Friday, October 24, 2008

It's not about equality...'s about acceptance.

With the passing of Prop. 8 homosexuals couples in California will not be denied any rights that they currently have- homosexual couples will have the same rights as heterosexual couples.

So why do homosexual couples care whether or not they are in a civil union or in a 'marriage' if their rights do not change either way?

Because it's not about equality- it's about moral approval.

Don't believe me- this come straight from the horse's mouth:

Why Moral Approval Matters- 365GAY.COM


Steve said...

Ok, let's say the status quo doesn't change if this is passed, ie nobody's rights are ever infringed; then why bother passing it? What do non-gays gain by having this amendment pass?!?! How could I, as a hetero married dude ever benefit from this passing?!?!

Salt H2O said...

From what I know about Steve the heterosexual dude, and what Steve the heterosexual dude believes- any benefit I (or anyone else)lists you wouldn't deem as a personal benefit.

Emily said...

Dear Soapbox:

I just can't accept the heterosexual lifestyle of strip clubs and Las Vegas shows and magazines that degrade women and parents (either male or female) who won't pay their child support These things seem immoral to me. I am a hard-working, taxpaying, Christian-thinking lesbian who wants to make the world a better and safer place for my family. There are so many children unloved and unwanted in the world, this seems like the ultimate in immorality, and who is responsible for that? "We" (lesbians and gays) don't generally have kids we don't want, though accidents can happen to anybody.

Does this line of reasoning sound outrageous or offensive to you? That somebody would pick out the most shocking or 'undesirable' qualities of a group you happen to be part of in some way, and just lump you all together without knowing anything about you or your life or your family?

The reason gays and lesbians want acceptance and equality is that the fact of being gay or lesbian has nothing to do with morality any more than being hetero is a moral quality. Whatever scale of morality one uses, there are still going to be moral gay people, immoral gay people, moral straight people, and immoral straight people. Wouldn't it be great if we could all just be people, could all be treated the same by our government, and could all make the best possible choices for ourselves and our families?

And surely this point has already been made, whether you believe it or not--Prop 8 eliminates the right that same-sex couples in California currently have to be married. Why do we care? Why do you care? Would civil union be good enough for you and your husband? Good enough for your family? No, you say? (Forgive me for speaking out of turn there.) But you feel like it's alright for you to tell a whole group of people you don't know that they aren't worthy of the same treatment you are? I find that quite remarkable. I'm sorry, I'm sure you have excellent judgment in many matters, but I don't think you are in a position to decide whether or not I can be married to the person I love.

Taylor said...

biggest problem with emily's argument: Marriage is not a right. People are not entitled to marriage.

Anonymous said...

So, if enough people decided that magazines that degrade women were a form of art and therefore not immoral, and those people voted that the magazines be called artwork, instead of pornography then these magazines could be made available to people of all ages. They could even be used in the schools as art. Isn't it all a matter of rights ? Don't we all deserve the right to view art ? Doesn't the artist deserve the right to have his work presented to everyone ? Or should it perhaps have a different name, because it does not represent what is traditionally known as art ? Who decides if art should have a moral label attached to it ? Just because one person believes something is moral does not make it so. If a person believes something is immoral don't they have the right to protect their children from being desensitized to it ?

Just a thought.

Fed up with it all said...

So if marriage is a PRIVILEGE, and not a right, who are you to determine who is eligible for that privilege?? Sounds like stone throwing to me.

Emily said...

I don't know what happened to the other comment I tried to post last night in response to Taylor, but in response to Anonymous, we (again) have the courts to thank for a definition of obscenity that puts some boundaries on freedom of speech. The government has found / continues to find compelling interests in restricting obscenity, but has found no compelling interest in prohibiting a whole group of people from marrying.

It seems like marriage is about as moral an act as anybody can ever perform. It is a solemn commitment. Preventing people from marrying diminishes / decreases their capacity to make 'moral' choices.

Jonesy said...

It seems to me that 61% of voters is pretty compelling.

Steve said...

Salty - It is easy to think of this stuff in abstract terms, but as Emily clearly points out, it IS a personal issue that does affect normal everyday people.

You are right, I can't think of any reason I would support Prop 8; however, I was/am giving you or anyone that seems so determined and indignant that this MUST pass give me ONE good reason why it should.

I agree that parents should/must take responsibility to protect their children from what they disagree with; however, the only 100% way to do this is seal your kid in the basement away from a pc and tv and magazines and probably his/her friends at school. Now what kind of person would this child grow up to be? My guess is Taylor, but I digress.

The Constitution provides rights to each and every person and your/my rights are ONLY as important until they infringe on the rights of others. This is one of, if not the key, philosophical element of our representative democracy and behind the 1st Amendment. Why do you think they made it the "1st" amendment?

Salty, as always I respect you greatly and if I were about to be elected to office, I'd totally value your opinion on most issues for advice to help me see the other side; but here I have yet to see one iota of evidence why Prop 8 is anything but a homophobic and a Jim Crow era horrible idea.

Taylor said...

I didnt decide who should marry who. Anatomy did.

seaside said...

"The Constitution provides rights to each and every person and your/my rights are ONLY as important until they infringe on the rights of others."

This leaves a question as to who's right's are more important.

A doctor here in San Diego refused to artificially inseminate a woman because she had a lesbian relationship and his religious beliefs were against that type of thing. He directed the couple to another doctor who helped them out and they have a baby now...but, that didn't keep them from suing the first doctor. And the court sided with the couple. The doctor lost his right to live according to his religious beliefs so that someone else might have their wants. ("...until they infringe on the rights of others")

Churches are extremely concerned that they will be sued for not performing marriages for anyone who wants one. Which is more important? Freedom of religion or a desire to have the title of "marriage" attached to an already legal union of a couple?

So which comes first? The freedom of religion or the right to get what one wants at the expense of anyone?

And my answer is freedom of religion and religious beliefs.

Jeri and Amy said...

As a person who has several gay friends and has had numerous gay co-workers, I was initially against prop 8. When my church began to speak in favor of it, I felt very conflicted. I love my gay friends and neighbors and I would never want to deny them anything... My religious beliefs however, forced me to re-examine the issue.

I began dialoguing with people who were promoting Prop 8. I heard a lot of arguments that I could dismiss, but the one thing that struck a cord for me was the idea that church leaders (rabbis, pastors, priests, bishops)could be sued for denying to perform a gay marriage. I do not believe in infringing upon anyone's beliefs... and for me that includes religious ones. I believe that religious institutions should have the liberty to practice what they preach.

Unfortunately, we live in a very litigious society. People have sued (and won!) for absolutely ridiculous reasons (spilling hot coffee or injuring themselves whilst committing a crime, for example.) I believe that it is a virtual certainty that someone out there would sue a church/pastor who declined to perform gay marriages just to prove a point. It is only a matter of time. I believe that as homosexuality becomes increasingly acceptable to society at large, the likelihood of that lawsuit winning increases exponentially.

This is very difficult for me to post because I would never want any one of my friends to read this and think that I judge them or their lifestyle. I don't. I absolutely believe that gay couples should be treated equal under the law and be extended every benefit of marriage enjoyed by heterosexual couples. Luckily, California law already ensures this equality. The only thing in question here (for gay couples)is the title, while for religious institutions, the implications are so much greater.

Emily said...

Jeri and Amy, I appreciate the thought and dialog you've put into these issues, but it looks like an important legal issue is still misunderstood here.

California law does not prohibit a church from refusing to perform a marriage. If the church opens its space to the public, but then denies the space to someone based on that person's protected status, the person has a claim.

Assuming a same-sex couple would want to get married in a building that was owned by an organization hostile to same-sex marriages, the couple would have to prove that the building was a public place (available for use / rent to anybody), and that they were being excluded from the opportunity to use or rent the space because of their sexual orientation. Courts have not yet ruled on this, so the law is unclear at this point.

California's constitution and laws already make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal, so the changes proposed by Prop 8 would make no difference here. So even if Proposition 8 does pass, a same-sex couple wanting to hold a commitment ceremony to acknowledge their registration as domestic partners, for example, could bring a lawsuit against a church that denied access to them yet allowed access to other couples based on laws already on California's books.

However, churches that don't rent out their halls or sanctuaries (or temples) to the public will not be creating public spaces and would not have to comply with existing public accommodations laws.

Obviously, no church can be forced to perform a marriage. Mormons can't be forced to perform temple marriages for non-worthy members. If churches could be forced to perform civil marriages, that would be an intrusion of the government onto a religious group and contrary to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The California Supreme Court has held, for many years (back to anti-miscegenation laws), that a person has a fundamental right to marriage. "First, we must determine the nature and scope of the "right to marry" — a right that past cases establish as one of the fundamental constitutional rights embodied in the California Constitution." In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757, 781 (2008).

California considers sexual orientation a "protected class" along with other protected classes such as religion, race, ethnicity, ancestry, and family status (i.e. having children). Nudists are not a protected class, despite the fact that everyone is born naked :). Therefore the analogy previously made to nudists is a false one.

And just for the record...that case where the woman sued over the hot coffee spilled in her lap is often cited as an example of frivolous litigation, but in fact the coffee was so hot that the plaintiff suffered pretty serious burns from it (in places you just don't want to have burns, serious or not) and the defendant had a deep pocket, so altogether a great recipe for a settlement.

seaside said...

"Courts have not yet ruled on this, so the law is unclear at this point."

This is where the law has a problem. The courts stepping out of bounds making decisions that have not been passed as law by the congress. Judges don't seem to have to answer to anyone these days. Therefore there is a need to clarify through legal ways and therefore a need for prop 8. Apparently passing something in 2003 doesn't matter to judges.

To clarify further, this is how churches see marriage: "Christians have regarded marriage as ordained by God for the lifelong union of a man and a woman."

"Marriage" is more of a religious observance than a joining of two people.

It isn't a difficult stretch for the courts to "rule" that churches must follow what they have deemed as a right. The law needs to be clarified to safe guard the churches.

There is nothing more gained by individuals than they already have by not passing the law. What is gained for churches is their right to maintain the rights that they would soon be denied.

Knock yourself out with your civil isn't my business. Marriage, which is a religious ritual by all faiths, is my business and I do not like the courts messing with it.

Jeri and Amy said...

I have to echo Seaside's response. The fear that many religious-minded individuals share is that courts have already demonstrated the ability to ignore the common consent of the people and create new laws from the bench. If this is already the case, who is to say it cannot be taken further?

I reiterate that, in my opinion, it is only a matter of time before lawsuits will be directed toward religious institutions. The case could be made (and, rightly so) that the couple was denied the rite of marriage solely based upon gender preference (and the Church and/or minister would therefore be in violation of anti-
discrimination laws.) I believe that a so-called "activist judge" could side for the plaintiff and create a dangerous precedent.

And to answer to your comment that "California law does not prohibit a church from refusing to perform a marriage" I would argue, How many times has this been challenged? Probably, to date, zero. What would be the result if challenged in the future based upon discrimination of a "protected class"? I'm afraid to find out.

I really think that Prop 8 comes down to these unknowns. People don't care how you live or how you love. Rather, they are scared about the potential consequences
to things they hold dear. For some, this means the imaginable impact on their children, for others, the conceivable threat to their churches.

As for the case with the coffee, the depth of the defendant's pockets should never be taken into consideration when determining his liability in a case. If it were otherwise, I would be sure to "slip" and incur serious injury while scaling the walls to rob Bill Gates! (Please note:
This is meant to be funny- not cantankerous)

Anonymous said...

"Knock yourself out with your civil isn't my business. Marriage, which is a religious ritual by all faiths, is my business and I do not like the courts messing with it."

Then let every couple receive a Civil Union License or Certificate, and you are free to call your Christian ceremony a "marriage", the Jewish couple down the street can call their get-together a "nissu'in", and the Trekkies can have their Klingon "ceremony". Everybody is happy!

Really, if your hang-up is the term "marriage" then all the State has to do is replace your apparently religious term with a more appropriate and universal term.

seaside said...

"Knock yourself out with your civil isn't my business. Marriage, which is a religious ritual by all faiths, is my business and I do not like the courts messing with it."

"Really, if your hang-up is the term "marriage" then all the State has to do is replace your apparently religious term with a more appropriate and universal term."

Now you understand - very good. Marriage is a sacred religious ordinance that ought not to be addressed by the courts - the courts ought to stay out of this religious belief and stick with government matters. Call it a 'hang up' or an issue or standing up for what one believes. I prefer the last term. How about the gay community figure out their own term since civil union just doesn't cut it for them.

hmr said...

Marriage is a religious term, but it's also the term that all states use to recognize the civil license they offer two people. Gays are not asking the government to interfere with a religious definition. In fact, because of the separation between church and state, the churches are free to have their own ceremonies and call them marriages without state interference. Proposition 8 does not demand that churches would recognize all marriages, its failure would mean the STATE recognizes all marriage. The First Amendment is the platform that saves one from sliding down the slippery slope of 'it's only a matter of time' before someone sues a church.

Jeri and Amy said...

The First Amendment protects the autonomy of churches only inasmuch as they do not collide with the laws of the state. Would the First Amendment protect an Aryan-minded church from permitting black congregants? I should hope not! Likewise, if gay marriage is legal, churches could be charged with discrimination.
I'm glad to see that so many people believe very strongly in the First Amendment, but I think it's naive to say this grants churches total autonomy.

Anonymous said...

fed up with it,

The government has already set the precedent in deciding who can and cannot get married. There's a reason why you can't marry your cousin, or why you can't marry 2 of your cousins, or 3 of your neighbors down the street. Why? for the protection of children and families and society as a whole. Always has been that way. But now you're probably going to tell me that you think polygamy and incest are OK too?

I am not trying to compare gays with polygamists and incestuous people (I know and love many gay people), however the point I am trying to make is that marriage is what it is. It's an institution designed for the upbringing and protection of children. It is what it is. Why do gay people think they can just walk in and change that? Guaranteed, the polygamists and all those other people will be demanding the same thing.

As has already been stated, marriage is not a RIGHT. Otherwise, we should all be allowed to marry whomever and however many people we want.

hmr said...

Anonymous and Jeri & Amy: It seems there are some points of law that you're either overlooking, or not quite understanding. First, as stated in Emily's comment above, the California Supreme Court has found (for many years) that there is a fundamental right to marriage. Second, when state law and federal law speak to the same point, federal law trumps -- meaning that states cannot make laws that violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
I checked with a constitutional law scholar on the points that you raise (his emphasis is in Constitutional Law and Religion) -- his response follows:
I understand that recognizing the legal right of same-sex couples to marry may create a conflict with the practices of some religious individuals and institutions. That can happen. In a religiously diverse society, it is common for public policies to create conflicts with religious beliefs and practices.
But the appropriate and accepted way to deal with these conflicts is to create accommodations that protect religious liberty in those limited situations where a problem arises -- not to reject the public policy itself in its entirely.

Remember that the Boy Scouts case in 2000 found that the Boy Scouts could not be forced to accept gays among their ranks. Surely the courts would offer churches at least as much discretion.

Salt H2O said...

How is this anything like Jim Crow when everyone has the exact same rights? Do you know of a single person in this country granted the explicit right to 'marry the person they love?' if so- I call dibs on Brad Pitt (Brent loves Brad too, so he's ok with this). And I think I have some distant relatives in the south that would like to marry each other.

I'm offended that you'd actually call prop 8 homophobic- I gave you more credit than that. There is nothing homophobic about myself or prop.8- if you look at the reasons I support it not one of them is because I'm afraid of homosexuals-
this is the basest argument against prop.8- slap a label on it so you don't have to come close to opening your mind to the other side's viewpoint.

HMR- That was in 2000- the same year prop.22 passed. We are now in 2008 and prop 22 has been revoked. How long do you think it's going to be until the boyscouts in California are challenged again?

We have learned not only that law is not written in stone- but that judges have the power to overturn the will of the people.

The majority of my responses to these comments are in the next post- I'm glad I stepped out of the conversation for a while.

Mikie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.