09 November 2008

Prop 8 - Discussion With Staunch Supporters

The following is a discussion I had with some staunch supporters of the amendment, just after it passed, regarding a note my friend wrote (we'll call him David).


Why do gays in California want to claim what we hold sacred?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 11:33pm
While making calls for proposition 8 I received a return call from one of the people that I had just left a message to. He was irate because I said that gay couples already had the same rights as married couples. I realized that I had just gotten the information as a talking point so I did a little research and what I found was in the Family Code section 297-297.5. It states:

"Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights,
protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same
responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they
derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules,
government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources
of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses."

Indeed gay couples have all the rights of a marriage it is just called a domestic partnership. So why do they want to get "married"?

Whatever the reason it has nothing to do with rights.

You can find the Family Code referenced here:



O-Mo wrote
at 9:14am on November 6th, 2008
Try thinking of it this way if only to understand and increase sensitivity to where many opponents of the prop are coming from: some gay people, too, hold marriage "sacred" in their minds and hearts, so much so that they want to be able to "marry" their sweethearts as they always hoped. As strange as that may sound, it's what many feel.

Reverse the roles: you grew up in a society where homosexuality is the norm, yet you don't swing that way. You want to be with a woman, and she and you have been together for years but not allowed to "marry" because you're heterosexual and "marriage" is a homosexual institution. You are "allowed" domestic partnership with accompanying rights but denied marriage.

Now, you may be fair-minded and accept that when "marriage" was adopted into government and named as a fundamental right, it was a strictly homosexual institution, and therefore, you have every right to enter into a proper marriage with a man like anyone else, but instead chose to follow your heart and be with a woman, and statutes grant you all the same rights but prohibit you from having a valid marriage ceremony.

Or perhaps that's not enough. Perhaps you want to fulfill your dream of making that most important of commitments you can make with another person, and it's not just about having the same financial and contractual "rights" (as if you're supposed to bow in gratitude for that equality despite being denied what everyone else is allowed) but having the same right of entering into a marriage relationship and building a family (never mind the fact that a man and a woman can't procreate but only two members of the same gender--you plan to adopt). To be told you can't because you love a woman seems fundamentally discriminatory and dismissive of you and everyone like you, whether or not you have the same medical and financial rights. And what's to stop those rights from one day being removed if you're not constitutionally protected?

O-Mo wrote
at 9:15am on November 6th, 2008
Ha, it's an imperfect comparison, but hopefully, it at least helps you understand that this isn't just about stubbornly robbing society of its long-established view of marriage. At least, not for most, as far as I can tell.

David wrote
at 10:33am on November 6th, 2008
You are saying that it is an emotional thing that they just want to be able to fit in. The problem is far more than just calling it marriage.

by having gay marriage accepted means that it is going to get taught to our children as being normal. Parents don't have the right to be notified that their children are being taught about it, nor do they have the right to have their children opt out.

Why must they be taught about same sex marriage in the 2nd grade or earlier? What about our right to teach our children our beliefs and not to have them indoctrinated where they are supposed to be learning math and science?

What about the freedom of individuals and private organizations to preform their duties as they deem good and right? In Mass. churches have lost tax exempt status. why? because they refused to marry same sex couples. So are all organizations supposed to embrace the immoral acts? or is there a line that just shouldn't be crossed?

Joe wrote
at 11:09am on November 6th, 2008
Hi David,
I can't help but chime in, especially since I have 3-4 gay family members and have discussed these issues with them.
Why not take John McCain's advice (I believe he stated this in the last debate) and delete the term marriage from the legal description for both gay and straight people. This seems like it would equalize both parties.
Besides...words are man made, why argue over them? Who cares what the word for civil union or marriage is?
I respect the right of a cultural institution to have their own definitions, but I think we do need to provide equal benefits and allow people to be recognized for what their own cultures hold dear.

David wrote
at 11:14am on November 6th, 2008
Hey Joe!!!

Good to here from you.

You kind of hit the nail on the head. Why do gay partners care if they call it marriage? They already have all the rights that are associated with marriage (at least in California. I don't know about other states). Why are they so angry that they can't call it marriage?

O-Mo wrote
at 11:18am on November 6th, 2008
I'll leave discussion of the potential or perceived consequences to others:

Your question was about why gays want to claim a right to marriage.

And your assertion that it's just emotional is partially true. I dare say that proponents of the proposition are generally every bit as emotionally charged and motivated as opponents. And both sides have legal reasoning.

It is very much about rights, for most. Perhaps it's difficult for you to really put yourself in the scenario I proposed, to imagine that you and Jane are not allowed to call your union a marriage and to be OK with that.

As I see it, the crux is this: the debate is not whether gay relationships are right or wrong or neither, it's whether denying marriage to people based on gender or sexual orientation is legal or discriminatory. IF marriage is a government-sanctioned contract distinguishing a type of relationship, then it is discriminatory to deny it based on sexual orientation. But IF marriage is DEFINED as a male-female relationship, then all are allowed equal access and protection because gay people can "marry" someone of the opposite sex just like straight people, if they so choose. Otherwise, they have a relationship that's just called something else. But that REQUIRES marriage to be explicitly defined as such, which it never has been. Hence the push to define marriage constitutionally, so those who have always thought that's what marriage is can legally reject charges of discrimination.

Joe wrote
at 11:18am on November 6th, 2008
I suppose I am most interested in knowing if people who oppose gay "marriage" would accept having their relationships legally defined as civil unions...

ps. good to hear from you too!

Erin wrote
at 2:18pm on November 6th, 2008
So this begs the question was the term marriage defined by the state or by the churches? Because I am pretty sure that marriages outside of the norm of the churches are often called civil unions.

David wrote
at 3:02pm on November 6th, 2008
Good Point Erin!

I love good discussions.

I am less concerned about the semantics than the consequences. Since you are not in California I should shed a little light on what has been happening here.

"Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1437, which would have prohibited teachers, school districts, textbooks and instructional materials from presenting anything that "reflects adversely upon persons" because of their "sexual orientation which included but had to be removed a portion where "gay history" would be taught. Governor Schwarzenegger also vetoed SB 777 and AB 394 that would require all textbooks, instructional materials, school-sponsored activities, all school policies, and all teacher training courses to promote the transsexual, bisexual and [bleep]sexual lifestyles to children as young as kindergarten."

Those are all subjects that have no purpose in school curriculum.

You may not agree with me but this is what we are dealing with in our schools.

Erin wrote
at 3:18pm on November 6th, 2008
I wasn't agreeing or disagreeing... I don't think those things do need to be taught in schools. Keep it to things that are important... Gay history is not a necessary thing.... It is not like we rounded up homosexuals and put them into slavery... if they choose to reveal their orientation that is up to them, but some of this stuff really doesn't belong in schools.

Frank wrote
at 4:54pm on November 6th, 2008
If the state of California or any other state decides to teach feelings of same-gender attraction as the norm, then they would also need to teach other feelings as normal. Feelings such as rage are normal feelings but when acted upon is where the problem lies. I don't think anyone would appreciate their child coming home from school and stating that their teacher told them it was okay to scream and yell and hit as long as they were angry. I would just like someone to explain to me why just because you have feelings that you have to act on those feelings. Homosexuality is not a noun that describes a condition. It’s an adjective that describes feelings or behavior. Men and women together serve a purpose in this life (procreation). If the norm were same gender attraction the human race would cease to exist. Sorry i got off topic there a little and my purpose is not to offend anyone but I feel that people have gotten a skewed opinion of what is going on in the world, temptations are all around us and come in many forms, including same-gender attraction, pornography, alcohol, and also many other simple everyday things. If we start teaching future generations that just because a few people have decided that its okay means that you have to think its okay, it will be a scary place in a few generations. While considering this also consider that while people who are fighting for gay rights or marriage want to have their freedom of speech they are also extremely quick to regard people who don't agree with them as narrow-minded or homophobic or whatever. Allow all people to have their opinions and then make decisions based on the majority, then live with it, thats what this nation is all about. It may not be perfect but it's the best plan on earth. Sorry this is quick and choppy but only have a few minutes and wanted to get another opinion out there.

David wrote
at 5:52pm on November 6th, 2008
Thank you Frank that was... Well Awesome.

O-Mo wrote
at 6:16pm on November 6th, 2008
I think we have to be careful about insisting the end justifies the means by preemptively limiting the rights of others (the right to "marry", whatever that is defined to be, is a right in and of itself, even if its contingent rights can be gained in other ways) just because NOT doing so might result in something we don't like. People have every right to defend their own interests; I'd just caution against an "us or them" mentality leading to harsh rhetoric, hasty decisions, and beating down pre-perceived enemies. There's too much of that from all sides.

I don't see a reason for "gay history" units for young children. That's just weird. :-) The race/sexual orientation comparison doesn't get far with me. As for teaching homosexuality in schools to young children, I don't remember being taught heterosexuality, so to me, that's a bit of a straw man argument despite the circulating anecdotal stories. Yet analysts seem to believe the schools argument is likely what won the battle for prop 8 in the end. Get people defending their cubs, and emotions run high. :-)

David wrote
at 6:28pm on November 6th, 2008
That is exactly the case (and ultimately what prop 8 was... is about). People want to be able to introduce this stuff to their children when they deem it age appropriate not when the department of education or legislature thinks it is appropriate (which seem to be about birth). Teaching it that young is tantamount to conditioning.

O-Mo wrote
at 6:43pm on November 6th, 2008
I have a logical problem with Frank's statement: if it's simply about legislating morality, why do we not just go ahead and reinstate anti-sodomy laws, incarcerate people for fornication and cohabitation, and fine people for drinking coffee and watching R-rated movies? That's not meant to be inflammatory. I'm just wondering how far you can defend that line of thinking, or where it stops?

As I see it, legislation should be about protecting the most rights, preserving the safety and freedom of the people, even to choose what I don't believe in but which doesn't trample the rights of others. I think many prop 8 supporters believe that's what it was about. They were told their rights would be trampled if it didn't pass. I believe those claims, though valid concerns, were blown way out of proportion. But that's politics.

If you believe people having loving, committed relationships with other people of the same gender (whether that's wicked and contrary to God's plan or not) tramples your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then explain how, and I'll try not to look at you like you're crazy. If you just believe same-sex, romantic relationships are wrong, OK, but that's no defense for legislation in my view.

I wonder if those who defend moral legislation might adopt a slightly more moderated perspective if they spent time in Islamist nations.

Sorry, yes this is all off-track and not really about prop 8, but I had to voice my concern for that kind of reasoning because I think it seduces many kind and good people into dangerous territory in which they feel justified because they're on the "right" side.

O-Mo wrote
at 6:49pm on November 6th, 2008
P.S. -- There are serious logical flaws in comparing anger and same-sex attraction or homosexuality and the expressions thereof. But I'll just voice this much and let it go.

Jared wrote
at 8:52pm on November 6th, 2008
I just wanted to let everyone know that Frank is my brother. :)

Frank wrote
at 9:19pm on November 6th, 2008
I would like to know why people are insisting on redifining the institution of marriage, it has been the basis of civilization for the thousands of years their have been people on this earth. If you take a God given right and try to make it a civil right you will only have God to answer to. To reinterate, who gave man the institution of marriage? Was it the founding fathers? No, it was God, He created man and saw that it was not good that he be alone so he gave unto him a woman, not another man. Now he also gave all of us a right to choose good or evil, so Joe and Joe are free to choose if they would like to be together and if the law allows them to have a civil union, great. That does not give them the right however to change morality, and marriage is a moral issue, a God given right. Changes to God's law have to be made through Him and since He is perfect his laws don't change.
I understand there are logical flaws in any comparison to same gender attraction it was used merely to illustrate a point, not anything more.
I know I am still commenting a little off subject I just feel that the United States as a whole is catering to small groups vs. the majority. We can't stand up for what we believe because we may offend some small group who feels they are being oppressed, and pushed aside. The minority is now the majority becasue the majority is afraid. The founding fathers warned of that but no one wants to listen to those old guys, what did they know anyway?

David wrote
at 9:56pm on November 6th, 2008
O-Mo, you keep talking about rights, but, at least in California, same sex couples have the same rights as married couples. So in the eyes of the government for all intents and purposes there is no difference between a domestic partnership and a marriage. However there is a significant difference to the people.

To the people marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman. That union is created not only for the couple to commit to each other it is also to create the best living environment for raising a family (something ss couples can't do on their own).

So this has nothing to do about rights. But it has everything to do with morals.

O-Mo wrote
at 9:59pm on November 6th, 2008
The discussion is starting to feel circular, so I should probably bow out. If we've left the political debate to dispute what God's will is, I'll leave that for another conversation. Not because I uphold godless government and divorce my personal morality from public policy but because I don't think it applies exactly the way y'all seem to.

The funny thing is, I could possibly be swayed to support the amendment, but not because it's the majority's God-given right to tyrannically force the minority to bend to its will, just like it's not the minority's right to force the majority. Abolitionists were once a minority. And not because marriage has always been between man and woman and that's all I need. Voting was only ever a man's right once upon a time. Voting, slavery, and marriage are distinct issues, but the point is that "tradition" is a weak argument for how things should be.

Maybe I've said all I can or more than I should here in my effort to offer a glimpse of the other side's perspective. Maybe we must amicably agree to disagree. It does trouble me to hear friends I love apparently clueless as to why other friends I love would be so worked up over this issue and not just gratefully taking their civil union rights and going quietly on their way. Some do, and I respect them, but if you don't understand why your brothers and sisters are hurting so deeply over this, how can you... Well, maybe not everyone needs to understand.

I've also tried to help my friends who are deeply pained or amazed that our society is choosing to deny rights to understand the "Yes on 8" side a little more rather than only seeing them as a bunch of hate-mongers meanly refusing homosexuals the opportunity for happiness that heterosexuals take for granted and abuse. I suppose my success rate is about equal on both sides. :-)

With that, thanks for the calm, friendly discussion, all.

Frank wrote
at 11:31pm on November 6th, 2008
O-Mo I would like to let you know that your compasion to both sides is admirable and i appreciate hearing both sides of the spectrum because without it the conversation doesn't go far. Sorry that i got everyone off topic but i think to get to understand why some of us feel the way we do you have to look at the whole picture not the singular issue which is what others would want you to do. Church and politics singularly can be hot topics but when you're trying to draw a line between the two, emotions can run high and things can get blown out of proportion, from both sides. Thanks

David wrote
at 5:27pm on November 7th, 2008
Just to close up on my end. Here in California we parents are slowly loosing our rights to the government. Proposition 8 had more to do with the government and educational system constantly inserting itself into my family business, thinking they know what is best for my family.This proposition was a means to an end. It is about protecting the family's right to choose what and when to teach these things.

I really don't care whether you get married or not. I don't have to agree with your behavior, but if you are trying to shove it down my throat you had better expect some backlash.

That is what Prop 8 was about. At least for me.

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