Daniel Eran Dilger
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Apple gives $100,000 to fight California gay marriage ban

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Prince McLean, AppleInsider

Apple has joined Google in publicly opposing California’s Proposition 8, a measure intended to ban the rights of gay Californians to legally marry, and has contributed $100,000 to defeat the measure.

Both companies have a history of remaining politically neutral, but have chosen to take sides on this issue because it relates directly to the civil rights and opportunities of their employees.

In its Hot News feed, the company stated, “Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.”

Earlier, Google co-founder and president Sergey Brin wrote in the Official Google Blog, “it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 — we should not eliminate anyone’s fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.”

The No on 8 campaign notes that “Virtually every major paper in California is against Prop 8. The L.A. Times says it is ‘a drastic step to strip people of rights.’ La Opinión called Prop 8 ‘an unnecessary initiative.’ The San Diego Union Tribune wrote that Prop 8 ‘offends many Californians’ sense of fairness.’”

Apple’s $100,000 contribution to the No on 8 campaign is significant because the effort to stop the proposition has been systematically outgunned by out-of-state religious groups, who have poured cash into TV advertisements that threaten dire consequences if gays’ right to marry continue in the state. Among other claims, the ads state that if the proposition isn’t passed, California schools will force children to study gay marriage.

That claim prompted California Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell to announce that the proposition “has nothing to do with schools or kids. Our schools aren’t required to teach anything about marriage, and using kids to lie about that is shameful.”

In reality, California gays and lesbians have been able to marry since 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom arranged for ceremonies at City Hall, which led to a landmark state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. None of the claims pushed by Prop 8 supporters have occurred over the last four years.

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  • valit

    swinn said: “My views and a few of my associates can’t override the voice of the people to define what society will or will not consider moral. The people will have their say, again.”

    Whatever the outcome of next week’s vote, I repeat what I’ve already said: to be able to define something as immoral, I would say you need unanimous condemnation and you are not going to get that with this proposition 8 vote. In fact, there are good chances (fingers crossed) the proposition will not even pass. You would have no such uncertainty on issues like paedophilia or murder which, I think we will agree, can be classified as immoral.

    “If you want moral absolutes you need to make an appeal to God or nature”

    Well, I don’t think I believe in God so I would prefer it if we used rational thought to interpret nature for the sake of this debate.

    “But if you take a trip in the Way-Back machine you will find that society had a much wider consensus on same sex marriage not too many years ago. Homosexuality was considered immoral and gay marriage was nigh-unthinkable. As I have been saying, morals have been shifting.”

    If I can get you to climb into your Way-Back machine once more and travel a little farther back, you will find that homosexuality was no issue then. In fact, I think homosexuality was no issue until around the 12th century BC when the Church made a big stink about it. I would agree that same-sex marriage would have been inconceivable back then but, you know what else, it would also have been inconceivable for women to be considered equal to men and people didn’t think much of imprisoning enemies and selling them as slaves. As you say, society evolves and I’m not sure that what was considered appropriate a thousand years ago should influence how we organise our lives today. All those changes have required a lot of conflicts and at each stage there were people fighting those changes so you’re not the first one and you won’t be the last.

    “It is natural. [...] if it were just about culture then homosexuals could reproduce”

    You are confusing marriage and reproduction. You don’t need to be married to reproduce and you don’t need to be able to reproduce to get married. You cannot possibly argue that marriage is a natural, rather than cultural, institution. In some societies children are raised only by women, in other ones only by men. Those societies are far from us but throughout the animal kingdom for instance, in very few cases do both parents stick around to watch over their offsprings. Marriage is an entirely cultural construct.

    “I think an APA study compares pretty poorly to the laws of nature and human history. The sampling is pretty small by comparison.”

    Well, the laws of nature and human history can’t show us that children don’t fare well with gay parents because obviously there isn’t ample evidence of that. What we can rely on are a body of evidence that has emerged in studies carried out over the last 20-30 years in families headed by same-sex couples so before I copy & paste a little extract here, I would leave it to you to find opposing scientific evidence to prove your position.

    “Some opponents of gay marriage worry that gay couples just do not make as good of parents as straight couples, and that in fact a child cannot grow up both physically and emotionally healthy in a household headed by a homosexual couple. However, a scientific consensus has coalesced around the opinion that homosexual couples are no better or worse as parents than heterosexual couples. Underscoring this fact is the list of “organizations that have officially supported adoption by same-sex couples: the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the American Bar Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians” (“GLBT Parenting” 2007)

  • swinn

    “To be able to define something as immoral, I would say you need unanimous condemnation” – You’ll never get it. There are always deviants in any society as well as people who will tolerate anything.

    “You would have no such uncertainty on issues like paedophilia or murder which, I think we will agree, can be classified as immoral.” – Really? You and I will agree, but where is the unanimous condemnation? Pedophiles and murderers won’t agree. Anarchists won’t agree. NAMBLA won’t agree. What the general public considers moral is always going to be something of a popularity contest. It will be based on how people behave and how much sympathy they can garner for their behavior.

    “Well, I don’t think I believe in God so I would prefer it if we used rational thought to interpret nature for the sake of this debate.” – Fair enough, however, I will add some food for thought. If there are no absolute moral standards and our society’s definition of what is moral keeps changing to accommodate people’s desires and behavior, when will we cross your line and what will you do about it?

    “If I can get you to climb into your Way-Back machine once more and travel a little farther back, you will find that homosexuality was no issue then.” – It has been an issue for a very long time. Much longer than the 12th Century AD and in more than one culture. Israel in 1400 BC for example. Hinduism at about the same time, or possibly much earlier (5500-2600 BC). Many others like Zoroastrianism and Buddhism around 600 BC or even Islam at 700 AD. It has been a moral issue throughout recorded history and most likely before. Yes, those are all religions, but let’s not get muddled with the idea that religion = morality again. They are not just religions, they are moral philosophies too.

    “As you say, society evolves and I’m not sure that what was considered appropriate a thousand years ago should influence how we organise our lives today.” – And society de-evolves. We are not just talking about what was considered moral 1000 years ago. We are talking about changes that have bubbled up in less than a generation. People’s take on moral issues can be a bit like the stock market. At the moment they may be crashing too. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there really were moral absolutes?

    “You are confusing marriage and reproduction.” – Not marriage. Remember, I was responding to your comment about natural families. Reproduction and the concept of family have a good deal going together. I allowed for an “alternative family” definition if you cared to use it, but it doesn’t go anywhere naturally. It doesn’t grow on its own. But since you started in this vein by confusing my argument (marriage vs family), I won’t pursue it further.

    “Well, the laws of nature and human history can’t show us that children don’t fare well with gay parents because obviously there isn’t ample evidence of that.” – So, why are we rushing to change it again?

    “What we can rely on are a body of evidence that has emerged in studies carried out over the last 20-30 years . . . I would leave it to you to find opposing scientific evidence to prove your position.” – Isn’t that what science does, question? My position has never been that homosexuals cannot make “good” parents. My observation is that nature finds it most appropriate for men and women to produce and raise children. If you think that is just a trick of genetics, then so be it. Natural systems are some of the most complex in the world. There are invariably high degrees of interdependence among the different elements, many of which are not well understood. Men and women are different in many ways. Science has put a great deal of politically motivated effort into disproving that, but the truth remains. It stands to reason, therefore, that both men and women have important roles to play in a family. Our current moral culture has been bent toward accepting alternative lifestyles and alternative families. You may argue that people’s desires to change the definition of family and a few scientific studies are sufficient reason to make and enormous change to the structure of society. I would and have been arguing the contrary.

  • http://www.aboutjack.com aboutjack

    swinn:: valet’s comments aside, my reply to your post is simply that our goal in this country — if the objective is to increase peace and prosperity from the same political vector upon which we have been proceeding — should be to expand acceptance of societal diversity as far as possible in our legal constructs, over time. “As far as possible” will always be constrained by how far individuals and groups of citizens will expand their own tolerance and embrace legislation designed to achieve the larger goals. How tolerant can each of us be to approaches fundamentally in opposition to our own narrower views? The answer to that question defines the degree to which this unique, amazing American experiment can continue to prosper for all of us.

  • valit

    swinn said: “It has been an issue for a very long time…. Hinduism at about the same time, or possibly much earlier (5500-2600 BC).”

    The Advocate (Oct 31, 2008) reports:
    Navya Shastra, the international Hindu reform organization based in Troy, Mich., sent out a press release Friday urging California voters to reject Proposition 8, which would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry under California law.

    The organization notes that Hinduism has never classified homosexuality as a sin. While some ancient law codes have been critical of homosexual acts, the denomination has never called for the persecution of gays. In fact, there is ample evidence that alternative lifestyles have been accepted throughout Hindu history. Several modern Hindu leaders have also spoken positively of gay rights; however, many American Hindus remain uncomfortable with homosexuality.

    “According to the Hindu contemplative tradition, we are all manifestations of the one universal spirit, straight or gay, and worthy of the same respect and rights” said Jaishree Gopal, chairman of Navya Shastra, in the release. “We urge American Hindus in California to remember this central insight of their faith when they vote on November 4.”

    I can’t go into the details of what you wrote today – just pointing out that the facts you mention are misinformed and biased by your own belief that there is something wrong or unnatural about homosexuality. It’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it, just don’t try to lend it objective validity by quoting your own interpretations of religions and nature.

  • valit

    Swinn said: “What the general public considers moral is always going to be something of a popularity contest”. – I disagree. If you subscribe to the concept of a societal sense of morality, it means you accept that there is some kind of fondamental sense of good and bad. Something that’s so hotly debated as homosexuality can’t qualify as such. It’s like saying the Democrats or the Republicans are immoral, based on the latest poll…

    “I will add some food for thought. If there are no absolute moral standards and our society’s definition of what is moral keeps changing to accommodate people’s desires and behavior” – I think there’s an inconsistency in your argument. You’re the one who just said there are no “absolute” moral standards, that it’s a popularity contest. I’m saying if you are going to claim something is moral/immoral, you’re going to need some stronger support than 51% of society.

    “It has been an issue for a very long time. Much longer than the 12th Century AD and in more than one culture.” – That is what you’re claiming. It’s debatable. But most importantly it’s immaterial. We’re starting to repeat ourselves. Slavery and a firm belief in the inferiority of women have been very popular concept in the majority of societies and throughout most of history. Are you going to defend those illuminated values too under the banner of “let’s go back to good old times”?

    “People’s take on moral issues can be a bit like the stock market. At the moment they may be crashing too. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there really were moral absolutes?” – Your desire for moral absolutes is endearing but idealistic. And dangerous too. It’s the basis of much persecution throughout history. I’ll just say one thing: one of the examples I used before. I said people would consider murder to be immoral, but I have to take that back. Look how many people are in favour of the death penalty.

    “I was responding to your comment about natural families. Reproduction and the concept of family have a good deal going together.” – My comment was that marriage (and family as a unit defined by marriage) is a cultural, not natural, construct. You claim that the fact that it takes a man and a woman to create life is enough to prove that marriage is a natural construct and I pointed out that reproduction is not the same as marriage. Reproduction can certainly be defined as natural – marriage, as in the organisation and recognition of two people with their children as being a legal entity and the basis of society is a cultural concept. I don’t know that I could put this in any clearer words. It should be enough to point out that it’s very rare in nature for both parents to be involved in the rearing of children or that it’s not even the case universally in all societies.

    “My observation is that nature finds it most appropriate for men and women to produce and raise children.” – Produce, yes. Raise, debatable. You’re universalising our own cultural heritage, giving the status quo moral unquestionability. I don’t think we’re ever going to agree on that.

    Anyway – I think we should wrap this up… Not that I want to have the last word, feel free to reply but I’m not sure I will continue debating this back and forth.

    So if you’re in California, just vote No on 8 and if we run into each other I’ll buy you coffee and we can continue discussing face to face.

  • swinn

    valit: You incorrectly asserted that homosexuality was only an issue with Christianity beginning around the 12th Century. I cited several moral traditions in several cultures that predate that significantly. I’m glad you had the intellectual honesty to include the information on ancient Hindu law. It proves the point I was trying to make. It is a moral issue and has been for a long time across multiple cultures.

    Your counter argument citing a very modern (only a few days ago) take on the Prop 8 argument from a Hindu reform organization also adds weight to what I have been saying. Society’s definition of morality has been changing. Ancient law and tradition discouraged homosexual acts. Some modern religionists have been embracing a different set of morals. Many people who remain true to the original moral traditions are not comfortable with that.

    “Just pointing out that the facts you mention are misinformed” – I think you have actually validated the points I was trying to make.

    “If you subscribe to the concept of a societal sense of morality, it means you accept that there is some kind of fondamental sense of good and bad.” – Not exactly. If you subscribe to a fundamental, innate sense of good and bad that would mean you accept the idea of moral absolutes. You may not know the source of these morals, but they would somehow be natural and logical to everyone.

    “[something is] immoral, based on the latest poll…” – If there is no absolute right or wrong, what else have you got? You have stated that in your philosophy there are no moral absolutes. You also said that societal morality must have absolute consensus to be valid. I have showed (pretty clearly I think) that that is not possible. If you will allow no absolutes, an impossible unanimous consensus, and no majority consensus, what can be considered moral or immoral? Should the minority’s moral definitions make public policy? Now we are back to legalizing murder for the murderers and pedophillia for the pedophiles again.

    “You’re the one who just said there are no ‘absolute’ moral standards, that it’s a popularity contest.” – Sorry I lost you. My food for thought was a bit of cautionary advice for people who do not subscribe to moral absolutes. I do. For the sake of argument, I make the case that it is the public’s definition that matters (in this case) and will become law (because it will). I point to what morality was and show how some people’s idea of it has changed. The implied question is do we know what we are getting into? If there really are moral absolutes, then it doesn’t matter in the slightest what the public’s perception is. Right will be right and wrong will be wrong no matter how many people subscribe to it. I hope I haven’t lost you again.

    “I’m saying if you are going to claim something is moral/immoral, you’re going to need some stronger support than 51% of society.” – I don’t know why that would be. If you don’t accept the notion of moral absolutes then you have to go with the consensus view. What else is there? You can’t take the minority view unless you are willing to allow everything the most anti-social elements of a society can dream up.

    “I think we should wrap this up… Not that I want to have the last word, feel free to reply but I’m not sure I will continue debating this back and forth.” – Agreed, after tomorrow the debate will be moot for awhile anyway, until the next time. I’m sure whatever the outcome people will continue to pursue the issue.

    I am in California. I am a rational, free-thinking individual with no hatred or malice toward anyone regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, Republican or Democrat, religion or no religion, creed or no creed, and I’m voting Yes on Proposition 8.

  • valit

    Thanks for the debate. Though it’s been a bit like talking to a wall. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, the fear and mistrust of whatever strays off conventional mores have been part of our self-obsessed society for the longest time. These are the traditional values you’ve chosen to stand for claiming some moral superiority of mass culture. I don’t think we’ll ever agree on this so go ahead and vote yes if you want and hopefully you’ll have become a minority in these societal changes you so fervently decry.