Proposition 8 is a California initiative seeking to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage between anyone other than a man and a woman. We had a similar initiative, Prop 22, which passed years ago, but the California Supreme Court narrowly overturned it on the basis of discrimination. Opponents immediately sought a ballot measure to reverse the decision.
You all know I'm in favor of gay rights-- that's no surprise. But even if you oppose homosexuality, this is why you should vote against this proposition (or its equivalent in your local state).
* Civil rights should not be subject to popular vote. Our country was founded on equality for all, and also with the idea of rejecting the "tyranny of the majority." Had the Civil Rights Act of 1964 been subject to popular vote, we would likely still have segregation and Jim Crow laws in effect in parts of this country today.
* The right to marry is a civil contract pertaining to civil laws. If your church opposes the right of gays to marry, then your church will never be forced to offer church weddings to gay people. However, YOUR religion should not govern the rights of other people who do not hold your beliefs. That's what separation of church and state is all about. It is designed to prevent religion from unduly influencing the state (particular a handful of religions), and the state from unduly influencing religion. Separation of church and state is one of the most powerful and important parts of our country; it is the thing that is missing in places like Ireland and Iraq and Pakistan that allow opposing factions to wage continual war over what the country's official religion "should" be.
* The legal rights of domestic partnerships are NOT equivalent to those of married people. Rights of child custody, inheritance, power-of-attorney, and spousal benefits are NOT guaranteed to domestic partners. So many voters who think "separate but equal" is a reasonable position are forgetting once again that separate is NOT equal. Gay couples SHOULD NOT have to hire attorneys in the hopes of ensuring rights and privileges that straight people can acquire simply by getting married. Moreover, there is no guarantee that even with an attorney and the appropriate documents that those rights will not be overturned if challenged:
* Gay marriage protects the rights of the children of gay couples. It provides them with the rights afforded to any other children of married parents.
My neighborhood has a proliferation of "Yes On 8" signs and only a handful of "No On 8" signs. One family has their "Yes On 8" sign facing the house of a lesbian family with children. It infuriates me every time I see it-- I don't know whether the one family is being deliberately hateful or if they're clueless, but the thing is, you don't know whom you're offending when you promote your hatred of gay people. It's not something people wear like skin color or religious symbols or clothing.
The Mormon Church has asked its members to do all that they can to help Prop 8 pass, which means that we've had lots of money streaming in from out-of-state to promote the agenda of a specific church against the rights of individuals who actually live in our state. The quantity of Mormon funding into Prop 8 is hugely out of proportion to the Mormon population of this state. That makes me angry as well. This is a church whose idea of "traditional marriage" was one man and multiple women, until that was discarded in exchange for granting statehood to Utah. Black people were barred from the Temple, because their skin color was considered to be the mark of Cain. Black men were denied the church priesthood until 1978, and women attain the priesthood only through their fathers or husbands.
By contrast, I found an amazing website a few days ago, LDS For Gay Marriage. This site features well-reasoned essays on why the church should not interfere in the civil rights of gay people, and details the harm to gay people and their children that comes from opposing gay marriage. It is written by people who are not themselves homosexual and do not support homosexuality, but who make a distinction between their personal beliefs and the rights of others, as well as why gay marriage is important for gay people and their children.
Opposing gay marriage will not eliminate homosexuality. It has always been with us and always will - even in the animal kingdom. It's a naturally-occuring variation, much like handedness. The argument that gay marriage threatens straight marriage is unfounded. The biggest threats to marriage of any kind are incompatibility and immaturity, which come from within ourselves.
I spoke to the receptionist at my dentist's office last week, who said that as a Christian she "loves gay people but opposes gay marriage." She'd already voted for Prop 8 absentee, but she was NOT aware that domestic partnerships do not come with the same rights as marriage.
This post is for anyone who opposes the right of gay people to marry. Please take a moment to understand that you are denying rights to people AND their children which you take for granted, and to consider what your life would be like if the rights of YOUR race or gender or religion could be eliminated by popular vote.