Spotlight on Ballot Initiatives: California Proposition 8

Why hello there.

First, apologies for getting behind on comments, both approving and replying.  I know being super-busy isn’t really an excuse, because we’re all in the same boat.  I’ll try to do better – I love getting comments and I really appreciate everyone who reads, whether or not you comment.

Second, hey, this liveblogging thing is pretty cool!  I’m back home from South Dakota on an actual computer, but it’s nice to know that one-fingered typing can keep you updated when I’m at exciting related events (hopefully there will be more of those after I graduate and am employed).  I am glad, though, that I’m not going to have to watch the debate on a three-inch screen!  Speaking of South Dakota, I’ve decided to do a little spotlight on ballot initiatives feature this month, to keep y’all informed about gender and sexuality related issues that are up for a vote in your state.  As promised, I’ll let you know about Measure 11, as well as my own experience fighting it and the interesting perspectives that South Dakotans bring to the table on the issue.  Tonight, I’d like to talk about Prop 8 in California, and gay marriage in general.  

I know most of you reading are in favour of gay marriage, and against Prop 8, but I’ve also noticed some anti-gay comments on the blog, and I’d like to make a rational appeal just in case there are any undecided California voters hanging around.  The language itself is pretty simple.  It would add a section stating that, “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”  There isn’t much to debate about that language, but I’d like to give a few reasons why gay marriage should be valid and recognized, however you personally feel about gay people and whether or not you think that gays should marry as a religious or social matter.

  1. Disallowing gay marriage doesn’t get rid of gay relationships.  Gay people will still love each other, make commitments to each other, say vows to each other, live together, and raise children together in California if the proposition passes.  They will still marry each other in churches.  The only thing at issue here is whether gay marriage is legally recognised by the state.
  2. Allowing gay marriage doesn’t threaten heterosexual marriage.  The divorce rate has been going up for years without any recognition of gay marriage in this country.  People marry for many, many, many reasons and they divorce for just as many reasons.  Perhaps the culture of a whole is changing to de-emphasise marriage, but if this is what bothers you, gay marriage should be a good thing.  It encourages people who are already in stable, loving relationships to marry, and means more children will be raised in the context of a marriage.  Again, the idea is not that the state is creating more gay relationships to lure straight people away from marriage.  The relationships are already here.  Straight people are not lured away by the prospect of a gay marriage.  Closeted gay people in heterosexual marriages were already gay in the first place.
  3. Gay marriage protects children.  However you feel about gay people adopting kids together, or about second-parent adoptions or other family structures involving gay parents, they do exist.  There are children being raised by gay people, and if Proposition 8 passes they will be threatened.  The rights and benefits that extend to married people include many rights, financial and otherwise, designed to protect children.  Even if children have rights by virtue of the parent-child relationship, whether the parents’ partnership is recognised or not, there is a stigma that goes along with having a law on the books suggesting that a child’s family is unnatural.  This stigma is harmful to children.
  4. The idea that this is a slippery slope and soon all sorts of sexual conduct will be recognised, from bestiality to incest to polygamy, is a little silly.  This isn’t about sex, it is about a legal relationship between two people.  Sodomy laws are already unconstitutional in this country.  The gays and lesbians who want to marry are often more conservative than their peers and in some cases more like heterosexual married couples than unmarried LGBT ones.  Many of them have children, and often are already in long-term, committed relationships and would have married earlier if it had been a legal option.  Many LGBT people for whom marriage is significant are religious.  The gay marriage movement is actually quite moderate, and isn’t asking for wild, promiscuous sex.  It is asking for recognition in a context to which many married heterosexual people can relate.  

I should note that these aren’t the reasons why I personally support the gay marriage movement (those have more to do with equality and rights), but if I learned anything this weekend it’s that two people can vote the same way on a given ballot initiative for entirely different reasons.  So, I think that both progressive LGBT folks and allies, and more conservative heterosexual people who don’t give a hoot about gay people but do care about children and families, should vote no on this proposition.

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About Avory

Avory Faucette is a queer feminist activist, writer, and public speaker. Zie graduated from the University of Iowa with a JD in 2009, focusing on international human rights and gender/sexuality issues in the law. Hir current work focuses on queer identity, policy, and marginalized identities under the queer umbrella. As a genderqueer person, zie comments frequently on non-binary identity, transgender and genderqueer issues, and media coverage of these populations. Zie also speaks at colleges, universities, and events on transgender and queer issues and conducts trainings on related topics.

Posted on October 8, 2008, in law & politics, same-sex marriage and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Thanks for this rundown of the issues of gay marriage. I find the arguments against prop 8 horrendous and ridiculous and fear-mongering, so I’d like to chime in…

    The pro-prop 8 ads try to pretend that gay marriage somehow impinges on everyone else’s life and rights. Gay marriage doesn’t affect most people who are opposed to it. The pro-prop 8 ads try to imply that churches’ tax-exempt status will be threatened and that gay marriage will somehow open up a bunch of lawsuits. Ha. No. The people, already in loving relationships, who are now able to get married are the ones affected. If you’re not one of them, your choice is simple. Are you going to put yourself in the position of dictating whether someone else is allowed to marry or not? If you strongly disapprove, just skip this proposition. Don’t vote your morals on someone else’s life. That’s a conversation for your place of worship, your dinner table, but not for the ballot box. Sorry, I’m probably over-passionate. But I think you understand my point.

    The other thing the ads mention is “teaching gay marriage” in school. Another ha. No. What are people picturing? Imagine, the teacher standing up in front of the class: “Now, class, I’m going to teach you how to have a gay marriage. Just like last week we learned about straight marriage.” This is just fear-mongering. The people who are affected are the people who are gay who want to get married. The choice is whether you want to impose your own moral values on other people or not. The ad says it’s not about tolerance. Too true. Prop 8 is about intolerance.

    Sorry for ranting…

  2. I just have to say that if Prop 8 doesn’t pass then several of my unalienable rights that are stated in the Bill of Rights that this Nation was partly founded upon will be alienated. Freedom to allow my kids to be born into and live in a home where Traditional love abounds, that is to say between a Man and a Woman. I would like to make myself clear, I am not anti-homosexuals. They have their rights as much as I do. They can fully exercise those rights RIGHT NOW. If this Proposition doesn’t pass, we allow homosexual marriage, it will allow Homosexual behavior to be taught in PUBLIC schools and become common place. Marriage has been and forevermore should be known as between a Man and a Woman. Allow me to illustrate my point.

    The definition of marriage for eons of time has been defined as only between a man and a woman; just the same way that a Peanut Butter and Jelly (PB and J) sandwich(marriage) has to have both PB and J(man and woman) to be a PB and J sandwich(marriage). It can not have just Peanut Butter or Jelly (man and man or woman and woman) and be a PB and J sandwich (marriage) it is still a sandwich (i.e. civil union or domestic partnerships) just not a PB and J sandwich(marriage).

    “We Fight Not For Glory, Not For Riches, Not For Honor; We Fight Only And Alone For Freedom, Which No Good Man Surrenders, Save With His Life.” ~ Winston Churchill ~

  3. Two reasons that I think same-sex marriage should be legal?

    1. Not allowing gay/lesbian people to marry is sex discrimination, plain and simple. If the only reason I cannot marry another woman is BECAUSE she is a woman, then it’s sex discrimination. I thought this country was about men and women being equal? I personally think sexuality has nothing to do with it.

    2. How is it that we will allow two same-sex parents to be related to a child (through same-sex adoption), but NOT legally related to each other? It seems to be the essence of destabilization and not in the best interest of the child or family unit.

    As for Brandon, your reader above, it’s only a matter of time. It’s not about sexuality, it’s about equality. You are on the losing end of this one. Your children will see us holding hands, kissing on the street, with our families, and learn that we are just the same as anyone else. They will have friends who are gay, friends who date other boys or girls, and will be taught about the importance of diversity, unity, and equality.

    Sorry to disappoint, but it’s coming. Look at the decision in Connecticut today? You can’t stop progress. It may not be today or tomorrow…but soon.

  4. alesbianandascholar

    underwood- Great points! I agree that for the most part, gay marriage really won’t affect straight people. It hadn’t occurred to me to just suggest that people strongly against gay marriage don’t vote at all, but that’s a good idea. In terms of the education question, I’m not really sure. I would imagine that it might push schools in a direction when talking about family to be more inclusive, but this could benefit straight people as well. Many children are raised by single parents, divorced parents, grandparents, adopted parents, etc. When I was in school, we learned that families that did not consist of two parents and children are (quite literally, from the textbook) “dysfunctional.” Surely that benefits no one.

    Brandon- I’d like to thank you for your thoughtful comment. I am, quite honestly, curious which inalienable rights you are referring to. I’m glad that you believe that there should be gay rights in general. My father similarly thinks that there should be civil unions and that it is only a difference of what you call it, so marriage isn’t necessary. The reason I don’t agree with him is that civil unions and domestic partnerships do not actually carry the exact same rights along with them. I don’t much care what the name is – I think marriage is a religious institution and a social institution and so it up to religions and societies to define it for themselves – but I do think that there should be some legal institution where everyone has the same list of rights, gay or straight. To me it seems that this is another separate but equal situation. As for education, see my comments above. I’m not sure what the fear is, exactly. Teachers wouldn’t be promoting one sexuality over the other, they would just be recognizing that there are different family forms and for the most part leaving it to parents to explain values to their children, as they do now.

    Jul – For the record, I agree with you entirely. The point of this post was an exercise in appealing to those who are undecided or slightly against gay marriage, but I do personally believe that LGBT people are being denied their human rights to marriage and equality. The child argument is also a good one, though I think you need both together since adopted children do have equal rights as long as the state laws allow for that. I am SO happy about Connecticut. I’ll be hearing the Iowa Supreme Court’s oral arguments in person on the 9th, and I hope we’re number four!

  1. Pingback: Spotlight on Ballot Initiatives: Another Reason to Vote No on 8 « A Lesbian and a Scholar

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