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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.Â 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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