Why Prop 8 Impacts All of Us

Until I attended law school, my strongest exposure to court rooms came from an old “L.A. Law” addiction.  (If you don’t know what that is, do me a favor and don’t depress me by asking.  Think “Boston Legal” for the 80s.)  One of my girlfriends in grad school came from a family with a strong legal tradition and was a lot savvier than me when it came to actual courtroom experience.  For years, her father argued cases in front of the Supreme Court and I listened with interest as she shared insider’s knowledge.  Jennifer said that one of the hardest things to explain to her dad’s clients was that by the time the cases reached the Supreme Court, they were not about them.  They had become cases about the law and the way the law is interpreted for everyone.

I’ve been thinking about that lesson this morning, as the California Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to Proposition 8.  It’s been a hard thing to explain to the people of California – and the country- that Proposition 8 is not just a case about same-sex marriage.  It’s a case about the rights of all minority populations in California.

If that doesn’t seem obvious, let me explain.  The California Constitution, like all constitutions provides fundamental rights for those under its jurisdiction.  Last year, the state Supreme Court ruled that marriage was a fundamental right and must be extended to same-sex couples.  When Californians voted for Proposition 8, they voted to take away a fundamental right of a minority group.  The case is really about whether we can allow fundamental rights to be taken away from citizens by majority vote.  Do the majority of voters have the power to take away constitutional rights from any group?  The answer must be no. Otherwise, every minority group based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender, is vulnerable.  Without the security of equal protection under the law, all minority groups are at risk of losing fundamental rights whenever the majority decides to take them away.

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87 thoughts on “Why Prop 8 Impacts All of Us

  1. I agree, voters shouldn't be allowed to take away constitutional rights from any group. It is immoral. It is wrong.

    However, Prop 8 has not taken any rights away. Under Civil Unions, the GLBT community still has the same rights as "marriages" do. Prop 8 is defining the word marriage.

    Does the GLBT community deserve to have visiting rights at hospitals? Yes. Do they deserve to have a government recognized relationship? Yes. This is not about taking rights away.

    As a society, should we call all genders "man" to ensure equality? That way cops would be able to easily understand perp descriptions given by victims.

    As a society, should we call all living quarters "houses" so as not to imply any financial distresses of someone living in an apartment or condo (whether they prefer living in smaller quarters)?

    Should we call all races "white" because, hey, white was the first race referenced?

    Perhaps we should call the elderly young. We don't want them to feel as if they aren't hip anymore.

    I admit, these sound extreme, but what it comes down to is the GLBT community deserves rights, but that is not what Prop 8 is about. It is about clarifying wording. We need different words to describe different things.

    If you disagree, talk to Elton John (he's a blessed man).

  2. I agree, voters shouldn’t be allowed to take away constitutional rights from any group. It is immoral. It is wrong.

    However, Prop 8 has not taken any rights away. Under Civil Unions, the GLBT community still has the same rights as “marriages” do. Prop 8 is defining the word marriage.

    Does the GLBT community deserve to have visiting rights at hospitals? Yes. Do they deserve to have a government recognized relationship? Yes. This is not about taking rights away.

    As a society, should we call all genders “man” to ensure equality? That way cops would be able to easily understand perp descriptions given by victims.

    As a society, should we call all living quarters “houses” so as not to imply any financial distresses of someone living in an apartment or condo (whether they prefer living in smaller quarters)?

    Should we call all races “white” because, hey, white was the first race referenced?

    Perhaps we should call the elderly young. We don’t want them to feel as if they aren’t hip anymore.

    I admit, these sound extreme, but what it comes down to is the GLBT community deserves rights, but that is not what Prop 8 is about. It is about clarifying wording. We need different words to describe different things.

    If you disagree, talk to Elton John (he’s a blessed man).

  3. Thank you Julie, you took the words out of my mouth. I couldn't have said it better.

    This isn't an issue of rights, it is an issue of the word "MARRIAGE"

    Words have meanings ie…Marriage – "the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, or religious ceremonies".

    Take the issue up with the dictionary, not the supreme court. In the meantime, enjoy all the rights a "CIVIL UNION" has and STOP misleading people into believing your constitutional rights are being violated when they aren't.

  4. The problem is that the state provides marriage to straight people but not gay people, and there is no good reason for the state to do this. That's discrimination. The clinically insane have an inalienable right to marry but gays don't. The word means a lot. Keeping gays from being able to marry sends the very plain message that for no other reason than you are different and less than, you cannot marry. It's hateful and destructive. You'd think gays wanted to engage in some sort of socially destructive activity, but no… we just want to get married. What's so awful about that?

  5. Fundamentally, the term that is most fitting for old, young, gay, straight, black, white, hispanic, asian etc is that we are all human. On this basis, we are entitled to our human rights and Prop 8 removed this right from a minority of human beings in California.

    Human beings have the right to marry and this right should be available to those in opposite and same-sex relationships.

    Marriage equality demands that those in same-sex relationships have the right to marry for many reasons, including the fact that civil unions and domestic partnerships simply do not carry the same weight as a marriage. Even if these unions give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married individuals, by failing to call these unions marriages these relationships are not being given equal recognition and respect by society. Look at what is going on in the states where civil unions and domestic partnerships operate. Employers, state officials, insurance companies etc. still don't understand what civil unions mean and discrimination continues.

    If we're working to bring equality to all, then it should be in both name and substance.

    Moreover, I disagree that with the contention that different words should describe different things. My view is that human beings are composed from a multitude of overlapping identities and pidgeon-holing people into categories in order to make life easier is both unhelpful and dangerous. An individual can be, for example, hispanic, female, someone's daughter, thin, physically-disabled, short, gay, a mother, with dual nationality, resident in a third country and yet still be human. How would this human being be labelled to encompass all these identities? I suggest they should not and cannot.

    Labelling is ultimately an unsatisfactory and over-simplistic exercise. At the core, we are all human and when dealing with fundamental human rights the most helpful currency to deal in is our common humanity.

  6. Julie and Brian, thanks for writing in. A couple of clarifications:

    1. Civil marriage is not the equivalent of civil unions. There is a HUGE difference. Civil unions aren't available in the vast majority of states. Civil unions (and domestic partnerships for that matter) don't carry the same rights as marriage. There is no universal recognition of civil unions so rights will not travel with the couple if they move to another state. On top of that civil unions and domestic partnerships don't offer the same federal rights as marriage. These aren't even close to offering the same rights.

    2. Prop 8 did take away rights guaranteed under the CA Constitution. In May of 2008, the CA Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry under the state constitution. When Prop 8 defined marriage as between members of the opposite sex, it excluded an entire class of people from accessing what the court has ruled is a constitutional right.

    3. Under international law, marriage is a human right. It is also a human right not to be discriminated against in accessing one's human rights because of sexual orientation. Hence, under international human rights law, states can't discriminate in issuing marriage licenses based on sexual orientation.

  7. Even though I am all for gay marriage, I think people should think about the rights of the majority- the voters. If prop 8 is overturned, however good that will be for the GLBT community, it means that any piece of law that voters approve, even a law that protects human rights, can be overturned.
    I hope they can work out a compromise.

  8. I would suggest focusing on laws that discriminate against civil unions. Focus and going after the states and federal laws that deny the same rights to a gay couple's civil union. You would get MUCH more support and achieve the desired results — EQUAL RIGHTS.

    Marriage is Marriage [Period] [a Husband and a Wife] always has been and always SHOULD be. It is no more "discriminating" then the words Man, Woman, Child, Catholic, Muslim, Homosexual, Hetrosexual, etc.

    She may or may not have a law degree or the liberal education provided by UC Berkley, but I agree with the other poster "julie" on this as does 52 1/2 percent of California [the most liberal state in the union]. It's not about denying GLBT rights, it is about the sanctity and meaning of the word marriage.

  9. Thank you Julie, you took the words out of my mouth. I couldn’t have said it better.

    This isn’t an issue of rights, it is an issue of the word “MARRIAGE”

    Words have meanings ie…Marriage – “the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, or religious ceremonies”.

    Take the issue up with the dictionary, not the supreme court. In the meantime, enjoy all the rights a “CIVIL UNION” has and STOP misleading people into believing your constitutional rights are being violated when they aren’t.

  10. The problem is that the state provides marriage to straight people but not gay people, and there is no good reason for the state to do this. That’s discrimination. The clinically insane have an inalienable right to marry but gays don’t. The word means a lot. Keeping gays from being able to marry sends the very plain message that for no other reason than you are different and less than, you cannot marry. It’s hateful and destructive. You’d think gays wanted to engage in some sort of socially destructive activity, but no… we just want to get married. What’s so awful about that?

  11. Fundamentally, the term that is most fitting for old, young, gay, straight, black, white, hispanic, asian etc is that we are all human. On this basis, we are entitled to our human rights and Prop 8 removed this right from a minority of human beings in California.

    Human beings have the right to marry and this right should be available to those in opposite and same-sex relationships.

    Marriage equality demands that those in same-sex relationships have the right to marry for many reasons, including the fact that civil unions and domestic partnerships simply do not carry the same weight as a marriage. Even if these unions give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married individuals, by failing to call these unions marriages these relationships are not being given equal recognition and respect by society. Look at what is going on in the states where civil unions and domestic partnerships operate. Employers, state officials, insurance companies etc. still don’t understand what civil unions mean and discrimination continues.

    If we’re working to bring equality to all, then it should be in both name and substance.

    Moreover, I disagree that with the contention that different words should describe different things. My view is that human beings are composed from a multitude of overlapping identities and pidgeon-holing people into categories in order to make life easier is both unhelpful and dangerous. An individual can be, for example, hispanic, female, someone’s daughter, thin, physically-disabled, short, gay, a mother, with dual nationality, resident in a third country and yet still be human. How would this human being be labelled to encompass all these identities? I suggest they should not and cannot.

    Labelling is ultimately an unsatisfactory and over-simplistic exercise. At the core, we are all human and when dealing with fundamental human rights the most helpful currency to deal in is our common humanity.

  12. Julie and Brian, thanks for writing in. A couple of clarifications:

    1. Civil marriage is not the equivalent of civil unions. There is a HUGE difference. Civil unions aren’t available in the vast majority of states. Civil unions (and domestic partnerships for that matter) don’t carry the same rights as marriage. There is no universal recognition of civil unions so rights will not travel with the couple if they move to another state. On top of that civil unions and domestic partnerships don’t offer the same federal rights as marriage. These aren’t even close to offering the same rights.

    2. Prop 8 did take away rights guaranteed under the CA Constitution. In May of 2008, the CA Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry under the state constitution. When Prop 8 defined marriage as between members of the opposite sex, it excluded an entire class of people from accessing what the court has ruled is a constitutional right.

    3. Under international law, marriage is a human right. It is also a human right not to be discriminated against in accessing one’s human rights because of sexual orientation. Hence, under international human rights law, states can’t discriminate in issuing marriage licenses based on sexual orientation.

  13. I don't understand what the objection is to the state sanctioning gay marriage. What exactly is the argument? That it's about a word and the definition of a word? Is that REALLLLY what it's about? People spending millions of millions of dollars and time fighting hard to keep a DEFINITION?

  14. Even though I am all for gay marriage, I think people should think about the rights of the majority- the voters. If prop 8 is overturned, however good that will be for the GLBT community, it means that any piece of law that voters approve, even a law that protects human rights, can be overturned.
    I hope they can work out a compromise.

  15. Steve-

    Amen, I agree. The people have spoken, move on to bigger issues like rights for civil union couples. Why are so many wasting there time on a word?

  16. I would suggest focusing on laws that discriminate against civil unions. Focus and going after the states and federal laws that deny the same rights to a gay couple’s civil union. You would get MUCH more support and achieve the desired results — EQUAL RIGHTS.

    Marriage is Marriage [Period] [a Husband and a Wife] always has been and always SHOULD be. It is no more “discriminating” then the words Man, Woman, Child, Catholic, Muslim, Homosexual, Hetrosexual, etc.

    She may or may not have a law degree or the liberal education provided by UC Berkley, but I agree with the other poster “julie” on this as does 52 1/2 percent of California [the most liberal state in the union]. It’s not about denying GLBT rights, it is about the sanctity and meaning of the word marriage.

  17. "Proposition 8, defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman". Says NOTHING about limiting or taking away or refusing rights to civil unions. I'll defend EVERYONES rights…if this Prop 8 "TOOK AWAY" from civil unions I would have voted against it and may have joined a march or two as well. I'm sure it wouldn't have stood up in court if it attacked civil unions. But it didn't. Democracy in action, sometimes you like the results, sometimes you don't.

  18. In a democracy, not every law and not every right is up for popular vote. One of the underpinings of democracy is the constitution's ability to protect minority groups from having fundamental rights taken away by the majority.

  19. I don’t understand what the objection is to the state sanctioning gay marriage. What exactly is the argument? That it’s about a word and the definition of a word? Is that REALLLLY what it’s about? People spending millions of millions of dollars and time fighting hard to keep a DEFINITION?

  20. Steve-

    Amen, I agree. The people have spoken, move on to bigger issues like rights for civil union couples. Why are so many wasting there time on a word?

  21. “Proposition 8, defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman”. Says NOTHING about limiting or taking away or refusing rights to civil unions. I’ll defend EVERYONES rights…if this Prop 8 “TOOK AWAY” from civil unions I would have voted against it and may have joined a march or two as well. I’m sure it wouldn’t have stood up in court if it attacked civil unions. But it didn’t. Democracy in action, sometimes you like the results, sometimes you don’t.

  22. In a democracy, not every law and not every right is up for popular vote. One of the underpinings of democracy is the constitution’s ability to protect minority groups from having fundamental rights taken away by the majority.

  23. That is why it is a relief Proposition 8 wasn't about denying anyone fundamental rights. Changing the definition of the word "Marriage" to fit is not a right. Enjoying rights given to married couples and same-sex unions is. If Prop 8 went after civil unions and took anything away you I and the overwhelming majority of reasonable people in the U.S. wouldn't stand for it.

    You argue the constitution, you argue law, but you are not sticking to what Prop 8 was. This is designed to confuse people and make them think it is an attack on gays or taking something AWAY from GLBT people. No rights are taken away. This is gaining attention from people who vote, pass judgement, make decisions and so on based on headlines, bumper stickers and rhetoric. The more educated people are on Prop 8 [even gay folks] the more they will realize it isn't about taking anything away from the Gay community.

    Waste your time and fight over the word all you want, the real battle is civil union rights and a whole lot of other issues that really matter right now.

  24. I'm not a Kenn Starr fan…and perhaps I would have worded this just a little different…but his quote sums it up (speaking about proposition 8):

    The initiative "does not erode any of the bundle of rights that this state has very generously provided," he said, but merely "restores the traditional definition of marriage."

    It appears the California Supreme Court is going to agree.

    Justice Joyce Kennard said the voters arguably "took away the label of marriage, but … left intact most of what this court declared," including unprecedented constitutional protections for gays and lesbians.

  25. That is why it is a relief Proposition 8 wasn’t about denying anyone fundamental rights. Changing the definition of the word “Marriage” to fit is not a right. Enjoying rights given to married couples and same-sex unions is. If Prop 8 went after civil unions and took anything away you I and the overwhelming majority of reasonable people in the U.S. wouldn’t stand for it.

    You argue the constitution, you argue law, but you are not sticking to what Prop 8 was. This is designed to confuse people and make them think it is an attack on gays or taking something AWAY from GLBT people. No rights are taken away. This is gaining attention from people who vote, pass judgement, make decisions and so on based on headlines, bumper stickers and rhetoric. The more educated people are on Prop 8 [even gay folks] the more they will realize it isn’t about taking anything away from the Gay community.

    Waste your time and fight over the word all you want, the real battle is civil union rights and a whole lot of other issues that really matter right now.

  26. I’m not a Kenn Starr fan…and perhaps I would have worded this just a little different…but his quote sums it up (speaking about proposition 8):

    The initiative “does not erode any of the bundle of rights that this state has very generously provided,” he said, but merely “restores the traditional definition of marriage.”

    It appears the California Supreme Court is going to agree.

    Justice Joyce Kennard said the voters arguably “took away the label of marriage, but … left intact most of what this court declared,” including unprecedented constitutional protections for gays and lesbians.

  27. California Supreme Court Justices don't matter…it's what Sean Penn says that matters ;-)

  28. California Supreme Court Justices don’t matter…it’s what Sean Penn says that matters ;-)

  29. Pingback: Law and Disorder Radio » Blog Archive » Law and Disorder March 9, 2009

  30. As requested by Will…

    Sean Penn's acceptance speech http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dnM8v9aaR0 and the acceptance speech given by Dustin Lance Black http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mv35SN3ctU

    I also wanted to clarify that by redefining 'marriage' Prop 8 removed the rights of same-sex couples to marry and, in doing so, also removed the bundle of rights, benefits and the dignity that marriages give couples. Prop 8 therefore did take away rights but it did so by the back door.

  31. As requested by Will…

    Sean Penn's acceptance speech http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dnM8v9aaR0 and the acceptance speech given by Dustin Lance Black http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mv35SN3ctU

    I also wanted to clarify that by redefining 'marriage' Prop 8 removed the rights of same-sex couples to marry and, in doing so, also removed the bundle of rights, benefits and the dignity that marriages give couples. Prop 8 therefore did take away rights but it did so by the back door.

  32. As requested by Will…

    Sean Penn's acceptance speech http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dnM8v9aaR0 and the acceptance speech given by Dustin Lance Black http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mv35SN3ctU

    I also wanted to clarify that by redefining 'marriage' Prop 8 removed the rights of same-sex couples to marry and, in doing so, also removed the bundle of rights, benefits and the dignity that marriages give couples. Prop 8 therefore did take away rights but it did so by the back door.

  33. To those commenters who have focused on the importance of defining the word "marriage" as being a union only between a man and a woman, I guess I just need to ask: why? Is the gender of the participants really the most important or distinguishing aspect of the meaning behind the word? I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are many same-sex couples, legally married or not, who consider their relationships to be marriage in every way. Not just "like" marriage or "as good as" marriage, but actual together-forever-til-death-do-us-part Marriage. And why not? The commitment and love is exactly the same, and the people involved are just as human, with the exact same human rights as everyone else.

    I agree with what Dalia and Hmmm have said about Prop 8 being about taking away rights that are guaranteed by both the California state constitution and by international human rights principles.

  34. As requested by Will…

    Sean Penn’s acceptance speech http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dnM8v9aaR0 and the acceptance speech given by Dustin Lance Black http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mv35SN3ctU

    I also wanted to clarify that by redefining ‘marriage’ Prop 8 removed the rights of same-sex couples to marry and, in doing so, also removed the bundle of rights, benefits and the dignity that marriages give couples. Prop 8 therefore did take away rights but it did so by the back door.

  35. To those commenters who have focused on the importance of defining the word “marriage” as being a union only between a man and a woman, I guess I just need to ask: why? Is the gender of the participants really the most important or distinguishing aspect of the meaning behind the word? I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are many same-sex couples, legally married or not, who consider their relationships to be marriage in every way. Not just “like” marriage or “as good as” marriage, but actual together-forever-til-death-do-us-part Marriage. And why not? The commitment and love is exactly the same, and the people involved are just as human, with the exact same human rights as everyone else.

    I agree with what Dalia and Hmmm have said about Prop 8 being about taking away rights that are guaranteed by both the California state constitution and by international human rights principles.

  36. Under this system, such as segregation, individuals had "equal" opportunities. But, I would argue, as I would think (and hope) most would now, that segregation was never equal. Perhaps everyone was afforded a school, but was every one’s education given the same concern and respect?

    Civil marriage is a human right for all individuals. To say we will provide one individual with something equal but call it something different is nothing more than an argument to claim one individual is lesser than another. To say just because one individual was born differently, they must work under a different system than most is ludicrous.

    I will end on the note that I would be more than happy to agree to civil unions IF the law to be amended to state all civil marriages are civil unions–regardless if the union is between a man and a women or any other gender combination. I have a hard time believing most people arguing the word “marriage” would agree to such a proposition.

  37. Given the blog discussion, you might be interested in watching San Diego's Republican mayor, Jerry Sanders, explaining why he decided to move from supporting civil unions to supporting marriage. It's very moving. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y05XmZlF44

    Tony, I agree with you. I think many people wouldn't be okay having their state-recognized marriage called a "civil union", even if it came with the same rights because so many people conflate religious marriage with civil marriage. Marriage within religions is not impacted by state recognition.

  38. Given the blog discussion, you might be interested in watching San Diego's Republican mayor, Jerry Sanders, explaining why he decided to move from supporting civil unions to supporting marriage. It's very moving. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y05XmZlF44

    Tony, I agree with you. I think many people wouldn't be okay having their state-recognized marriage called a "civil union", even if it came with the same rights because so many people conflate religious marriage with civil marriage. Marriage within religions is not impacted by state recognition.

  39. Given the blog discussion, you might be interested in watching San Diego's Republican mayor, Jerry Sanders, explaining why he decided to move from supporting civil unions to supporting marriage. It's very moving. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y05XmZlF44

    Tony, I agree with you. I think many people wouldn't be okay having their state-recognized marriage called a "civil union", even if it came with the same rights because so many people conflate religious marriage with civil marriage. Marriage within religions is not impacted by state recognition.

  40. Most of the intellectual acrobatics that support Proposition 8 are simply prime examples of people continuing the long and sad tradition of being unable to truely understand those who are different and, thus, to creatively exclude them and to make them somehow lower. The fact that any minority group mobilizes to claim previously nonexistent rights is proof of another long tradition…that as the human experience evolves so must our laws.

  41. Under this system, such as segregation, individuals had “equal” opportunities. But, I would argue, as I would think (and hope) most would now, that segregation was never equal. Perhaps everyone was afforded a school, but was every one’s education given the same concern and respect?

    Civil marriage is a human right for all individuals. To say we will provide one individual with something equal but call it something different is nothing more than an argument to claim one individual is lesser than another. To say just because one individual was born differently, they must work under a different system than most is ludicrous.

    I will end on the note that I would be more than happy to agree to civil unions IF the law to be amended to state all civil marriages are civil unions–regardless if the union is between a man and a women or any other gender combination. I have a hard time believing most people arguing the word “marriage” would agree to such a proposition.

  42. I was joking about the Sean Penn thing! I do think he is a fine actor. I saw his acceptance speech.

    Contrary to Mike G's post; one can "truely understand" those that are different but stick with the traditional definition of marriage. Not in any attempt to make anyone lower.

    So back to the main issue how does keeping the definition of the word marriage to be between a man and a woman effect civil unions? How again is it unconstitutional and how does it take away any constitutional rights? Uhh it doesn't.

    Sincerely, Bless your civil unions. If you have found someone and you are both committed to each other, then bless your life together and there is no human beings job to pass judgement on you and yes a civil union should have the same legal rights as a marriage.

    However, it isn't a marriage I just have to respectfully disagree with you and I do not buy this as a constitutional rights issue.

    If a man and another man or a woman and another woman were created to be able to reproduce with one another we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

  43. "Marriage is a union between a man and a woman".

    From the President's address:

    Marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Marriage cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious, and natural roots without weakening this good influence on society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all.

    In our free society, people have the right to choose how they live their lives. And in a free society, decisions about such a fundamental social institution as marriage should be made by the people — not by the courts. The American people have spoken clearly on this issue, both through their representatives and at the ballot box. In 1996, Congress approved the Defense of Marriage Act by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, and President Clinton signed it into law. And since then, voters in 19 states have approved amendments to their state constitutions that protect the traditional definition of marriage. And today, 45 of the 50 states have either a state constitutional amendment or statute defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. These amendments and laws express a broad consensus in our country for protecting the institution of marriage.

  44. Given the blog discussion, you might be interested in watching San Diego’s Republican mayor, Jerry Sanders, explaining why he decided to move from supporting civil unions to supporting marriage. It’s very moving. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y05XmZlF44

    Tony, I agree with you. I think many people wouldn’t be okay having their state-recognized marriage called a “civil union”, even if it came with the same rights because so many people conflate religious marriage with civil marriage. Marriage within religions is not impacted by state recognition.

  45. Most of the intellectual acrobatics that support Proposition 8 are simply prime examples of people continuing the long and sad tradition of being unable to truely understand those who are different and, thus, to creatively exclude them and to make them somehow lower. The fact that any minority group mobilizes to claim previously nonexistent rights is proof of another long tradition…that as the human experience evolves so must our laws.

  46. I was joking about the Sean Penn thing! I do think he is a fine actor. I saw his acceptance speech.

    Contrary to Mike G’s post; one can “truely understand” those that are different but stick with the traditional definition of marriage. Not in any attempt to make anyone lower.

    So back to the main issue how does keeping the definition of the word marriage to be between a man and a woman effect civil unions? How again is it unconstitutional and how does it take away any constitutional rights? Uhh it doesn’t.

    Sincerely, Bless your civil unions. If you have found someone and you are both committed to each other, then bless your life together and there is no human beings job to pass judgement on you and yes a civil union should have the same legal rights as a marriage.

    However, it isn’t a marriage I just have to respectfully disagree with you and I do not buy this as a constitutional rights issue.

    If a man and another man or a woman and another woman were created to be able to reproduce with one another we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

  47. “Marriage is a union between a man and a woman”.

    From the President’s address:

    Marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Marriage cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious, and natural roots without weakening this good influence on society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all.

    In our free society, people have the right to choose how they live their lives. And in a free society, decisions about such a fundamental social institution as marriage should be made by the people — not by the courts. The American people have spoken clearly on this issue, both through their representatives and at the ballot box. In 1996, Congress approved the Defense of Marriage Act by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, and President Clinton signed it into law. And since then, voters in 19 states have approved amendments to their state constitutions that protect the traditional definition of marriage. And today, 45 of the 50 states have either a state constitutional amendment or statute defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. These amendments and laws express a broad consensus in our country for protecting the institution of marriage.

  48. A sentence in Will's last post on the Presidential address highlights a key point on which a lot of the disagreement hinges: "Marriage cannot be cut off from its . . . religious . . . roots". I think civil marriage can and should. Otherwise, can we really say that we separate Church from State? And isn't it a good thing to keep religion out of the way we choose to apply laws?

  49. A sentence in Will’s last post on the Presidential address highlights a key point on which a lot of the disagreement hinges: “Marriage cannot be cut off from its . . . religious . . . roots”. I think civil marriage can and should. Otherwise, can we really say that we separate Church from State? And isn’t it a good thing to keep religion out of the way we choose to apply laws?

  50. This issue isn't just about gay marriage, it is about the Christian Right pushing people around. Gays would do well to stay focused on getting equal rights within the language of civil unions. The rest of us can help by demanding that civil unions be, not just for gays, but for any legally recognized union between adults. Lets start seeing some straight legal unions for those who are not religious. If they want to make this about religion lets make it about religion. We all know marriage is a religious institution and that it is illegal according to our Constitution, " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…"

    Polls show the views toward religion are dramatically changing, I think, due to the advent of info sharing web sites, Creationism, Ben Stein, etc.. The population of self proclaimed nonbelievers in the U.S. has risen from 6% to 16% since 1996. A powerful and growing voting block. Gays need to see the end game here, stop fighting for gay marriage, keep fighting for equal civil unions, and eventually join the secular fight to remove all religious amendments from our state and federal constitutions. Thank you and may good fortune bless the world.

  51. This issue isn’t just about gay marriage, it is about the Christian Right pushing people around. Gays would do well to stay focused on getting equal rights within the language of civil unions. The rest of us can help by demanding that civil unions be, not just for gays, but for any legally recognized union between adults. Lets start seeing some straight legal unions for those who are not religious. If they want to make this about religion lets make it about religion. We all know marriage is a religious institution and that it is illegal according to our Constitution, ” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

    Polls show the views toward religion are dramatically changing, I think, due to the advent of info sharing web sites, Creationism, Ben Stein, etc.. The population of self proclaimed nonbelievers in the U.S. has risen from 6% to 16% since 1996. A powerful and growing voting block. Gays need to see the end game here, stop fighting for gay marriage, keep fighting for equal civil unions, and eventually join the secular fight to remove all religious amendments from our state and federal constitutions. Thank you and may good fortune bless the world.

  52. 52 1/2 percent of the liberal state of California are not members of "the Christian Right".

    Interesting points otherwise Alex.

    As far as Will goes, I don't know if it was intentional or not, but that President Address was from President Bush and not President Obama I believe.

    President Obama is taking the politically safe (weak) middle of the road on this issue and has come out and said it is a state issue…(For Example, Prop 8 in California is up to the people of California).

    Perhaps EVERYONE can be happy if Federal and State Laws recognized ALL civil unions (woman and a man; man and a man; or woman and a woman) to be treated the same legally. Let the Churches stay out of Government and protect the traditional definition of the word marriage.

    As a Christian…I don't want the word "Christmas" to mean all religous holidays. "Hanukah" and "Christmas" are different…As a married Christian…I don't want the word "Marriage" to mean all couples. "Marriage" is not the same as a same sex couple. That is how it boils down to me.

  53. I don't consider marriage a term connected to religion, but rather a description of a union. Brian, our difference seems to be rooted in the meaning that is attached to the word. If we took all of the words away, it seems that you and I have the same position on state-recognition of unions and all the rights that go with it. I'd be fine if the state wanted to call my "marriage" a "civil union" or even any other name, if they gave the same rights to everyone under that name. I don't have any religious attachment to the recognition of my civil marriage under state and federal law. Brian, am I correct in understanding that you consider marriage, as used by the state, a religious term? And if so, do any specific religions or religious traditions apply here?

  54. Dalia-

    The only point I tried to make (and I think there is finally one other poster in this amnesty blog that agrees with me)…is that the GBLT community should focus on equal rights for civil unions. The definition of the word is not a civil rights or constitutional issue.

    People aren't on "the attack" they are on the "defense" of traditional marriage. Whether that is through the Church, through the State….whether it is religious or not makes little difference to me.

    I enjoy reading this blog, but the only comment on your last two questions I have is that no I don't consider marriage (as used by the state) to be a religious term. I yield to your law degree and do not wish to engage in a debate concerning the nuances of separation of church and state…and I think that is how those last two questions are framed.

    Just as Alex stated…the GBLT should focus on the recognition and rights of civil unions…and as far as black and white federal and state law goes…I would have no heartburn if the law went ahead and referred to all legal couples as a civil union. Let the Church stay seperate and let those of us who wish to defend the traditional definition of marriage do just that.

  55. 52 1/2 percent of the liberal state of California are not members of “the Christian Right”.

    Interesting points otherwise Alex.

    As far as Will goes, I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but that President Address was from President Bush and not President Obama I believe.

    President Obama is taking the politically safe (weak) middle of the road on this issue and has come out and said it is a state issue…(For Example, Prop 8 in California is up to the people of California).

    Perhaps EVERYONE can be happy if Federal and State Laws recognized ALL civil unions (woman and a man; man and a man; or woman and a woman) to be treated the same legally. Let the Churches stay out of Government and protect the traditional definition of the word marriage.

    As a Christian…I don’t want the word “Christmas” to mean all religous holidays. “Hanukah” and “Christmas” are different…As a married Christian…I don’t want the word “Marriage” to mean all couples. “Marriage” is not the same as a same sex couple. That is how it boils down to me.

  56. I don’t consider marriage a term connected to religion, but rather a description of a union. Brian, our difference seems to be rooted in the meaning that is attached to the word. If we took all of the words away, it seems that you and I have the same position on state-recognition of unions and all the rights that go with it. I’d be fine if the state wanted to call my “marriage” a “civil union” or even any other name, if they gave the same rights to everyone under that name. I don’t have any religious attachment to the recognition of my civil marriage under state and federal law. Brian, am I correct in understanding that you consider marriage, as used by the state, a religious term? And if so, do any specific religions or religious traditions apply here?

  57. Dalia-

    The only point I tried to make (and I think there is finally one other poster in this amnesty blog that agrees with me)…is that the GBLT community should focus on equal rights for civil unions. The definition of the word is not a civil rights or constitutional issue.

    People aren’t on “the attack” they are on the “defense” of traditional marriage. Whether that is through the Church, through the State….whether it is religious or not makes little difference to me.

    I enjoy reading this blog, but the only comment on your last two questions I have is that no I don’t consider marriage (as used by the state) to be a religious term. I yield to your law degree and do not wish to engage in a debate concerning the nuances of separation of church and state…and I think that is how those last two questions are framed.

    Just as Alex stated…the GBLT should focus on the recognition and rights of civil unions…and as far as black and white federal and state law goes…I would have no heartburn if the law went ahead and referred to all legal couples as a civil union. Let the Church stay seperate and let those of us who wish to defend the traditional definition of marriage do just that.

  58. Brian, I understand your perspective, it is just different than mine. You may have always been in favor of civil unions that would offer the same rights as marriage, since your opinion hinges on the traditional definition of marriage as opposed to recognition of rights. Civil unions come up a lot more, now that same-sex marriage is at the center of debate. DL Hughley, in a CNN interview with Dan Savage asked about civil unions, as in, why not go with civil unions instead of marriage. Dan made the point that civil unions weren’t on the table until the LGBT community pushed for marriage. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEHNdXMemqg

  59. “Prop 8 is defining the word marriage.” is a silly argument. Prop 8, in my opinion, is about making sure only men and woment are recognized as being “married” and that same sex couples are not. Oh sure everybody is for civil rights, etc. but the recognition of life-long serious commitment known as “marriage” belongs only to one man and one woman, gay and lesbians can have “civil unions”, so there! Same sex couples whish to amend, enlarge, enrich, and modernize the definition of “marriage” and the dictionary will be edited.

  60. Hallie-

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion…though I won't resort to calling you or your argument "silly".

    I love gay people and support civil rights, equal employment opportunities, protection of the law, and the right to live with, be with and live your life anyway you choose.

    It might be difficult for you to understand…but there are billions of us world wide and thousands of years of tradition that is adament on this issue.

    Once again I make comparisons of the word Christmas and Hannukah for example. They are not the same, and they should not be merged together.

    And yes I am for civil rights…and yes "marriage" belongs only to one man and one woman. Anyone can live and be with anyone they want to and make a life-long legally reckognized union…

    I see the writing on the wall and I'm certain one day we will lose this battle. It will be a sad day for some and a joyous day for others.

    I know pronounce you _____ and ______, you may now kiss the ______. Fill in the blanks with whatever.

    God Bless,

  61. Hallie-

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion…though I won’t resort to calling you or your argument “silly”.

    I love gay people and support civil rights, equal employment opportunities, protection of the law, and the right to live with, be with and live your life anyway you choose.

    It might be difficult for you to understand…but there are billions of us world wide and thousands of years of tradition that is adament on this issue.

    Once again I make comparisons of the word Christmas and Hannukah for example. They are not the same, and they should not be merged together.

    And yes I am for civil rights…and yes “marriage” belongs only to one man and one woman. Anyone can live and be with anyone they want to and make a life-long legally reckognized union…

    I see the writing on the wall and I’m certain one day we will lose this battle. It will be a sad day for some and a joyous day for others.

    I know pronounce you _____ and ______, you may now kiss the ______. Fill in the blanks with whatever.

    God Bless,

  62. Get real! Any self respecting christian would make being openly gay illegal if they could. Christianity, the Islam of yesteryear. It's not about a word, it is about THE WORD according to your medieval book of "morality". But I guess we should trust you because your a Christian. Mt favorite saying. Ha! Oh, boohoo a sad day. Cry me a river.

  63. Get real! Any self respecting christian would make being openly gay illegal if they could. Christianity, the Islam of yesteryear. It’s not about a word, it is about THE WORD according to your medieval book of “morality”. But I guess we should trust you because your a Christian. Mt favorite saying. Ha! Oh, boohoo a sad day. Cry me a river.

  64. Oh no, the dictionary will be edited. What will we do in a world where a dictionary can be edited? HOW WILL WE LIVE? Oh allah, I mean God, what will happen to our family if the dictionary is edited?? Our traditions will be ruined! No god please, not that, anything but the dictionary, please, its all about the definition, without the definition our lives are MEANINGLESS! Ok losers I am going to go and marry some peanut butter to some jelly. And remember kids, just say no to Jesus!!!

  65. Alex,

    Happy April Fools Day.

    Enjoy The Company Of Your Significant Other, Man, Woman, Or Peanut Butter and Jelly.

    And no—just because I happen to be Christian (oh by the way…there are plenty of gay Christians SURPRISE) do I think being openly gay should be against the law.

    Stay on subject, and don’t pretend to know me.

    Enjoy the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich if that is what you are into.

  66. Brian, you've summed up my thoughts to the tee. I could not agree more. The GLBT community doesn't even seem to know what they are fighting for anymore, and neither do some outsiders.

    They fought for marriage only so that they would afforded the same legal rights granted to married couples, but if this can be achieved under a civil union, what is all the contentious debate about? Is the concept of "equal rights" no longer the objective? And if it isn't, they need to go sit down. I understand that right now, they would not be granted the same rights under a “civil union”, but THIS is where the fight should be focused, not on being classified under the term "marriage" and thereby, passively inheriting all those rights. If they wanted to call it "soue*7dhd##@", that would be fine, as long as "soue*7dhd##@", meant they could have the same rights! Seriously, if I were a sensible lesbian, I would recognize this.

    I'm not even a Christian, or a religious fanatic, but I do understand the religious foundation of what a traditional "marriage" is all about, and I wouldn't agree to the obliteration of that sanctity just so that a minority group could feel "included." I fully understand why people want to protect it…anyone should, whether they agree or not. You just cannot shut your eyes, cock your ears and refuse to accept why people have objected to this…you won’t get anywhere by doing that. The sooner the GBLT community realizes this, the better off they will be. Focus on what is most important, your RIGHTS, and NOT under what term your union is being established and recognized by law. They would be amazed by how much more support they would have!

  67. Brian, you’ve summed up my thoughts to the tee. I could not agree more. The GLBT community doesn’t even seem to know what they are fighting for anymore, and neither do some outsiders.

    They fought for marriage only so that they would afforded the same legal rights granted to married couples, but if this can be achieved under a civil union, what is all the contentious debate about? Is the concept of “equal rights” no longer the objective? And if it isn’t, they need to go sit down. I understand that right now, they would not be granted the same rights under a “civil union”, but THIS is where the fight should be focused, not on being classified under the term “marriage” and thereby, passively inheriting all those rights. If they wanted to call it “soue*7dhd##@”, that would be fine, as long as “soue*7dhd##@”, meant they could have the same rights! Seriously, if I were a sensible lesbian, I would recognize this.

    I’m not even a Christian, or a religious fanatic, but I do understand the religious foundation of what a traditional “marriage” is all about, and I wouldn’t agree to the obliteration of that sanctity just so that a minority group could feel “included.” I fully understand why people want to protect it…anyone should, whether they agree or not. You just cannot shut your eyes, cock your ears and refuse to accept why people have objected to this…you won’t get anywhere by doing that. The sooner the GBLT community realizes this, the better off they will be. Focus on what is most important, your RIGHTS, and NOT under what term your union is being established and recognized by law. They would be amazed by how much more support they would have!

  68. Jenny-

    Hello.

    Let me say that what pediatricians have to say about children raised by a straight or gay couple has ZERO to do with Prop 8 and the definition of the word marriage.

    The same pediatricians can do a study on the impact of children being raised by a MARRIED couple vs. a gay couple joined by a civil union. I'm sure the results would be the same.

    Many are attempting to cloud the issue, but don't focus on what Prop 8 truelly was. At least the majority of California voters and the California Supreme Court paid attention and got it right.

    "Why would anyone want to take that away?" – Prop 8 and the California Supreme Court Ruling takes nothing away.

  69. Jenny-

    Hello.

    Let me say that what pediatricians have to say about children raised by a straight or gay couple has ZERO to do with Prop 8 and the definition of the word marriage.

    The same pediatricians can do a study on the impact of children being raised by a MARRIED couple vs. a gay couple joined by a civil union. I’m sure the results would be the same.

    Many are attempting to cloud the issue, but don’t focus on what Prop 8 truelly was. At least the majority of California voters and the California Supreme Court paid attention and got it right.

    “Why would anyone want to take that away?” – Prop 8 and the California Supreme Court Ruling takes nothing away.

  70. Hi Brian,

    I dont' think either that there's a huge difference between growing up with a married straight couple or a "cilvil unioned" gay couple. At least not as long as those two mean EXACTLY the same when it comes to rights (which has not been the case). I don't think religious definition should overcloud those civil rights.

  71. Hi Brian,

    I dont’ think either that there’s a huge difference between growing up with a married straight couple or a “cilvil unioned” gay couple. At least not as long as those two mean EXACTLY the same when it comes to rights (which has not been the case). I don’t think religious definition should overcloud those civil rights.

  72. Jenny-

    We agree (I think).

    The real fight for the GLBT community rests with the RIGHTS. If civilized unions are given the same legal status, rights, priviledges, protections etc… given to couples who are legally married would the GLBT be happy?

    Given the arguments and the purposeful mischaracterization of Prop 8 I doubt that is the case.

  73. Jenny-

    We agree (I think).

    The real fight for the GLBT community rests with the RIGHTS. If civilized unions are given the same legal status, rights, priviledges, protections etc… given to couples who are legally married would the GLBT be happy?

    Given the arguments and the purposeful mischaracterization of Prop 8 I doubt that is the case.

  74. The problem with not allowing LGBT people the right to marry is that it makes homosexual people ipso facto lesser to hetereosexuals.

    I personally don't want to marry, but the possibility is necessary in order to have legal equality.

  75. The problem with not allowing LGBT people the right to marry is that it makes homosexual people ipso facto lesser to hetereosexuals.

    I personally don’t want to marry, but the possibility is necessary in order to have legal equality.

  76. Michael-

    Homosexuals are not IPSO FACTO lesser to heterosexuals.

    Your argument rests entirerly on the premise that a civil union between a gay couple is not given the legal equality of a marriage between a man and a woman.

    Back to my point, the fight and argument should be focused on those states or federal laws (if any) that fail to recognize a civil union and/or fail to provide the same legal rights and protections.

  77. Michael-

    Homosexuals are not IPSO FACTO lesser to heterosexuals.

    Your argument rests entirerly on the premise that a civil union between a gay couple is not given the legal equality of a marriage between a man and a woman.

    Back to my point, the fight and argument should be focused on those states or federal laws (if any) that fail to recognize a civil union and/or fail to provide the same legal rights and protections.

  78. First of all, I will be blunt in saying that from my understanding of humanity and its history, homosexuality is not good for society. If it were, we would have been seeing positive results from it a long, long… LONG time ago. While it's certainly true that consenting sexual activity between two consenting adults MIGHT not affect anyone else in a negative manner, the truth is… it does.

    Non-Heterosexual committed marriages are based upon social theories fueled by the desire to make "wrong" "right" so that the prior "wrong" can be openly enjoyed. Committed, Heterosexual marriages are based upon nature (God's divine design, if you believe so), and the practical benefits toward societies and individuals from it are unparalleled. I have yet to hear a compelling argument (that's not based in ultimate selfishness) that proves otherwise.

    Now… do we really need to go so far as to publicly ruin and harass people for their unconventional sexual attractions? Absolutely not! Even for Christians, the New Testament is clear about the issue of grace over one's sins, AND IT LISTS MANY… much more than just homosexuality. Everyone has their faults, and to say otherwise would be plain-old-denial. But to flip a fundamental truth unto it's head so that we can pursue the convenience of making immoral behavior "legal" is a path toward the implosion of a society.

    Just take a look at Europe. The native European population is diminishing, and it really seems to me that it's due to ego-centric living that embraces marriages without the inconvenience of children, no committed marriages at all, and homosexual relationships (completely unable to produce another human being). So, if we were to take an environmental approach, we would see that particular sub-species of humans in Europe are moving slowly toward extinction. And the problem is their own behavior! The numbers show that soon, Europe will be dominated by Middle-Eastern genes, and the "Constantinople Effect" will have been bred into Europe. Don't believe me? Ahem, Great Britain now allows for individuals to use Sharia Law in their courts. I'm not against Middle-Easterners at all.. but I am pointing out that they DO NOT embrace homosexuality as a culture, and their numbers are thriving over the self-indulgent Europeans' populations. And I would have to say that most "Western" cultures would have a very difficult time living under Islamic social laws. But then it would be their own fault for pursuing nation-wide acceptance of socially self-defeating personal behaviors such as homosexuality.

    Every nation has their chance. And every dominant Empire in our history has fallen. Self-indulgence was often a factor. Let's stop fooling ourselves and realize why, for good reason, homosexuality has been made illegal at times. It's simply a contributor to national decline.

  79. But about the argument of whether homosexual relationships have the right to exist…

    Sure, laws can be changed to fit the motives desires of whoever is in power. Sometimes it's the people, and sometimes it's a dictator, and sometimes it's a Congress that is ignoring the will of the people. Whatever. But if you want to vote for and live by a way of life that eventually contributes to the fall of our nation, would you be retrospectively considered a traitor? Something to think about.

  80. First of all, I will be blunt in saying that from my understanding of humanity and its history, homosexuality is not good for society. If it were, we would have been seeing positive results from it a long, long… LONG time ago. While it’s certainly true that consenting sexual activity between two consenting adults MIGHT not affect anyone else in a negative manner, the truth is… it does.

    Non-Heterosexual committed marriages are based upon social theories fueled by the desire to make “wrong” “right” so that the prior “wrong” can be openly enjoyed. Committed, Heterosexual marriages are based upon nature (God’s divine design, if you believe so), and the practical benefits toward societies and individuals from it are unparalleled. I have yet to hear a compelling argument (that’s not based in ultimate selfishness) that proves otherwise.

    Now… do we really need to go so far as to publicly ruin and harass people for their unconventional sexual attractions? Absolutely not! Even for Christians, the New Testament is clear about the issue of grace over one’s sins, AND IT LISTS MANY… much more than just homosexuality. Everyone has their faults, and to say otherwise would be plain-old-denial. But to flip a fundamental truth unto it’s head so that we can pursue the convenience of making immoral behavior “legal” is a path toward the implosion of a society.

    Just take a look at Europe. The native European population is diminishing, and it really seems to me that it’s due to ego-centric living that embraces marriages without the inconvenience of children, no committed marriages at all, and homosexual relationships (completely unable to produce another human being). So, if we were to take an environmental approach, we would see that particular sub-species of humans in Europe are moving slowly toward extinction. And the problem is their own behavior! The numbers show that soon, Europe will be dominated by Middle-Eastern genes, and the “Constantinople Effect” will have been bred into Europe. Don’t believe me? Ahem, Great Britain now allows for individuals to use Sharia Law in their courts. I’m not against Middle-Easterners at all.. but I am pointing out that they DO NOT embrace homosexuality as a culture, and their numbers are thriving over the self-indulgent Europeans’ populations. And I would have to say that most “Western” cultures would have a very difficult time living under Islamic social laws. But then it would be their own fault for pursuing nation-wide acceptance of socially self-defeating personal behaviors such as homosexuality.

    Every nation has their chance. And every dominant Empire in our history has fallen. Self-indulgence was often a factor. Let’s stop fooling ourselves and realize why, for good reason, homosexuality has been made illegal at times. It’s simply a contributor to national decline.

  81. But about the argument of whether homosexual relationships have the right to exist…

    Sure, laws can be changed to fit the motives desires of whoever is in power. Sometimes it’s the people, and sometimes it’s a dictator, and sometimes it’s a Congress that is ignoring the will of the people. Whatever. But if you want to vote for and live by a way of life that eventually contributes to the fall of our nation, would you be retrospectively considered a traitor? Something to think about.