A guest-post by my friend Duff Beach, who has contributed many thoughtful and insightful comments to this blog over the past few years. Thanks for this, Duff!
Last weekend the Proposition 8 coalition approached my family as we emerged from the Catholic church my wife and I attend with our two young children. As I discussed with them, slogans notwithstanding, Proposition 8 is three things: anti-marriage, anti-family, and traditional discrimination.
How many marriages will Proposition 8 protect? None. It has no effect on heterosexual marriage.
On the other hand, if passed, how many marriages will Prop. 8 destroy? Thousands on November 4, and tens of thousands and more in the future. Real people, in loving, lifetime relationships will be told their relationships are second class. They will be told they aren’t and can’t be full members of society. My old neighbors, my real estate agent, my colleagues, the parents of children my daughter goes to preschool with, all marginalized.
How many families will Proposition 8 protect? Again, none.
How many families will Prop. 8 attack? Literally millions; every extended family that includes a committed, life-time, same-sex relationship, or even the possibility of one. That means Ellen Degeneres’s family, that means Dick Cheney’s family, it means the families of those kids my children go to school with, and it may well mean your family, whether you know it or not.
Lesbian and gay people are just that, people, with families — mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children — who love them. Prop. 8 attacks them. Not obliquely or by accident, but directly, with no other intent.
This discrimination has consequences. I witnessed first-hand the pain my friend suffered when she reached her twenties and her mother finally revealed to her that mom’s “friend” and “housemate” of more than a decade was actually mom’s partner. My friend wasn’t crushed because her mother is a lesbian, she was crushed because her mother felt the need to lie to her daily for well over a decade for fear that people would discriminate against her daughter.
I witnessed first-hand a “traditional” marriage fail because the wife is a lesbian. In her family that wasn’t acceptable. She tried hard to fight who she is. She suppressed it for many years. She tried to conform to what society wanted. In the end, it couldn’t change who she is. As a result she suffered, her husband suffered, and their two families suffered.
What traditions will Prop. 8 uphold? The tradition of thousands of years of discrimination. The tradition of forcing confused, anguished young people further away from society. The tradition of hate, and imposing self-loathing on a small, but significant part of the population. And the tradition of discouraging stable relationships between same-sex lovers.
The religious right has made this a cause celebre, but it is not the government’s job to enforce religious norms. California is a civil society, not a theocracy. The California Constitution, Article I, Section 4, prescribes, “Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference,” and, like the federal constitution, bars the establishment of a State religion. Are we now to repudiate that Californian and American tradition?
Catholic churches are under no obligation to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. Nor are LDS churches, Evangelicals, Jewish or Islamic temples, nor any other religious organization. Right now, without Prop.8, religious conservatives can go right on decrying the “gay agenda” and discriminating to their hearts’ content. Right now people who are uncomfortable calling a gay union “marriage” are free to refrain from doing so. What does Prop. 8 add? It adds pain. This cannot be a proper goal for our state’s constitution.
Proposition 8 doesn’t help anyone, but hurts many. It is, in short, morally bankrupt.
Protect marriage, protect families, vote no on Proposition 8.