Thoughts on California proposition 8 2008
This is about the law. An adult individual in California currently has a legal right to marry another adult individual to whom he or she is not closely related.
In the past, this right was limited by race: California Civil Code Section 60, provided that “All marriages of white persons with Negroes, Mongolians, members of the Malay race, or mulattoes are illegal and void,” and also Section 69, which stated that "... no license may be issued authorizing the marriage of a white person with a Negro, mulatto, Mongolian or member of the Malay race". This was overturned by the California Supreme Court in October 1948 in Perez v. Sharp on the grounds that it violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
"Laws prohibiting the intermarriage of whites and Negroes are on the books of 30 states, have survived every legal test. Last week one of those states changed its mind. California's ban on mixed marriages was declared unconstitutional by a 4-to-3 decision of the state's Supreme Court. Marriage, said the majority opinion, is a fundamental right of free men; and the right to marry includes the right to marry the person of one's choice. The decision also declared the law contrary 'to the fundamental principles of Christianity'."
No doubt there were many who would have preferred that the decision had not gone that way; it would be another 19 years before Loving v. Virginia in the U.S. Supreme Court forced laws against inter-racial marriage off the books.
That ruling stated: "Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law."
So, we have a strong precedent for protection of the individual's right to marry the person of their choice.
I firmly believe that women should have the same legal rights as men, and vice versa. In other words, I believe gender should be as strong as race with regard to equal rights under the law.
The law should be blind to gender as it is to color.
Marriage by the state bestows a legal status of a recognized relationship, just as health laws for farms bestow a legal status for a recognized food producer. Religious persons may ban the consumption of a particular food, but their beliefs do not deny others the right to consume that food. Similarly members of a particular religion may ban participation in the religion to those who marry a member of the same sex (or of a different race), but their beliefs should not deny others the right to marry.
With regard to the "what about allowing marrying children? or animals?" scenarios brought up by supporters of a ban on same-sex marriage, these add a new class of person able to marry: a non-adult or a non-human, and are therefore not parallel to the matter at hand in Proposition 8. The "slippery slope" argument ignores this basic matter of legal precedent and Constitutional backing. We are talking about a legal relationship which is defined as being between two individuals who are not closely related. The question here is whether additional qualifications can be added on that; if unrelated individuals A, B, C, and D can be married off as A&B and C&D or as A&D and C&B, then what legal justification can there be for preventing the marriages of A&C or B&D?
I remain baffled by the argument that encouraging serious public commitments to each other somehow "weakens marriage". I was at San Francisco City Hall in February 2004 and walked down the entire line talking with the couples; these were not fun-seekers, but rather couples seeking to publicly state their devotion to each other. In an age of celebrity weddings and "find a bride" reality shows, this restored my faith and that of many of my friends in the institution of marriage.
These are some of the reasons I will be voting NO on 8.