Jim's Blog Ramblings about novels, comics, programming, and other geek topics

11Oct/081

California Proposition 8 – Eliminates Right of Same-sex Couples to Marry

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Overview

Official Summary

  • Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.
  • Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.


Arguments & Rebuttals

Read Official Arguments & Rebuttals

California Voter Information Guide provides the following legislative analysis about Proposition 8.

In May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that the statute enacted by Proposition 22 and other statutes that limit marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. It also held that individuals of the same sex have the right to marry under the California Constitution. As a result of the ruling, marriage between individuals of the same sex is currently valid or recognized in the state.

This measure amends the California Constitution to specify that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. As a result, notwithstanding the California Supreme Court ruling of May 2008, marriage would be limited to individuals of the opposite sex, and individuals of the same sex would not have the right to marry in California.

Sacramento Bee opinion article states:

Just as an individual's sexual orientation is not a legitimate basis on which to deny housing or a job, it is not a legitimate basis on which to deny individuals the right to marry. Californians should reject the call to amend the state constitution to exclude some people from marriage. That would be a black mark on the constitution, just as past exclusionary acts remain a stain on California's history.

Argument in favor
Argument against

My View

I feel like this is the only no-brainer (easy) decision on the ballot. This is really the only proposition on this year's ballot that I have a strong feeling towards.

This costs no money to anyone and doesn't affect anyone or anything. Although, I still feel that same-sex marriages will save money since we'll only need to produce a single marriage form instead of two state documents (marriage and civil union forms). By making only one state document instead of multiple, should save money, right? Money isn't really an argument for or against this proposition, so don't take this paragraph as serious commentary.

This proposition is so popular that even Google has an official position on it (they oppose it). I have blogged about this issue when the court ruled that Proposition 22 (voted for in 2000 with 61% of vote) violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. I've also commented a bit on this issue.

Opponents argue that this (if same-sex couples are allowed to marry) will usher in the downfall of mankind and the apocalypse. But back in reality, this will give everyone the same rights. Right now in California, same-sex couples can get married whereas before they could get civil-unions. These weren't the same nor did they have the exact same benefits.

I see this cause as very similar to the segregation, women's suffrage, and interracial marriage where the majority oppressed minorities until the justice branch overruled the laws or society advanced.

Voter Majority versus Moral and Civil Rights

One of the first arguments the proponents suggest is that "activists judges overturned the will of the people." I believe that the intent here is to suggest that this is another "us vs them" argument which somehow tries to side the proponents with all voters versus the government.

My view is that there is a reason why we have three branches of government. There is also a reason why the U.S.A. is not ruled by popular vote. We elect representatives and executives, so we don't need to vote on every issue and they appoint judges to make sure that the laws they create are within constitutional bounds.

The previous proposition was poorly worded and when the judges reviewed it, they found that it violated part of the Equal Rights clauses of the California Constitution. If you are old enough, then you'll know that the 1948 ruling stated that whites can marry non-whites - that overturned the California Constitutional amendment that outlawed interracial marriages in the state of California. I've blogged about the Prez v. Sharp ruling. In that case, a black man and Mexican woman who were denied marriage by the CA law was overturned and allowed to marry (note: in the early and mid 1900s Mexican descendants where considered white, so this was a white/black interracial marriage case).

Marriages versus Civil Unions

Note: In California, Civil Unions are called "domestic partnerships."

Some proponents argue that they are just protecting "marriage" and that same-sex couples get the same rights under Civil Unions. Well, I don't believe that argument either.

Tangent: I find it amusing that the same people that fund the majority of the opposition supported polygamy until about 110 years ago. I don't see how polygamy protects the word marriage either. They now believe that polygamy is only allowed when it is specifically authorized by God.

This "separate but equal" argument is false. FactCheck.org web site is operated by the non-partisan Annenberg Foundation. They summarize the differences between a marriage and a civil union:

When politicians say they support civil unions but not marriage for people of the same sex, what do they mean?

1. The right to federal benefits. States that allow some type of same-sex union are able to grant only state rights. The Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 prohibits same-sex couples from receiving federal marriage rights and benefits.

2. Portability. Because civil unions are not recognized by all states, such agreements are not always valid when couples cross state lines.

-- What Is a Civil Union, FactCheck.org (Aug 9, 2007)

I don't believe that you can ever have a separate but equal services. As anyone that was alive in the 1950s or 1960s know (or anyone that has taken a high school course on US History should know). In fact, the US Supreme court endorsed the "separate but equal" stance on Plessy v. Ferguson. Several years later, the US Supreme Court overruled that ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

Separate but equal is a set phrase denoting the system of segregation that justifies giving different groups of people separate facilities or services with the declaration that the quality of each group's public facilities remain equal.

I believe that eventually (hopefully in my lifetime), this will finally make it to the US Supreme Court. Supporters of same-sex marriages can use the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution to support their argument. The clause is stated as:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.

-- Amendment 14, Section 1, Clause 2 of US Constitution

In legal terms, I believe that marriage is a privilege since it is a license granted by states. A right (as opposed to a privilege) is an entitlement granted by the "creator" (aka God).

Marriage is for Reproducing

This is the most humorous argument that I've seen. In fact, a commenter used this as part of his argument in my comments section.

To eradicate the recognition of the very important role of family in pro-creating for society and wash it into whatever you "feel" is right is detrimental to the society as a whole.

-- George, commenter on a previous post

Here's some facts:

  1. Not everyone who has children get married
  2. Not everyone who gets married has children
  3. Not everyone who has children should have children
  4. Most people that should have children don't have children
  5. Not every sexual act has a reproductive function

For support of #3 and #4, go watch the Idiocracy movie for an entertaining argument in support of this bullet).

500 years in the future... They discover that the world has devolved into a dystopia where marketing, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid human society.

I understand where this argument comes from. It is trying to say that homosexuals will stop humans from producing more humans and the survival of the human race is in jeopardy. Anyone with common sense, should see how silly this argument is when it is expanded upon.

Now, if they were against homosexuality on the grounds of saving the human race, then that would be different argument. Here we are just talking about marriage. You don't need to condone the act of being homosexual to support their right to get married.

But more importantly, I'm glad that the our government doesn't base granting marriage licenses on whether or not the couple can produce children. Do you really want the government to start require fertility tests before you get married? I didn't think so. That's why this argument is absurd.

The Will of the People

The will of the people (popular vote) is catching up with the times. As reported by numerous California newspapers this year, a majority of Californians support same-sex marriages.

According to the nonpartisan Field Poll, 51 percent of California registered voters favor allowing same-sex couples to marry, 42 percent are opposed and 7 percent have no opinion.

-- Bill Ainsworth, Union Tribune, May 2008

I believe that sometimes the majority can be wrong. That's why we have the judicial branch. Hopefully, (not always) they'll take a non-partisan stance and rule based on equal rights. We've seen that judges don't always get things right on the first go around (see SCOTUS cases involving civil rights), but eventually they get it right.

I'm glad that everything isn't based on public opinion or popular vote. That would require all citizens vote on everything and with our low voter turnout, only the most outspoken (and usually extreme) voices will be heard. It's easy to see that the majority could easily oppress the minorities if it was left up to popular vote.

Marriage is Sacred

Another argument is that marriage is a sacred religious sacrament. This argument is flawed, because opponents are saying that our government laws should be governed by their religion. This doesn't really address the fact that the US is a secular country and not a Christian theocracy where our laws are based on beliefs, superstitions, or thousands year old books that also support lots of other worse things.

What if some religious groups declared that a certain type of tree were sacred - would the government be obligated to prevent anyone from cutting down that species and making furniture out of it? Some religious groups prohibit the remarriage of people who have gone through civil divorce proceedings. Should the government therefore pass civil laws that prohibit divorce, or at least the remarriage of divorced persons?

-- Austin Cline, Arguments Against Gay Marriage

Just because someone considers something to be sacred, doesn't mean that everyone else should be forced to believe the same thing.

Same-sex Marriage is Unnatural

I disagree with this. First, there are natural physical distinctions between men and women - that's obvious to everyone.

Since we can't talk to animals, yet, we'll have to judge them on their behaviors instead of their spoken or written arguments. The results of watching their behaviors suggest that homosexual behavior is common among animals. So stating that it's unnatural is just being intelligently disingenuous.

Clara Moskowitz of LiveScience writes:

According to University of Oslo zoologist Petter Böckman, about 1,500 animal species are known to practice same-sex coupling, including bears, gorillas, flamingos, owls, salmon and many others.

...

"Not every sexual act has a reproductive function," said Janet Mann, a biologist at Georgetown University who studies dolphins (homosexual behavior is very common in these marine mammals). "That's true of humans and non-humans."

-- Homosexuality Common in the Wild, Scientists Say (Live Science)

Footnote

In case anyone believes that I'm biased, I openly disclose that I'm a happy heterosexual (that means straight, not-gay, not-homosexual). 

I'm very strongly opposed to this proposition.

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James Welch

James Welch is a software engineer in Vermont working for a large information technology company and specializing in .NET. Additionally, he holds a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science. Jim also enjoys local craft beer, comic books, and science-fiction and fantasy novels, games, and movies.

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Comments (1) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I am surprised to see no one has tried to butcher your blog for this yet. Maybe no one can try to find anything valid to say given what you have already written here.

    America is not a country that takes rights away from people. That is against the fundamental of the country. So I agree.

    Vote NO on prop 8.


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