Kellia’s World – Recommended Reading

Challenging the assumptions we live by — Because I want to.

Posts Tagged ‘equal protection’

Another Straight Californian Against Prop 8!

Posted by kelliasworld on November 3, 2008

Hello. I’m Kellia Ramares of Oakland, California. And I have a message for voters in my state: Please vote NO on Proposition 8. Proposition 8 would outlaw same-sex marriage. That would take away fundamental rights from certain of our citizens.


Those who are against same-sex marriage want to impose their beliefs on all the rest of us. Now they would argue that we opponents of this proposition are trying to impose our beliefs on them. But all we are saying is: “Live and Let Live” and “Equal Rights for All.” The legal recognition of same-sex marriage will not require straight people to engage in gay relationships. No heterosexual marriages are dissolved by the state by virtue of last May’s court decision allowing same-sex marriages. The rights and responsibilities of heterosexual married couples are not changed one iota. And the churches and clergy that do not believe in same-sex marriage have constitutional rights to not bless such unions.


On the other hand, Prop 8 would deny the fundamental human right to marry and establish a family to certain of our citizens because of the religious beliefs of other citizens. That goes a lot farther than having to tolerate something you don’t approve of.


It is interesting to see who some of the biggest contributors to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign are. You have the Mormon Church, which used to practice polygamy. (And some of its fundamentalists still do, as we have witnessed in the news within the past year. These fundamentalists are not officially members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but who knows if they might be members today if the Church had not been forced to abandon polygamy as a condition for allowing Utah to become a state). There is all this talk by the Yes on 8 people about traditional marriage. (Which, again, is not changed or abolished by the existence of same-sex marriage). What tradition? The Bible, with its story of Jacob and his two wives, the sisters Rachel and Leah, and his two concubines, the maids of Rachel and Leah. And also the story of King Solomon, who had 900 wives and concubines? Are we going back to that?


The Catholic Church, especially through the Knights of Columbus, is another major contributor to Yes on 8. That Church has celibate men making rules about marriage?! And some of those celibate men have been involved in sex abuse scandals with children, or the cover-up of same. This is the institution that is telling the people of the state of California who should be married and who should not be in the eyes of the civil law? I don’t think so.


I really wish that the state did not have anything to say about marriage. But in our legal system, rights and responsibilities are determined by status and relationship. That’s true, not only for marriage, but for employer-employee, property holders uphill and downhill, and myriad other ways in which people relate to each other. Therefore, same-sex couples and families need legal recognition, and, thanks to the separation of church and state in this country, they can have that legal recognition without interfering with the religious beliefs of others.


As for teaching about same-sex marriage in the schools, so what? Parents can still tell their children, “Yes, that’s legal in this state, but we don’t approve of it because…” They should not ask the state to do their parenting for them by sheltering their children from all ideas with which they disagree. True education teaches students how to think; it doesn’t program students to accept values handed down by authority figures uncritically. Straight children will grow up to marry the opposite sex no matter what they are taught in school about same-sex marriage. And I hope that we are past the era when gays and lesbians felt pressured to have straight marriages. That sort of thing causes so much pain, as we all saw with the McGreaveys of New Jersey, when the husband, then governor of New Jersey, acknowledged he was gay and left his office and his wife.


We have recognized in this country, at least as long as the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, that “separate but equal is inherently unequal.” So it’s not right to say “If gays want to inherit property or visit each other in the hospital, they can have civil unions. But only we, the straight people, can have marriage.” Chances are you don’t know all over the rights that come with marriage. I certainly don’t. But I know that there are thousands of them on the state and federal levels, which have arisen at different times for different purposes, and that a status such as civil union or domestic partnership misses most of them if the law allowing such unions tries to enumerate them all. So the allegedly “separate but equal” status is nowhere near to being equal. And even legislation that purports to give civil unions the same force of law as marriage without the name still isn’t equal, because, by giving that relationship a different name, married people can say, “They are not like us.” The purpose of equality before the law is to say that all similarly-situated people are legally treated the same. There is no stigmatizing one group while rewarding another much like it.


It’s ironic that some straight people advocate civil unions/domestic partnerships, “just don’t call it marriage,” because in the early days of the gay rights movement, straight people were arguing, “Oh, the gay people don’t want equal rights, they want special rights.” Well, now it’s the other way around, isn’t it? Straight people proclaim that only their relationships deserve the designation “Marriage.”


One of the arguments that is given against same-sex marriage is that “traditional” marriage is “sacred” and somehow same-sex marriage diminishes the sanctity of “traditional” marriage. (How, I don’t know). The bottom line is that the government is not in the business of securing the sanctity of marriage or anything else. The government is supposed to be in the business of securing equal rights for all those who are similarly situated. That’s the basis of our laws. And so same-sex families should have the same rights and responsibilities under the law as hetero families. Anything less is un-American.


If you want to talk about threats to the sanctity of marriage, talk about the rate of divorce there is in hetero marriages. One would think that if same-sex couples want to get married, that would reiterate the importance of marriage in our society, not weaken it.


So, to be fair, we need to recognize the difference between the civil contract of marriage and the religious bond of marriage, and fact that they should remain separate. I know that there are some people who would like to abolish the separation of church and state. But, no, we have it for a reason. People whose religions say “no gay marriage”can opt to stay with that point of view. They are free to have “traditional” marriage, as they call it. But religious views on marriage are trumped by the principle of equality before the law within the civil sphere.


If we allow Prop 8 to pass, what comes next? “Marriage is sacred, therefore, atheists will no longer be allowed to marry.” If we are allowed to vote on other people’s marriages, we could someday be facing that question in the voting booth. Or we could go back to the days when interracial marriage was illegal. Shall we once again say that married women cannot hold property? Or, going farther afield, that immigrants cannot engage in certain occupations? (Ancient Athens forbade freed slaves to be farmers). We would no longer have equal protection of the laws. We would have the tyranny of whatever majority can be cobbled together by prejudice, money, ignorance of what was being voted on, or passions of the moment. The tyranny of the majority was exactly the thing our Founders were afraid of.


People who are against same-sex marriage don’t want to have to tolerate it. But why not? I have to tolerate people who do not believe in evolution, who think the war in Iraq is a good thing and that George W. Bush has done a good job as President. I would not vote to intern such people as Japanese-Americans were interned in World War II. And I would not vote against their right to marry.


VOTE NO ON PROP 8!

Posted in Election '08, Prop 8 (CA) | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »