Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yes or no on Proposition 8?

I live in California and this year one of the propositions on the ballot, Proposition 8, would amend the constitution to define marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman.  It's an attempt to address a sticky matter that occurs at the intersection of politics and religion.  

First off, I do have an issue with how matters currently stand.  It does appear that the current law carries some negative effects for those who find same sex marriage against their convictions, religious or otherwise.  

I don't pretend to have analyzed the the subtleties of the law and how it will interact with various practices, but it has been claimed that it will cause issues for ministers and groups that cannot, within the bounds of their religious beliefs, perform marriages of same sex couples.  Commercials in support of Proposition 8 have claimed that such groups may lose their tax exempt status.  

If this is true, it essentially puts a state imposed standard upon which religious groups will be eligible for tax exempt status based on a particular issue of their own views on morality, based on their religious beliefs.  It will become a litmus test.  If you hold to belief A to the point it will constrain your actions, you are ineligible for tax exempt status. If you do not hold to belief A, or at least do not hold it with sufficient conviction for it to constrain your actions, you are eligible for tax exempt status.

So, I think we've established that the law, as it currently stands, does pose a problem.  

My response begins with the fact that marriage is a religious concept.  It predates civil societies and government involvement in the issue.  Marriage commitments and ceremonies, as opposed to simple mating, happened before marriage licenses, retirement benefits, and family insurance coverage were ever invented. Granted, it's a concept that civil society adopted,  and modified, as early societies used a fusion of religion and politics to provide a social contract for common good, at the very least for the good of those in power.  

Things like a change in legal status that allows for certain rights and responsibilities was added by civil government.  These later additions might best be described as a civil union.  It allows for two people to tie their lives together in such a way as to facilitate certain rights and responsibilities, like property held in common, that in the event of one partner dying the surviving partner will still have rights to, or shared health insurance based on the employment of one party.  I think this is actually something that even most conservatives would agree should be allowed for same sex couples.  

It appears that Proposition 8 is, if I'm generous with my assumptions about motivations, a well intentioned attempt to fix a real problem.  The current legal situation might lead to government making decisions on which sets of religious beliefs are deserving of tax exempt status and which ones are not.  It may also coerce certain groups to allow behaviors that, whether the rest of the world agrees with them or not, they consider to be an evil to be avoided. All that being given, I think Proposition 8 is not an appropriate solution to the problem.  It is falling from the frying pan and right into the fire.  

Proposition 8, following in the footsteps of previous law, makes an amalgam of civil union, a matter of government, and marriage, a matter of religious tradition, and then proceeds to make a religious proclamation about a specific definition of marriage a matter of constitutional law.  It is within the state's power to determine what kind of civil unions it will recognize, it is not however within the state's power to dictate what one must believe in one's religion.   This sets up an incredibly dangerous precedent of having a cultural majority impose their religious beliefs upon the general population.   Some groups that hold a majority stake in our culture right now might be comfortable with this imposition, but they might not in the not too distant future as California's demographics continue to change.

Making such a legal distinction will allow for easy remedy of several issues.  Any given religious tradition should be free to determine if it will recognize same sex unions as marriage or not.  The state should not impose upon any group a list of acceptable doctrines and beliefs.   On the other hand, the state is not obligated validate through civil union status the marriage of underage children or polygamy.  Ideally, marriages and civil unions would be concurrent and maybe facilitated by the same officiant during the same event, but this is not necessary. It would allow each religious tradition to make it's own determination on the issue of same sex marriage while acknowledging same sex couples with the same legal status as a heterosexual couple. It might be possible to have a civil union performed to allow for insurance benefits for a couple that do not have any religious belief and do not wish to be married.  It would allow for the state to simply not validate marriages through civil union status when they occur outside of certain parameters.

Put simply, Proposition 8 will institutionalize a common misconception and will dictate religious belief. If we instead separate the concepts of marriage and civil union it will allow religious groups to self determine their own definition of marriage and will allow for all couples, be they heterosexual or homosexual, the same protection under law.  

I will be voting no on Proposition 8.


Reuven said...

This is a modern-day inquisition! The fact is, most Californians belong to Churches that are AGAINST proposition 8. See

Except these churches are too Moral and Ethical to enter politics. They were caught off-guard by out-of-state zealots.

Paula said...

Proposition 8 is a moral issue--and like all moral issues, the desires of individuals are sometimes in opposition to the greater social good. It is in society's interests to protect the unique status of marriage between a man and a woman, because it is the union of a man and woman that produces and rears society's children. Marriage and family relationships have been weakened enough in our century. To extend the definition of marriage to same-sex couples makes the institution itself virtually meaningless, and will further weaken marriage as a social concept with power to harness the energies of fathers and mothers on behalf of their offspring. True marriage, quite frankly, is difficult. Bearing and raising children is difficult. It needs as much social support as possible.
Same-sex relationships may mirror marriage, but they do so only imperfectly. And they do no naturally result in children. At best, the positive impact of allowing same-sex marriage will affect a very small number of couples and families. The negative impact of weakening marriage will affect millions of families and children. Sometimes it just isn't possible to make everyone happy, and those who are most vulnerable, our (society's collective) children, are most in need of our support. I will vote Yes on Proposition 8.

NonCharon said...

Nothing like having someone respond to your blog that obviously paid no attention to the points you've made. It's not really a response, it's a statement without regard for the previous statement meant to be camouflaged as a response.

Oh well. :)

emily said...

The state of California allowing same-gender marriage may seem progressive to some– –but what it says to me is that the state of California sanctions a relationship that does not best serve children.

While no heterosexual parents are perfect, and some situations are down right abusive and traumatic, the response is not to eliminate a child’s right to a mom and a dad. The response is to better educate, better encourage, better help parents be better.

While a lesbian couple or a gay couple may provide a stable home, love, and support to a child. By definition, a same-gender marriage cannot provide them a mom and a dad. Every child has the right to a mom and a dad.

Society should sacrifice for the health and well being of its children.

This is why I am voting “yes” on prop 8 (on my absentee ballot).

emily said...

this is an interesting argument too:

NonCharon said...

Emily, Prop 8 has nothing to do with adoption or parenting. Gay couples adopting children is already a common practice in California. Whether this is right or wrong is immaterial to Prop 8.

I'm going to assume that you also oppose single people adopting children as well, based upon your argument. Should children rather stay in constantly rotating foster homes than be adopted by single parents or gay couples?

Now, what about gay couples in which one parent parents a child? Should the child be taken away? Should the child be taken away from single parents (that deny both a "mom and a dad)?

Sorry, your point has absolutely nothing to do with Prop 8.

BTW Emily, I gotta love it when someone comments on my blog, but doesn't allow comments on theirs. It's kind of like doing a drive by. Make a comment and then go somewhere were you are safe from someone doing the same back.

It remains to be seen if Paula (above) allows for my response to be published on hers.

Paula said...

Actually, I haven't had to refuse a comment on my blog yet. I don't mind people sharing different opinions, as long as it's done in a way that is respectful of others (foul language, name calling, etc. would definitely not make it on). On an issue this divisive I obviously can't expect everyone to agree with me, and if they take the time to read my thoughts they're welcome to express their own.

Reamworks said...

I'm a bit worried about Proposition 8. Have you seen this?

Anonymous said...

I find many interesting comments here. I would like to say something in the interest of people's point of view because of their 'religion'.

We all subscribe to values based on whatever we choose to believe or not. Everyone has the right to their opinion (Constitutional 1st Amendment rights) and should not be denegrated for their beliefs - regardless of why they believe what they do. Freedom of Religion is also part of our fundamental rights. Our nation was founded by 'believers' and has been fundamentally a Christian nation. While we must separate Church and State (meaning the State cannot dictate the beliefs held in the church or govern it in any way) we cannot separate morality in our laws without dire consequences to our society.

We outlaw stealing, murder, prostitution, drug abuse and a host of other behaviors we deem detrimental to the good of society. This is not to deny anyone their rights, as to allow them would trample on the rights of others.

While Prop 8 is with us in this election because 4 State Supreme court judges overturned the will of 61% of California voters who voted to MAINTAIN marriage between a man and a woman in 2000 (Prop 22), same-sex marriage is the heart of the issue.

Just look at this from a common sense standpoint. Extrapolate out from gay marraige a generation or two. We will have children who don't understand the male/female relationship because won't have been modeled in a same-sex home. You will have children who have come from a sperm bank or surrogate mother or adopted in same-sex 'marriages'. Nature has no way of working in these relationships.

We have so denegrated marriage (free sex; easy divorce, infidelity, etc) that, for some, gay marriage isn't a stretch at all.

Allowing same-sex marraige into our society as 'equal' to marriage between a man and a woman will confuse children and will create a society of people who don't know who they are.

Roots are important to healthy growth. Take the root from the plant and you soon have a withered and dried up plant incapable of producing healthy fruit/flowers, etc. (that's just how nature works)

Roots are important to people, too. Genealogy is the number one 'hobby' around the world. People want/'need to know where they came from, who their families are. It is a huge part of our identity...knowing who we are, belonging, etc.

The social chaos (not to mention the diseases) that will result from same-sex marriage (promotion of the gay lifestyle) will be our undoing!

I recently became aware of a 4-year old boy who learned who his father is and was beaming it to his pre-school classmates. He knows his father's name...and now his name...which was a huge piece missing in his life. Now that he knows who his father is, his identity is becoming more whole. (consider how this child might feel if he were to find his father is a nameless stranger from a sperm bank who he will never have a relationship with!? or the friendly next-door neighbor who is a willing donor or who knows?

Studies show that children do best in homes with a mother and a father in low conflict situations.

Those who advocate gay marriage don't want 'equal' rights, they want domination. They want to 'force' themselves to be accepted in places where their lifestyle goes against anothers beliefs/values - ie. churches, schools, Drs. who don't want to inseminate lesbian women because of their own values, adoption agencies, who for their own values don't want to adopt children to gay/lesbian couples, etc. Same-sex couples want to 'force' acceptance of their lifestyle in our society. They don't merely want to live/let live. And the majority of lesbians/gays don't want marriage at all because it is about SEX (Not children/not families) and they go from partner to partner with great frequency.

Marriage is about CHILDREN. We owe it to the future generations to preserve the order in nature - common sense- that perpetuates our human race and creates the best possible chances for healthy human beings/families/identities.
VOTE YES ON 8. (but with no hate - just common sense)

Anonymous said...

It's is amazing what gets going around! Your fear of polygamy being the basis/underlying purpose of Prop 8 is totally unfounded.

The wording of Prop 8 came from the original Prop 22 in 2000 and was written by Pete Knight, as California State senator.(not a Mormon) See the link:

Mormons are not the only church that supports Prop 8. The list is a very long one:

The suggestion that Prop 8 is somehow 'veiled' to allow polygamy, is just 'bunk'.

Christian churches and others who are non-Christian, or hold no religious affliation at all support Prop 8 because it supports the bedrock of our society - the traditional family.

You can VOTE YES ON 8 and know that the traditional family - one man and one woman - and their children is what will be preserved.

NonCharon said...

Sorry, long anonymous posts will be deleted.

Feel free to repost with a name and contact info like everyone else. :)

NonCharon said...

Dear, "Anonymous"....

Gay couples routinely "adopt" children even without being married. It *has* *happened*, past tense. It will continue to happen regardless of the definition of marriage. This is a red herring, pure and simple.

Sorry, your definition of marriage is inadequate. My wife was incapable of having children when we married and now her health precludes adoption. Per your definition, many heterosexual couples don't have a marriage. Question, are all of those couples just together because of sex? Your argument strikes me as flawed logic based on suspect assumptions that leads to blatantly wrong conclusions.

Wanting to be able to call their relationship a marriage is domination? Refusing to allow another's religious beliefs define who they are is domination? You my friend, are calling black white and hoping no one notices. Have fun with that.

Oh, and the polygamy thing strikes me as a bit fringe as well. But hey, he didn't post anonymously. :)

NonCharon said...

Rather than delete the previous anonymous posts I just changed my settings to disallow further anonymous posts.