The reaction to Tuesday’s decision by the California Supreme Court to uphold the voter approved Proposition 8 amendment to the state’s constitution, defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, has galvanized the nation. I have yet to run into anyone who doesn’t have an opinion on this topic. Of all the headlines screaming at us right now, this one is grabbing the most attention.
Why is that?
Well, it has more to do with human rights than anything. Just last year this same court ruled that denying marriage to same sex couples was illegal. I have to agree that it is. The U.S. Constitution outlines very clearly that all Americans have certain and unalienable rights. Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Expression are among those. Therefore, any law that forces the beliefs of one group onto another is, by definition, illegal. In enforcing Proposition 8, the California high court has in effect done just that. It has ruled that the civil rights of same sex couples are not as important as those of others.
This is what troubles me about the whole debacle. How can a law making entity change its stance on a subject so unashamedly? They made no provisions for the same sex couples either, except for decreeing that those married before Prop 8 was passed could remain so, and they completely disregarded the rights of those who were planning to get married, as well as those who one day will want to. They allowed the public to pass an amendment that blatantly discriminates against an entire portion of society.
They have also set the stage for another showdown with voters over this matter. Advocates for same sex marriage are already preparing their proposed repeal of Proposition 8. The only good thing I see coming from the week’s events is that if the California population does vote down the ban on same sex marriage next year, the court will have to uphold the decision of the people again. And you can just bet that the repeal’s opponents will be jumping up and down if this comes to pass.
I personally know several people who were devastated by what happened on Tuesday. I was disgusted for them by it. To have their rights taken away from them in such a cavalier and illegal manner made me wonder if this was America. When other states in the Union are now allowing same sex marriage, for California to do an about face and decide that gays are not as good as everybody else is just unacceptable. They might as well allow amendments that restrict blacks from marrying whites and Asians from marrying Hispanics, and so on and so forth. It’s the very same thing. No question about it. People are who they are and they are what they are. You could no more ask a gay person to change his or her sexual orientation than you could ask a Chinaman to turn British.
I had a long email conversation with a friend concerning this subject. He couldn’t understand what all the hubbub was about when the California court’s decision didn’t change anything except that gays couldn’t call their unions marriage. I proposed that he think of it in the manner of putting himself into the equation. I asked him to suppose for a minute that he and I were a same sex couple who lived together and planned our lives together and loved each other. Just like any other couple in the world. Then I asked him to imagine how he’d feel if we decided we wanted to be married and were told that we couldn’t. He seemed to have a different outlook after thinking of it in this way.
And this is the crux of the outrage against upholding Proposition 8. People aren’t classified as first class or second class based upon who or what they are. At least they aren’t supposed to be. But California has decided that they can be. California has all but blatantly said that they will allow a voter approved amendment that steps on the rights of millions of people to stand.
The fight is not over. I have a feeling that in 2010 Proposition 8 will be repealed. Within our lifetimes I also have the feeling that all states in the Union will be either recognizing the legality of same sex marriage, whether they permit them or not, and when you come down to it there is no legal argument against it. Religion can’t come into the picture because we have a freedom of this in the Constitution. You can’t say that it threatens the family unit because adultery and abuse and alcoholism and drug addiction do more to destroy families than anything else. We don’t prevent alcoholics or drug addicts from getting married. Nor do we tell abusers and adulterers that they can’t get married. It’s an oxymoron to even try and put the argument into this context.
Looking forward, I think that California’s shame is going to benefit the cause of same sex marriage in the long run. I don’t think it’s fair what happened, nor will I support it, but I do think that what has transpired will ultimately be the undoing of those who created this fracas by engineering Proposition 8 in the first place. I don’t often quote the bible but I see this as a case of what you reap you will also sow, and you better be careful what you wish for.
You just might get it.
And that is my sole focus for now...