No on Proposition 8 in CA for procedural, not substantive reasons
I was not in favor of the California Supreme Court's decision that recognized a constitutional right for homosexuals to be "married" under government auspices. See here for my cautious legal/judicial analysis. Simply put, I do not believe the arguments in favor of civil rights for those with darker skin apply with completely equal force in matters of sexual orientation. I also believe the populace should be allowed to draw a cultural line in saying "civil union or domestic partnership, yes--Same sex marriage, no."
I also stated and now state more directly, that we should, as a society, disentangle the primarily religious word "marriage" from government licensing and define marriage as a ceremony performed in a church or temple. Those of us consenting adults who wish to commit to someone to secure government benefits should simply get a license that is for a "civil union" or "domestic partnership." In the case of a dissolution of a civil union, or even a religiously sanctioned ceremony (marriage), the State would retain a compelling interest in the health, safety and interest of children as it relates to visitation and custodian rights.
The goal here is to stop this largely silly argument over the word "marriage" and keep us from wasting our society's time worrying about homosexuals who want to receive a formal government approval for a life commitment to each other.
So, where do I stand on Proposition 8, which would restate the legal proposition that "marriage" is only between a man and a woman?
I am voting NO on Proposition 8.
I hope Proposition 8 fails to pass because, if Prop 8 fails, the next step for ritualistic religious people who have been most motivated about this issue would be to end the State's issuing of "marriage" license, just like the clerk in Kern County, California who stopped performing civil marriage ceremonies around the time of the California Supreme Court's decision supporting same sex marriage (Thanks to a commenter for clarifying the action of the Kern County employee). Such ritualistic religious folks will immediately grasp the persuasiveness of the idea of separating "marriage" from "civil unions" so that homosexuals are not given state "marriage" approval. The idea should appeal as well to those who believe in a separation of church matters from state matters--and those of us, including me, who generally support equal rights for homosexuals. However, we won't get to that reform I am proposing if religiously ritualistic people prevail and Proposition 8 passes. The reform I have set forth, i.e. separating marriage from civil unions for State issued licensing, will not prevail until after Prop 8 fails.
My opposition to Proposition 8, therefore, is procedurally based more than substantively based.
There is also something ugly about the motivations of certain Christians and other ritualistic religious people who are supporting Proposition 8. Their motivations are based mostly on fear, not love. In opposing same sex marriage, they end up quoting Leviticus, which is the Old Testament, and leave out the fact that Leviticus wanted to stone people for missing Shabbat services and adultery, too (See this link from ReligiousTolerance.org that has an interesting interpretation of both the New and Old Testaments that lend support to a civil recognition of same sex marriage). Jesus said nothing directly on the subject of same sex marriage or homosexuality. Also, Jesus' essential sensibility, particularly in response to the attempted stoning of a woman who was an adulterer ("He who is without sin may cast the first stone"), tells me Jesus would not be on street corners holding signs supporting Proposition 8.
In the past few days, I have been shouting (not screaming) from my car across the busy and noisy streets near our home where YES on Proposition 8 supporters are standing on street corners with their yellow signs: "Way to show your Christian love, folks!" or "Jesus would oppose Proposition 8 because those without sin are the only ones who may cast the first stone." This morning, a woman with her yellow sign shouted back, "We love you. Bless you." I responded, "No, you don't love me. And you don't love homosexuals, either. Not very Christian of you!"
I've also put up a NO on Proposition 8 sign on our front lawn to counter the YES on Proposition 8 signs that have sprung up on our neighbors' lawns in our neighborhood (and which appear to have come from local area churches).
1. Prposition 8 supporters present a parade of horribles that will occur if Proposition 8 fails to pass. My wife said this morning, "Aren't these arguments by Prop 8 supporters ridiculous?" I shocked her when I responded that I am saddened to say they may not be as ridiculous as opponents of Prop 8 are saying, even if the Prop 8 supporters' parade of horribles remains unlikely. I say this because of my concern that the California Supreme Court decision supporting a State Constitutional right to same sex marriage undermined piecemeal reformist measures and stopgaps. The decision allowed logic to trump experience in the cultural realm*, such that who knows if the State legislature or State Superintendent of Schools may be able to legally prohibit teachers from reading stories to grade schoolers where a prince marries a prince? Again, however, if we take marriage out of the government's hands and promote only civil unions, our society can legally take a more cautious approach in how it supports, if at all, marriage among homosexuals.
2. I think the YES on Proposition 8 forces will prevail in this election, but it will be a phyrric victory for those who oppose same-sex civil unions or marriage. The younger generation, who have lived in a world of open gays and lesbians, are going to support the legal approval of same sex marriage sooner than later. Sadly, a victory for Proposition 8 will only lead to more arguments and will continue to crowd out important fiscal and financial issues. For example, instead of voting for a politician on the basis of his or her views regarding reforming our state's budgetary process, we'll more often be deciding who to vote for based upon that politician's position on gay marriage. That is a shame for a State like California, upon which much of our nation's economic engine depends.
I therefore urge my fellow Californians to vote NO on Proposition 8. Let's finish this argument over "gay marriage" in a way that promotes fairness and dignity for all Californians, and finish this policy argument over sexual orientation in the realm of our culture, and within the walls of our churches and temples, not our State government county clerk offices.
* As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience."