Proposition 8: Fundamentalism, Fear, or Fight?
[Analysis] Voting on same-sex marriage in California
Email Article  Print Article Michael Solis (msolis)    
On Nov. 4, Californians will be deciding on more than just who will win their 55 electoral votes. They will also be voting on whether or not gay and lesbian couples will retain their constitutional right to marriage.

In May the Supreme Court of California overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, making California the second state after Massachusetts to allow same-sex marriage. Ever since, conservatives have been pouring millions of dollars into propaganda and ad campaigns to convince Californians to amend the constitution with Proposition 8. "Prop 8," as it is known, states "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California" and would overturn over 11,000 same-sex marriages.

According to protectmarriage.com, the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage "redefined marriage for the rest of society, without ever asking the people themselves to accept this decision." In a single paragraph, the site highlights the "far-reaching" consequences of gay marriage in California, which include: 1) teaching children that traditional marriage is the same as gay marriage, because schools are required to teach the role of marriage in society, 2) opening the doorway for "any kind of marriage", and 3) undermining the value of marriage. Simultaneously, they claim that Prop 8 is "not an attack on gay couples and does not take away the rights that same-sex couples already have under California's domestic partner law."

Noonprop8.com argues that Prop 8 is an unfair piece of discriminatory legislature that would treat people differently from one another by eliminating a fundamental right. On its Facts v. Fiction page, the site responds to the pro-Prop 8 camp's claims, stating that Prop 8 is in fact discriminatory as Californian law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (as well as gender, race, and religion).

Proponents of Prop 8 include the Roman Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus, the Union of Orthodox Congregations of America, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and Republican presidential nominee John McCain, among others. Those against the proposition include liberal religious leaders, the nonpartisan League of Women Voters, the California Teachers Association, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the mayors of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, ten of the California's largest newspapers, Google, Margaret Cho, Ellen Degeneres, and Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden, among others.

Speaking out against Prop 8, California Superintendent of Schools, Jack O'Connell, publicly stated that "Prop 8 has nothing to do with schools or kids. Our schools are not required to teach anything about marriage, and using kids to lie about that is shameful." Senator Dianne Feinstein bolstered the argument, highlighting that Prop 8 is "not about schools or kids; it's about discrimination, and we must always say no to that."

The thread that weaves the arguments of Prop 8 supporters is tacit fear. Supporters of Prop 8 have decided to use children as lens through which to convince voters to support their cause. Exaggerated concerns that children will be subjected to learning about homosexuality "in every subject, at every level", as mother Robin Wirthlin states in a Protect Marriage interview, or that they are too young to be exposed to the idea of same-sex marriage are softer veils to present before other more "adult" concerns. Supporters are also afraid that they will be sued over their personal beliefs and that churches could lose their tax exemption status. This is in light of the fact that the May Supreme Court ruling states that "no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples."

The United States finds itself at a turning point in the debate of redefining marriage. Conservatives are fearful of a rupture in a tradition that, for them, has always been and should always be between one man and one woman. Their heteronormative campaign, strengthened mainly by churches and other houses of worship, invokes moral and religious arguments to justifiably allow the right to marriage to only a majority of heterosexual partnerships. For opponents of Prop 8, this is an inherently violent type of 21st century separate-but-equal politics.

Conservatives have uplifted a series of extraordinary examples to convince voters that "we will not survive if we lose the institution of marriage," as was stated by Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, a Christian lobby group. They have cited a failed court case against a school district in Massachusetts where a teacher read a story about two princes who fell in love to her second-graders, a homophobic priest in Sweden who was arrested for a month after delivering a hate speech before his followers, and Catholic Charities' decision to stop offering adoption services in Boston. They see the deformational recourse undertaken by others as direct effects of the legislation, not as choices made from emanating to the unquestioned sources of tradition and fundamentalist thought.

Those against Prop 8 do not believe that the deformational actions of others in response to gay marriage should be cause for its banning. Instead, they defend same-sex marriage by showing that in nations and states where same-sex marriage is legal, no one has been harmed and society has not collapsed into an apocalyptic state as a result. They have also responded to the issues with educational, informative, and respectful ads that include people from different backgrounds, including opposite-sex married couples in California, who can testify that the state has not become a more dangerous or threatening place simply because people in love are getting married.

Ellen DeGeneres, one of the leading opponents of Prop 8, caught considerable media attention in September with her marriage to Portia de Rossi. Ellen, a widely popular actress, comedian, and talk show host, also quadruples as humanitarian who has raised millions of dollars for a variety of causes, including AIDS, animal rights, at-risk and disadvantaged children, cancer, disaster relief, hunger, poverty, and women.

Recently on Jay Leno, Ellen stated that there is much more to worry about in the United States right now than raising millions of dollars to promote hate. Leno agreed, warning that although it may sound "corny," he thought two people who want to be together should be together.

The same ebullient Ellen who asked John McCain if he would walk her down the isle at her wedding ceremony became suddenly serious. "I don't think that's corny to say there's not enough love in the world because it's true, and we're going through hard times right now."

Feel free to leave comments, but please, no discrimination!

2008/10/30 오전 4:50
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