB.)

    Comment by Steve — October 29, 2008 @ 11:37 pm - October 29, 2008

  5. I would also like to see the gay community at large sit back and appreciate this accomplishment and not turn it into further means of attacking and undermining society at large.

    I tend to agree. Y’all in California will be in the national eye if 8 fails. For those of us in the states where a gay couple cannot get legal recognition, our ability to convince our fellow citizens to change that will greatly depend on how wisely Californians exercise their marriage rights. We’re already paying for San Francisco’s ill-conducted foray into gay marriage four years ago.

    It’s not “fair,” but the privilege of being “first” (well, third) means you carry the burdens of it too.

    Comment by Rob — October 29, 2008 @ 11:53 pm - October 29, 2008

  6. I thought that a parent organized the field trip to support the teacher, along with the approval of the administrator and the obligatory parental consent forms collected. Tis a very interesting thought that as a “proud mother” of a wonderful conservative gay son, that she would like to have others impose their ‘approval and guidelines’ on someone like her son.

    Leah, if your son, in wonders of all wonders, meets his ‘Mr. Right’, say a lead (or at least a promising lead) person in the GOP party of the state of Cali or even on the National level — Maybe even someone working directly with a legislator like McCain or even Gov Palin, and your son and his partner plan a wedding, do you want others invading or critizing his day of joy and wonder, or would you as a mother impose your own views of what is correct or just allow your son to revel in one of the most important days in his life?

    There have been comments about providing logical and concrete examples of the merits of gay marriage. Well, it is extremely hard to line those merits up. Dan provided his commentary that he was voting No on 8 based on his familiarity and relationships with 4 SSCouples.
    It will be of those interpersonal relationships that will change the hearts and minds of the fence sitters. As far as those who are firmly against SSM, it may take awhile, and for some, they will go to their grave with their objections.

    America, even through legislation and court imposed rulings trying to regulate social change and improved human/civil rights, still is dealing with divisive issues. It is very evident that bigotry, hate, and fear still stir the pot with the ugliness of racism, anti-semitism, misogyny, and heterosexism.

    It is the happy faces of the those seeking SSM and images of happy couples that will turn hearts and change minds.

    I agree, that America’s GLBT community would do well to ‘Pay It Forward’ in the event that Prop 8 fails. But whether or not 8 fails or succeeds, over 11000 couples, and the numbers are growing, gay marriage is here to stay.

    Comment by rusty — October 30, 2008 @ 8:33 am - October 30, 2008

  7. Or when any teacher takes her class to a field trip to *any* marrige, right?

    Correct Patrick, I don’t want school children involved in any way in the personal lives of their teachers.

    I have never heard of any students going to their teachers weddings, there used to be this quaint idea that there was a separation between the teacher’s professional life and their personal life.

    Comment by Leah — October 30, 2008 @ 11:21 am - October 30, 2008

  8. Rusty, read my previous comment, I have no problem with the teacher marrying her intended – I have a problem with the private being brought into her professional career.
    I have a problem with a parent and an administrator being complicit in this action.
    If at some point down the road, the teacher and her wife were joint chaparones on a field trip, and a child asked, who is this other person, the teacher can say, she’s my wife. But there is a big difference between the casual mention of this to actually involving the kids in the ceremony.

    As to my son, his marriage will be an issue for the couple, the family and the COMMUNITY. It won’t be a political statement. I applaud every gay couple that ties the knot in whichever way they see fit and then actually lives the standard acceptible norm of a married couple.

    In the long run that will bring about the change in society – not the decision of activist judges. And as I stated in my first comment, if this is really only about marriage – then if 8 is defeated – celebrate the success – DO NOT turn it into a further political tool to keep bashing away at the norms of society.

    Comment by Leah — October 30, 2008 @ 11:40 am - October 30, 2008

  9. Since same-sex couples cannot procreate, they cannot get married and possibly procreate.

    Steve, you are willing to deny to the right to marry to heterosexual couples that are infertile? When a married couple reaches the age beyond when it is biologically possible to procreate, should they become divorced? If a heterosexual couple marries and decides not to procreate, does G-d think poorly of them?

    Procreation is not a reason for marriage. As pointed out in an essay on this board by Yishai Kabaker “marriage is not a biological institution; it’s a uniquely human social creation. If we were to follow biology strictly, polygamy would be ideal for breeding and none of the relationship aspects of marriage would be relevant.”

    Scripture has been used to promote polygamy and slavery as well; however, our advanced moral society has the profound insight to move beyond that old way of thinking. Besides, any and all religious arguments made for the way a state should define marriage are invalid and not welcomed in this country. This is not Saudi Arabia.

    It’s a shame that people condemn homosexuals for being promiscuous but then deny them the right to a monogamous union.

    Comment by OutliciousTV — October 30, 2008 @ 1:32 pm - October 30, 2008

  10. Leah, I was not suggesting that any marriage should be TURNED into a political tool. As far as being a political issue, I think that Gay Marriage has and will continue to be a vehicle for politicizing and energizing potential voters. Like the friends that Dan mentioned who recently got married, I too have many friends who have had committment ceremonies, signed legal papers, and others who have even had religious ceremonies in front of family and friends. None of them were taking their ‘marriages’ up to the front of the political forefront, they were just doing what their heart’s desired.

    With the young folk of America coming to terms with gay marriage, there will be some changes in the norms of society. Norms change, morph and are a reflection of society. Just as the Norms have slowly changed for minorities, women, children, etc. the LGBT community will also continue to see the change in the society’s view of it’s community. GLBT folk have friends, family, employers and colleagues that will change the political tone of the country. Dick and Lynne Cheney are not going to be the only grandparents of child from a GLBT family.

    GLBT folk have found more support from family over the years. Yes, there are still many GLBT folk who have been ostracized, separated and even ex-communicated by their friends, families and churches. But that is changing. Yishai noted the change of societal’s intolerance of GLBT folk and with that diminished resistance, GLBT folk are seeking paths to these welcoming arms. It is the ‘separate but equal’ tone that challenges GLBT folk to raise their voice in celebration when people feel like they are finally being ‘included’ and sometimes there will be challenges to things that are unjust and those injustices will end up in the courts.

    I thank you for your time and kudos again to you and your amazing son Yishai.

    Comment by rusty — October 30, 2008 @ 1:47 pm - October 30, 2008

  11. Thanks Rusty. In my first comment I was responding to Dan’s reaction to the campaign of the NO on 8.
    I don’t like the demonizing of the YES on 8 people – whether we like it or not, they make some valid points about preserving an ancient institution. I am not locked into the view that marriage should never change. Just like it took thousands of years to abolish polygamy (in the West at any rate), I am ok with it taking time for Gay marriage. No I don’t want it to take thousands of years, that is way too long in my opinion.

    But I get the real sense that for many activists – it is a tool to hammer away at the foundations of society. For the couples taking advantage of State sanctioned marriage – it is simply an affirmation of how they live their lives.

    For once, I’d like to see the activists fall in line with those they purport to stand for – or admit the truth – this has nothing to do with marriage and eveything to do with breaking down the norms of society.

    Comment by Leah — October 30, 2008 @ 2:47 pm - October 30, 2008

  12. Comment by OutliciousTV–If a gay couple wants to consider itself married–it can do so, and remain monogamous. Fidelity and loyalty are character qualities and the result of personal decision, not created by laws. I don’t get the whining as if the lack of sanctioned marriage forces a couple out of monogamy. Please! Where’s the obstacle to remaining together? Furthermore, where is the proof that being married has kept heterosexuals from cheating or from splitting up?

    In the Old Testament, just FYI, in Genesis 2:18, before God creates Eve, he says “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”. And earlier, in Genesis 1, God creates “man” in his image, then it qualifies this term as being male and female. So, more important than any ensuing procreation, is the fact that in order to be God’s “own image” it requires both man and woman, and that the principle of Adam’s need for companionship and help is more important than that of procreating. As I have heard it preached at different times, marriage is NOT necessarily about procreation–this is a theologically spurious viewpoint which really shouldn’t be repeated.

    Comment by Vivian — October 30, 2008 @ 5:11 pm - October 30, 2008

  13. For once, I’d like to see the activists fall in line with those they purport to stand for – or admit the truth – this has nothing to do with marriage and eveything to do with breaking down the norms of society

    Ah, but that would take honesty from both sides of the aisle. The people who are against gay marriage would have to admit that for *some* of them it is not about “protecting,” marriage (how my marriage would harm anyone else’s marriage, God and the radical Christian right only knows) but about keeping gay people in the imagine they want to see us as, freaks and perverts looking for sex in dark alleys.

    Both sides have their own hidden agendas with this issue, unfortunatley those sides happen to make the best press.

    Comment by Mitch — October 30, 2008 @ 6:43 pm - October 30, 2008

  14. Mitch, there are those on both sides who have agendas other than gay marriage. Dan has a new you tube up that shows the nasty side of some Yes on 8 people.
    If the Yes people win, they will feel they have ‘saved’ marriage. Some of them will continue to promote ‘curing gays’, but you won’t hear much from them anymore.

    If the NO people win, I am hoping they will do the same. Say thank you California, now let us deal with issues of discrimination, or DADT.
    I fear that what they will start doing is using this issue to promulgate law suits against people who don’t think like them. It’s already happening, as in suing a Dr. for not treating a Lesbian couple for infertility.

    A big problem I see on the left is they are never happy. Even when they get what they want – it’s just not enough. They are only fulfilled when they are fighting the ‘establishment’. Even when they win – it is only an excuse to keep on hammering away at society.

    Comment by Leah — October 30, 2008 @ 9:11 pm - October 30, 2008

  15. OutliciousTV asked: “Steve, you are willing to deny to the right to marry to heterosexual couples that are infertile? When a married couple reaches the age beyond when it is biologically possible to procreate, should they become divorced? If a heterosexual couple marries and decides not to procreate, does G-d think poorly of them?”

    A practical person named “mulopwepaul” said, “The state does not have a special sort of marriage for fertile men and women and another for sterile ones, or yet another for those who wish to indulge in deliberately sterile hedonism. The general design of marriage is for men and women, because it is men and women who pair to become parents. The state is not contemplating whether or not a particular man or a particular woman is sterile or merely unwilling to procreate when it creates a general recognition of a particular status for pairs of men and women predicated on the socially useful assumption that most of those pairings will in fact produce children. Particular exceptions do not invalidate the general principle.”

    I think that God, like the state, was being practical. As a practical matter, the world must be governed by general rules which might have some exceptions. At some point, the number of rules and exceptions becomes unworkable, particularly when decisions respecting them are based upon matters that are difficult to determine.

    It would be odd if God had prohibited infertile couples from marrying, because his prohibition of premarital sex would make that a tough thing to know ahead of time. I see no evidence that God commanded or permitted divorce for couples past their fertile years.

    Comment by Steve — October 30, 2008 @ 11:28 pm - October 30, 2008

  16. Aparently you can only have ALL those things if you are man and woman and married? I don’t even know how to begin to comprehend this argument. I have a “permanent, exclusive, and loving” union. Oh and by the way thanks to science we are expecting our first child. How you ask. . . artifical insemination of his sister. So we never had pre-marital or un-married sexual relations and we are still according to the definition are “procreating.” So if you want the word “Marriage” take it fine, but don’t even think that my right to see my partner in the hospita is invalid becuase it goes against God, in your eyes. Really take the word I’ll take partnership anyday over diminished rights based on your views. The argument is weak that this will cause harm to children. How is having 2 loving parents when you have none (foster) harmful to children?

    It’s ironic, you want rights as a Christian. The right to worship, practice, and freedoms to make that CHOICE on your own. Give me the decency and respect to allow the same for me. It’s my choice to be openly gay, yes. However it’s also your choice to be a Christian and it’s entirely up to you on how you choose to read the Bible and how you live YOUR life, stay out of MINE!

    So I CAN procreate and even adopt!!!!! Oh my yes that would be an option now wouldn’t it if there were folks out there that were not as blinded by faith they choose to mess with my life instead of just living their own. . .

    -Cryptor

    Comment by Cryptor832 — October 31, 2008 @ 3:00 am - October 31, 2008

  17. Dan, thanks for your post on your thoughts on Prop. 8. I agree with your point that the courts is not the best way to mandate same sex marriage (or anything for that matter). However, courts have been empowered for almost 200 years to decide on the consitutionality of matters. Of course, it could be debated whether or not they decided correctly. The only way to prevent courts from mandating policy is to strip their power of judicial review, but it doesn’t appear that will happen.

    I don’t quite agree with your point that if Prop. 8 fails, then people will support gay marriage. One of the bases of your decision to vote No is that you don’t want a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. I also understand that you have seen same sex marriage as positive as evidenced by friends of yours that are married. But I suspect that if “No” wins, the margin will be smaller than the number of people who are against same sex marriage, but don’t want it enshrined into the state constitution.

    Anyway, another excellent post on same sex marriage. And I share your hopes should “No” wins.

    Comment by Pat — October 31, 2008 @ 7:44 am - October 31, 2008

  18. So, more important than any ensuing procreation, is the fact that in order to be God’s “own image” it requires both man and woman, and that the principle of Adam’s need for companionship and help is more important than that of procreating. As I have heard it preached at different times, marriage is NOT necessarily about procreation–this is a theologically spurious viewpoint which really shouldn’t be repeated.

    Vivian, this may have been the reason for marriage thousands of years ago. The context from above was that Adam was the only person before God created Eve. So Adam was obviously lonely. When Eve was created, Adam then had a companion. Marriage wasn’t necessary for that companionship.

    I think that God, like the state, was being practical. As a practical matter, the world must be governed by general rules which might have some exceptions. At some point, the number of rules and exceptions becomes unworkable, particularly when decisions respecting them are based upon matters that are difficult to determine.

    Steve, you’ve just presented a good argument for same sex marriage.

    It would be odd if God had prohibited infertile couples from marrying, because his prohibition of premarital sex would make that a tough thing to know ahead of time. I see no evidence that God commanded or permitted divorce for couples past their fertile years.

    Would it have been odd if God had prevented couples in which the woman was past childbearing age to marry? Or for God to prohibit potentially fertiel couples who have no intention of having children to marry? Actually, we have no evidence what God has commanded for marriage. These were all done through laws, part of the basis being what people surmised what His commands were.

    Comment by Pat — October 31, 2008 @ 7:57 am - October 31, 2008

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