Daniel Eran Dilger
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What Prop 8 Means to America

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Daniel Eran Dilger

Californians voted to give factory farmed pigs and chickens new rights under Prop 2 but voted to take rights away from its gay citizens with Prop 8. How was it that one of the bluest states in the Union turned against its progressive values and voted to write discrimination into the state constitution?

The simple answer: a hard hitting ad campaign costing over $70 million that pretended the measure was about “protecting families” rather than being a religious assault on minority rights. In reality, Prop 8 was the last hurrah for a group seeking to push its influence before losing its access to the Presidency that had granted it legitimacy over the last eight years.
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The Battle of Prop 8.

Proponents of Prop 8 were angry that the state’s Attorney General changed the bill from the cheerily named “California Marriage Protection Act” to the more accurate title “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” They were upset because the bill wasn’t designed to create controversy; it was intended to silently rob citizens of their existing rights in an effort by blindly religious groups to poke out the eyes of the state’s populace so that the blinded could be led by the blind.

Arguments for Prop 8 were all presented as panicky fear-based scenarios, with parents being warned that their children would be hauled off to witness same sex marriage without their consent, and that state law mandates that children must be indoctrinated into homosexuality by public schools, even though that wasn’t happening. Prop 8 supporters were apparently unfazed by the fact that under California law, cousins can marry. Their version of “protection” only targeted gays.

The “protection” promised by Prop 8’s backers was enough to result in violent confrontations, such as the 6’2”, 250 pound Polynesian man who knocked down and punched a 17 year old girl who opposed Prop 8 in San Mateo, while 35 year old Ivan Schaumkel spit in her face. Both assailants, along with another juvenile male who punched a resident in the face who tried to intervene, were proudly supporting the “protection” afforded them by Prop 8. Two of the three supporter-assailants were arrested before they could flee.

How could religious groups possibly be involved in stirring up anger and violence through a political fight over imposed morality that scapegoats a minority population? The religious groups behind Prop 8 tried to keep a friendly face on the measure while at the same time appealing to prejudice and latent hatred against gays in the state, a particularly effective strategy among black voters, where Prop 8 was supported by 70% of those voting.

Police: Girl assaulted during Proposition 8 rally, two arrested – San Jose Mercury News

The Response to Prop 8.

The first response to the passing of Prop 8 has been a series of legal challenges brought by the ACLU, Santa Clara County and the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, and a third case brought by a married lesbian couple.

One challenge maintains that the measure was illegal because it it was presented as a simple amendment to the state constitution when it was in fact a much broader constitution revision. The difference relates to the scope and impact a constitutional change involves. An amendment only requires a majority vote, while a revision demands passage in the Legislature before going to voters.

“The magnitude here is that you are effectively rendering equal protection a nullity if a simple majority can so easily carve an exception into it,” attorney Jennifer Pizer told the LA Times. “Equal protection is supposed to prevent the targeting and subjugation of a minority group by a simple majority vote.”

Gay rights backers file 3 lawsuits challenging Prop. 8 – Los Angeles Times

Another impact related to Prop 8 is a promise voiced by California Senator Mark Leno to introduce legislation to bar anyone from exploiting children for political purposes by using their images without their parent’s permission. The Yes on 8 campaign prominently featured a video of children in San Francisco whose parents had signed their approval for them to attend their teacher’s same sex wedding. The footage was used in their commercials to suggest that the children were forced to attend without their parents’ consent.

Ironically, the Yes on 8 campaign’s dire warning about the potential threat that gay marriage would cause in subjecting children to the reality of the existence of gays and subsequently their potential interest in marrying each other… was itself the largest publicity campaign ever waged for informing the state’s children about gay marriage.

The Impact of Prop 8.

Apart from teaching children attached to the TV about gay marriage, Prop 8 also threatens the ability of state businesses to attract and retain top talent, particularly in highly competitive markets such as biotech and software development, a key reason why Apple, Google, and other Silicon Valley companies took sides against it. Outlawing same-sex marriage will also cost state and local governments an estimated $64 million in lost revenues.

The real impact of Prop 8 however is reflected in the true identity of the effort: a last ditch plot by religious extremists now at the apex of their political influence to push their intention to remake America into a religious theocracy that bases its policy not on rational thought and liberal democracy, but rather upon emotionally propelled fascist propaganda where people are told what to believe based on the interpretations of scriptures deciphered by a powerful elite clergy class, and threatened with eternal damnation or at least social stigma if they resist.

If that sounds far fetched, consider two of the proposition’s biggest individual donors, as noted by investigative journalist Max Blumenthal: “Elsa Broekhuizen, the mother of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, and Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., the reclusive theocratic millionaire who inherited $300 million from his famous father at age 18.”

Red Sex, Blue Sex: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

Ahmanson: God’s Rich Gift to the Right.

The reclusive Ahmanson described his political views in a 1985 interview, where he stated, “my goal is the total integration of biblical law into our lives.” Blumenthal noted that Ahmanson’s “politics are derived from the radical Christian Reconstructionist theology of R.J. Rushdoony, a far-right theologian who advocated replacing the US Constitution with biblical law.”

Blumenthal cited Rushdoony as writing “God’s government prevails, and His alternatives are clear-cut: either men and nations obey His laws, or God invokes the death penalty against them.” “Those eligible on Rushdoony’s long list for execution,” Blumenthal explained, “included disobedient children, unchaste women, apostates, blasphemers, practitioners of witchcraft, astrologers, adulterers, and, of course, anyone who engaged in ‘sodomy or homosexuality.’”

The threat of Prop 8’s defeat in California was not about the undermining of “traditional marriage,” which had only existed in California for all of eight years since the “one man and one woman” definition had first been added to California law by 2000’s Prop 22, but rather the fear that a failure of Prop 8 “would represent a decisive repudiation of the theocratic fantasy outlined by Rushdoony and mainstreamed by Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Lou Engle and countless evangelical minions,” Blumenthal wrote.

Ahmanson donated at least $900,000 to the passage of Prop 8. He obtained his $300 million inheritance as a teenager after witnessing his own parents’ marriage fail at age ten, and then being orphaned by 18. Plagued with Tourette’s syndrome, he was diagnosed as as schizophrenic and spent two years in a psychiatric institution in Kansas. The rest of his life has been spent embittered and isolated due to his mental health issues.

The young Ahmanson was enchanted with Rushdoony’s philosophy of “Christian Reconstructionism,” which “outlined plans for the church to take over the federal government and reconstruct it along biblical lines.”

“Calling for the literal application of all 613 laws described in the Book of Leviticus, Rushdoony paid special attention to punishments. Instead of serving prison sentences, criminals would be sentenced to indentured servitude, whipped, sold into slavery, or executed.”

In 2001, the year Rushdoony died, “Ahmanson gave $1 million to the Institute for Religion and Democracy, a conservative outfit in Washington focused on weakening the political influence of historically liberal mainline churches.” By smearing any religious group that didn’t support Rushdoony’s extremist views, religious influence over politics under the Bush Administration tilted abruptly into the extreme fanaticism of the fundamentalist fringe.

Max Blumenthal – The Mystery Man Behind Prop 8

The Unlikely Republican Coalition.

While not entirely new, the odd coalition between coldly rational corporate interests and hotly impassioned but irrational fundamentalist religious groups working together within the Republican Party shifted into overdrive as President Bush took office eight years ago.

Bush ran on a platform of restoring moralism to the White House after the Republican Party led President Clinton through years of false accusations related to Whitewater fraud, allegations of rape, a story of Arkansas troupers who were supposedly paid to arrange sexual liaisons for Clinton but were actually found to have been paid to testify falsely against him with a concocted story, and even the suggestion that he had something to do with the suicide of an associate.

In his bid to take the Presidency, Bush promised fundamentalists political patronage and faith-based funding for their support, and fundamentalists helped sweep him into office. After 9/11, Bush was able to maintain power by infecting the country with fear, a strategy that worked well enough to enable him to ignore many of the demands of fundamentalists.

Unintended Consequences in Abortion.

For example, while paying lip service to religious political goals such as outlawing abortion, Bush did nothing to actually slow the number of abortions performed. In fact, Catholic Democrats report that “during the Reagan Administration, the number of abortions rose significantly and peaked during the George H. W. Bush Administration. In contrast, during the Clinton Administration the number of abortions fell significantly (to 1.3 million a year from 1.6 million a year during the Bush 41 Administration), and were performed at a significantly earlier stage in pregnancy. During the current Bush Administration, these declines have slowed almost to a standstill. In fact, rates of abortions for teenagers and poor people appear to have increased.”

A study by Catholics United indicated that “lower unemployment, higher rates of health insurance coverage, and greater availability of Head Start centers are more effective at lowering abortion rates than lower availability of abortion providers,” and “suggests that abortion reduction is best achieved by addressing the root causes of abortion than restricting access to abortion services.”

Bush’s defunding of the UN’s Population Fund, a program supported by both John McCain and Barack Obama, prevented international access to birth control in the form of condoms, contraceptive pills, and IUDs for the poor, resulting in an estimated 157,000 unwanted pregnancies, 62,000 abortions, and 660 women dying in childbirth.

So while the right hailed Bush for claiming to be “Pro-Life,” in practice their leader caused more abortions both in the US and internationally, an ugly irony for many religious voters who only based their decision on a single issue: abortion. They were handed state-sponsored torture and killings of uncharged detainees and mass civilian deaths in the Iraq war as an ironic bonus for supposedly voting “Pro-Life.”

Catholic Democrats: Abortion Questions & Answers
Can This Be Pro-Life? – NYTimes.com

An Irrational National Agenda.

Bush crafted other public policy based on irrational religious ideas, such as the idea that no consideration need be given to environmental issues such as climate change, the protection of animal species, or clear air and water because extremist fundamentalists only recognize short term profits, thinking that long term impacts to the earth are irrelevant because they plan to ditch the planet soon in the coming Rapture.

Foreign policy was also crafted around fundamentalist ideas that suggest endless war in the Middle East is the only way to get God’s attention and subsequently trigger the Last Days. For true believers, the death of a million innocent people and the loss of thousands of American soldiers is nothing compared to invoking the Rapture.

Along the same lines, while Bush is given credit for being “strong on Israel,” Edgar M. Bronfman, the former president of the World Jewish Congress and a staunch supporter the nation of Israel pointed out that Bush has so “badly mishandled” things that “Israel is further from peace than it was at the end of the Clinton administration,” and that “the result of the Bush doctrine in the Middle East has been an America and an Israel that are regarded with hatred and fear.” Bronfman endorsed Obama as being “the leader who can begin to undo some of the damage done by Bush’s policies.”

Edgar M. Bronfman: Israel’s Best Interest is a Morally Strong America

Prop 8 is the Beginning of the End for Hate in America.

The fundamentalists’ attack on gay rights in Prop 8 signals a watershed moment in history. While the extremists so far appear to be ahead, their margin of victory is within a few points. Just eight years ago, Prop 22 passed the same language in California with whopping 61% approval before being struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. Backers also had to spend far more to push Prop 8, and did so against an extremely weak campaign that failed to expose its ties to radical religion and instead meekly suggested it was simply “unnecessary.”

That indicates the religious right has slipped dramatically in California despite two terms of a radically fundamentalist-friendly administration, as many years of Fox News to propagate its policies with enthusiastic endorsement rather than any criticism, and a nationwide religious call for Yes on 8 advertising funding that made it a record-setting milestone in paid-for legislation.

The attempt to codify religion into the state constitution under the guise of “protecting marriage” is now closely associated with the disastrous course of the Bush Administration and its failed policies often based on a willing adherence to irrational religious dogma. Its attack on the civil liberties of gays is a clear parallel to the fundamentalist’s coy attacks on science, which don’t outright demand a return to the 13th century, but subtly hint that all knowledge is simply unknowable.

As heroine to the religious right fringe, Sarah Palin did just that during the debates when she said she didn’t want to argue about the cause of global warming, suggesting that everything is questionable and that nothing is knowable, so even the most crackpot ideas are on the same level as internationally accepted scientific thought. Palin also didn’t want to discuss whether being gay was a “choice” after saying that a gay acquaintance had made a “choice” she wouldn’t have made.

The abrupt liquidation of the religious right’s dream to instill Palin as “Queen Esther,” the biblical figure who ingratiated herself into power and enabled her people to slaughter their enemies, has been a crushing setback to those seeking to push an agenda of hate using fear, and to hide it all under the guise of ‘an innocent upgrade of values’ attempted through codifying religious morality rather than spreading it as a voluntary, personally held matter of faith.

The Very Real Danger.

Extremist religious groups want to leave every question of science wide open in order to suggest that the only real authority is theirs, based on their interpretation of who should be stoned and why. This leaves very little room for telling fundamentalist Christians apart from fundamentalist Islamists.

The main difference is that Islamic radicals currently pose little immediate threat within the US, while radical groups associated with Christian Reconstructionism, the Constitution Party, and its “Patriot” umbrella movement that includes everything from Alaska separatists to the fringe militia terrorists who bombed the Oklahoma Federal Building pose an immediate threat that is likely the most virulent, dangerous, and unrecognized danger ever posed to the United States and its two century history as a liberal democracy.

Once a radical group decides that its influence over society is waning and that its wealth has a limited ability to buy favors and that its political affiliations are no longer working in its favor, the only path left is to incite violent terrorism to achieve its goals, something that has already become a common subject among right wing talkers and will very likely bloom into something even uglier under a new administration that has little regard for its radical agenda to reconstruct the US under the scriptures of Leviticus instead of our liberal Constitution.

Other articles on current events:

Mormons, Fundamentalists, Islamists Back Prop H(8) with Big Bucks
Former FCC Chair Reed Hundt: Issues the next president faces in technology
McCain vs. Obama Presidential Pop Quiz: Socialism
McCain, Palin Push Ashley Todd into Limelight. Oops.
Apple gives $100,000 to fight California gay marriage ban
Terrorist Criminal Links to the Presidential Candidates
Obama-Biden, McCain-Palin: Scandals by the Numbers
Terrorist Criminal Links to the Presidential Candidates
The Big Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Attack
Osama Bin Laden’s Dream of US Economic Collapse
You Know the Drill?
Ten Striking Parallels Between Microsoft and John McCain
Obama’s Apple, McCain’s Microsoft: the Politics of Tech

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  • GwMac

    It amazes me that in the year 2008 this type of discrimination still exist. Imagine if civil rights had been put on a ballot as a proposition, I can guarantee you that it would not have passed. Enough already, if Obama is truly about change, hopefully he will do something about this nonsense and finally bring this country into the 21st century. A good place to start is that “Don’t ask don’t tell” policy in the military. Just allow gays to serve openly like so many other progressive countries already do. Perhaps another thing he could do is to offer the same job benefits to gay couples employed by the federal government like some private companies already allow. It is time to finally put an end to this last “accepted” form of discrimination once and for all.

  • Orenge

    Prop 8 is sickening. This kind of hate hurts (not helps) families and helps… nobody.

    I can’t help thinking of all the people who fell for the lies in the ads, and voted the opposite of their own values! I’m sure thousands of people will look back in a year or two and feel ashamed to have been a part of such ignorance and hate. Look into the eyes of the people you have hurt and try to tell yourself it was worth it.

  • TonyR

    You’re pretty much preaching to the choir as far as I’m concerned, but I will agree with Markos at Daily Kos in that the No on 8 campaign was pretty shoddily run. They didn’t “leave it all on the table”. The No on 8 folks were steamrolled by a better organized and better funded movement. Should we complain about the money they had and we didn’t, I’m sure a better run campaign could have done things differently and more effectively. For what it’s worth, I did contribute. I’m bummed that in my home state, bigotry won out. I only the hope the courts can turn it around or we can spend the time to educate the masses about how this is an affront the civil rights of all and come back when a more enlightened population will vote.

  • walter

    It is rather strange that you bill the passing of Prop. 8 as voters turning away from their “progressive values,” rather than recognizing the vote as a proclamation of more conservative values. I think your surroundings in San Francisco have blinded you to the fact that there are many residents in California that are much more conservative than you. We should invoke Occam’s Razor here. Was it really a giant operation to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes? Was the renaming of the ballot measure too little to overcome this vast right-wing conspiracy? Maybe people just wanted to define marriage the way the proposition declared.

    [There is no “value” associated with writing discrimination into the constitution. Do you also think Jim Crow laws were “conservative values”?]

    You say the vote fell this way because of a massive ad campaign. Do you also attribute Obama’s victory to the record-breaking campaign expenditure he used to flood the market with advertisements? While people can be dumb and sheep-like, they are not that stupid. Scare tactics alone don’t work. Just look at how McCain’s attempts to brand Obama as a socialist and associate him with known and proud terrorists like Ayers failed to produce results. Incidentally, I found it quite repugnant that the tone of your article about terrorist associations of the candidates seemed apologetic for Ayers.

    [Obama’s campaign wasn’t a series of lies pushing the secret dismantling of America. Prop 8 not only lied, but was a lie. It wasn’t a “protection,” it was an attack pretending not to be.]

    The fact is that this is still a center-right country. Just look at the presidential election for evidence. To get elected, Obama had to compete against a lukewarm centrist candidate that failed to capture the hearts of the conservative voting base; he had to outspend this lukewarm candidate by more than five-to-one; the economy had to tank at just the right time to make the Republicans look awful; he had to continually make the case that his opponent would be a clone of the standing president, with a ridiculously low approval rating; and Obama had to paint himself as a middle-of-the-road pragmatist instead of a liberal. Despite all this, Obama won the popular vote by a margin of only 6%. In contrast, Reagan respectively won his two elections by margins of 10 and 18%.

    [I like how Fox News watchers are all over the “center-right” talking point in just 24 hours. So after overwhelmingly electing a “socialist” with “marxist” tendencies, America really just wants the nation to shrink into more right wing politics. And on the other side, centrist McCain turned right winger, paired with that religious nut Palin who “ENERGIZED THE BASE!!!!” is now a weak centrist who DIDN’T ENERGIZE THE BASE!! Obama didn’t paint himself as a liberal, you and Fox did. And then Americans voted for him overwhelmingly, far more than Bush’s supposed “mandate” that he interpreted as “political capital he planned to spend!!”

    Anyone who can pay attention to your Fox nonsense for 24 consecutive hours can see through the desperate historical revisionism going on.]

    Of course, homosexuals still have the same rights they did on Monday; civil unions still offer everything except the name “marriage.” What homosexuals are really looking for is mainstreaming of their lifestyle and endorsement from the government with a marriage certificate. Except homosexuality will always be a minority lifestyle, so by definition it will never be mainstream.

    [How about blacks, when do they go “mainstream”? How about employed women? What does Bill O’Reilly have to say about that? Seriously you’re just making a fool of yourself here. ]

    And I fail to see why endorsement by the government is so important. Before you brand me insensitive and a bigot for failing to understand why this is so important to the homosexual community, first answer why they fail to understand and tolerate that most of the voters simply don’t want to call their unions marriages. It’s funny that the political side that preaches loudest about tolerance and acceptance of different viewpoints is so quick to attack their opponents with words like “bigot” or “racist.” I’ve even read you attack the conservatives as knuckle-dragging.

    [If you don’t understand why being bigoted is bigoted, I probably can’t help you clear that up.]

    The quote you printed from Jennifer Pizer is particularly interesting: “Equal protection is supposed to prevent the targeting and subjugation of a minority group by a simple majority vote.” What about decisions to tax the rich? Isn’t that the less-wealthy majority simply subjugating the wealthy minority to pay for government welfare like economic stimulus checks or Obama’s new tax credit?

    And don’t respond to that with a “pay their fair share” comment. We all know the top 10% of wage earners cover 70% of the tax revenue. Not to mention that 40% of the workers in this country pay no income tax.

    [And how many days per month do you work three jobs just to barely pay your rent? You’re quick to hate people who haven’t been handed wealth by your fortunate position in the stream of time, but don’t tell me about how you can’t afford to support society out of your excess when people around you have miserable lives no matter how much they work, in many cases directly related to the injustice people such as yourself have put into place.]

  • crmarvin42

    I found it interesting that you made reference to Prop 2. You are the only news outlet to have discussed it outside of the Ag focused newspaper/magazine Feedstuffs. You describe prop 8 as:

    a hard hitting ad campaign costing over $70 million that pretended the measure was about “protecting families” rather than being a religious assault on minority rights.

    While I agree with your sentiment (let gays get married, no difference to me if they do) I’m curious if you’ve realized just how ironic this really is. Prop 2 was similarly a move to force vegitarian/vegansim on the poor by dramtically increasing the price of meat and eggs disguised as an attempt to improve animal welfare in animal production facilities. CA is the largest Ag state in the union and this prop will kill the layer industry for sure in your state and you already pay more for eggs than the rest of the country. The guidelines that were in place before Prop 2 became law were fairly recent revisions that had been decided upon by nationally recognized animal ethologists as to what was best for the animals. However, two groups (one a vocal animal rights group and the other an open proponent of vegitarianism) pushed a proposition forward that was not based on the research into the natural behaviors and inclinations of farm animals, but was instead on the emotional belief of it’s members that animals are people too.

    I’m a proponent of responsible animal production, a vocal supporter of true animal welfare, an animal nutritionist, and completely ashamed of the voter of CA for the dichotomy of the two propositions and their results.

  • oomu

    Prop8 appears for me as totally anti-american stuff.

  • oomu

    ” It’s funny that the political side that preaches loudest about tolerance and acceptance of different viewpoints is so quick to attack their opponents with words like “bigot” or “racist.””

    because it is. I don’t want to accept many things others people want. But it’s not doing harm, I have nothing to tell.

    If people want to be happy, I’m happy to allow that.

    I don’t care about mainstream or whatever immoral ideas about majority and minority.

    Some people want to be married ? I’m GLAD to let them. It’s not my way of living, It’s not my believing, it’s not what I would do, but it’s NOT my Call ! I don’t want to choose how they should live or call things, I don’t want to interrupt people. I don’t want to mess in people’s life. To help them? yes, To mess them ? NO !

    Because _I_ love people and their happiness. not you.

  • davecool

    Thank you Daniel for another wonderful article. As a gay married man living in Canada, I am saddened, but not shocked by the result on Prop 8. I think you’re right, though… the winds are changing… and have been doing so for quite some time. Steady progress is the track record of the United States, and while that progress takes time, it eventually does happen.

    I have to say, though, that looking down from Canada, all the fuss over gay marriage in America seems pretty silly. We’ve had gay marriage nationally since 2004 and it’s working well. My husband and I were married four years ago today (happy anniversary to us!) and, to be honest, I can’t see how our marriage is different from any of our straight married friends.

    My husband immigrated to Canada from the United States so we could be married. I may have moved to the US instead if our relationship would have been recognized (we may still do that one day… hopefully the possibility will become available in the near future). My husband also feels that leaving the US was a good choice, given how negative the Bush administration has been toward gays. We often joke that he got out just in time. ;-)

    Something I have noticed during the Prop 8 debate is that the “Yes” (anti-gay marriage) side commonly makes statements which are simply anti-gay, not anti-gay marriage. It’s unfortunate in this day that people still believe that being gay is wrong. Fortunately, it is legal to be gay (this should be one of those ‘self evident truths’, not something we specifically make legal) and attacks on simply “being gay” hold no weight.

    I take a hard line on gay rights. Not simply because I am gay, but because I believe in education, rational thought, medical research and science. I do not believe that a person can be moral or ethical if they are anti-gay. Science tells us that homosexuality is not a choice (this is something every gay person already knows), so believing that it is a choice not only goes against basic human dignity, but it goes against the rational thought that science brings to the table. It is a fact, and if you believe anything different, you need to change your beliefs to come in line with the facts science gives us. It is as simple as that.

    At this point we could break into a religious debate, however, I often find that forcing someone to change their beliefs is impossible. Change must come from within. A person who believes that being gay is wrong or that gay marriage is wrong needs to understand that they are denying some of the most cherished rights from being accessed by others. At some point, a will to understand and change must come from within that person. Oftentimes the debate has to be put to them in just the right way before they will begin to understand.

    I am proud to be a Canadian. We have made continual steps to bring human rights to the forefront here. I hope… all Canadians hope… that the United States steps boldly into the future and welcomes all of it’s gay brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers into the fold — and does so soon.

    Thanks, David.

  • Joel

    “Except people of will always be a minority lifestyle, so by definition it will never be mainstream. And I fail to see why endorsement by the government is so important.”

    Just hope you will always be in the majority, because we could say the same thing about you one day. You wouldn’t have a problem with that, would you…?

  • Joel

    If Americans want to preserve the sanctity marriage, why don’t they make divorce illegal…? Because otherwise its just an expensive relationship…

  • WebManWalking

    “The magnitude here is that you are effectively rendering equal protection a nullity if a simple majority can so easily carve an exception into it,” attorney Jennifer Pizer told the LA Times. “Equal protection is supposed to prevent the targeting and subjugation of a minority group by a simple majority vote.”

    The US Constitution is very interesting reading. The official site is http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

    Have a look at the second paragraph of Article VI:

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

    It’s pretty explicit. Even a state constitution can’t override the constitution and laws of the Federal government.

    The specific phrase “equal protection” appears in Amendment XIV, which only strengthens Article VI:

    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    I work at a Federal government site in DC. We see this kind of stuff all the time. We call it “legislative theater”. You pass a law that you know is unconstitutional because you want to make a statement. Usually it’s done to pander to a constituency and get reelected. In the case of this proposition, it’s still just making a statement (on the part of the religions that supported it).

    I’m surprised that Jennifer Pizer thinks that it nullifies equal protection, however. An attorney should know constitutional law better than that.

    I guess what I’m saying is, don’t be disheartened by legislative theater. You still have equal protection under the law, though you may have to appeal to the Federal government to prove it.

    (P.S.: Did you notice in Amendment XIV that you don’t have to be a citizen to have equal protection? Before the semicolon, yes. After the semicolon, no.)

  • WebManWalking

    (Perhaps I should have said: Before the semicolon, citizen. After the semicolon, person.)

  • batonking

    I consider myself a conservative, but I guess conservatism as an ideology (at least as I understand it) has changed dramatically. “My” conservatism would tell me that people should be free to do what they will behind closed doors, associate with whomever they want, express whatever point of view they want…all without fear of, or the actual intrusion of, the government. I guess I don’t see how a true conservative could support Prop 8 from an ideological standpoint.

    Not living in CA, I haven’t followed the debate much and haven’t heard much of the back and forth, but I wonder what goal of Prop 8 really is. Ok, so gay people can’t get “married” and can’t have the same rights that “married” people do. Is that to dissuade people from being gay? Do supporters really think that this change will change behavior? Do they think that if gay marriage is legal that it will encourage more people to become gay? Such thinking demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding sexual orientation, but perhaps that is the subject of a different post.

    This conservative fails to see the harm in allowing gay marriage. Since people don’t choose to be gay (who would ever CHOOSE a life of systematically acceptable discrimination and ridicule?) whether or not gay people can marry won’t change behavior. Not allowing marriage rights seems designed only to allow the government to overreach into the personal lives of law abiding, productive citizens and punish them. The fact that Mary and Sara want to get married, does not in any way weaken the marriage of John and Kathleen. If anything, it demonstrates the desire to make a commitment to each other and to family, albeit a relatively new incarnation of family. If conservatives believe, as I do, that government over reaches in many areas of life (regulation, personal behavior, etc…) then a conservative should not support Prop 8.

  • ztscout

    Daniel,
    You should stick with covering mobile phone space. Your readers are coming for accurate information. Your Prop 8 rant is wildly biased. Prop 8 has nothing to do with “apex of religious right agenda”. It is intended to protect status quo in society and that is what majority wants. As evidenced by passage of the same prop in Florida & Arizona. Any time such common sense prop comes on the ballot it will be approved even in CA. However you can take heart in the fact 8 years ago Prop 22 was approved by 67% of voting body. Prop 8 this time was approved only by 52.5%. You are winning in the long term…

    [Yes some progress. But remember there was a populist national socialist party that similarly promised to protect the status quo by scapegoating Jews. That may have been popular during the apex of that party’s propaganda, but it wasn’t right. Nor is it today. ]

  • papatonyinsd

    Imagine that you’re climbing a ladder along with a diverse group of other people. Toward the end of the climb, the spirit of community is strong, and folks chant “Yes, we can!”, “Diversity is our strength!” and other inspirational slogans. We’re all helping each other, no matter how weak. Then, we get to the top – A black man is our new leader. Joy! Then, the black members of our mutual society turn around and say “Hey – what are YOU doing here?” and kick the gay folks in the face, knocking us back down to the bottom.
    Every gay person I know here in San Diego is ANGRY. It’s not okay to be biased and we’re all good Liberals, but holy crap. I don’t feel like I can trust that man or woman on the street any more. I don’t feel like smiling and waving these days, and I’m a really friendly guy. As I’m writing this, I’m printing up t-shirt iron-on transfers that say “I’m a SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN… And so is my husband”. I don’t believe it in the slightest, but I want to provoke discussion every place that I go. I’m feeling betrayed and unwanted, and I don’t like it. Equality is not an option, and it’s almost 2009!

  • http://www.alexcurylo.com alexcurylo

    “And then Americans voted for him overwhelmingly, far more than Bush’s supposed “mandate” that he interpreted as “political capital he planned to spend!!””

    Errrrmmm … I’m seeing 64,376,670 votes for Obama currently, as opposed to 62,040,606 for Bush ’04.

    A 3.7% difference is “overwhelmingly, far more”??

    Seriously?

    Could you please put an exact numerical value on what you consider “overwhelmingly” and “far more” to be defined as? Because the facts as reported do not seem to match your statements.

    Or, you know, even better, now that THE ELECTION’S OVER, you could go back to stuff that’s actually interesting. But that hope is starting to look a little forlorn ’tisn’t it.

  • steveO

    Yes on 8 Coalition…
    Social conservatives (80% of people that say they are religious), most Hispanics (55%), most Blacks (70%), most Asians (65%), almost all post cold war European immigrants.

    No on 8 coalition…
    Whites (52%) — the latte liberals, social liberals, and the Obama voters who stayed with the plan rather than vote their conscious.

    Had Obama not been on the ticket the vote would have been closer to the 60%+ pro traditional marriage the last time this issue was subject to an election.

    This is a Bay Area issue — the only counties that voted pro-gay marriage were clustered around San Francisco.

    To date propositions supporting gay marriage have lost 30 times — 30 states oppose it.

    In the eyes of most voters sexual preference is not tantamount to gender, race, and religion.

    [Apart from the megachurch suburbs, the vote against Prop 8 held in all the populated areas, not just SF. So the educated population that contributes to the state and to the nation. The welfare state, the bitter, sparsely populated rural areas clinging to their guns and religion are the red counties that liked the idea they were fed by the grossly dishonest ads.

    A 100 years ago, most Americans weren’t ready to give blacks civil rights or allow women to vote. That’s why the nation is designed to protect minorities from the ignorance and lack of sophistication of a raw democracy. It’s also why we have courts rather than pitchfork mobs handling our justice system. It’s shameful your demographic hasn’t grasped that yet.]

  • http://www.alexcurylo.com alexcurylo

    “In the eyes of most voters sexual preference is not tantamount to gender, race, and religion.”

    Well, we’ve had nationwide gay marriage up here in Canada on the basis that our Charter of Rights does consider those tantamount for some three and a half years now, and the republic does not appear to have fallen. So the whole thing looks kinda like a tempest in a teapot from here.

  • walter

    Marriage is not a right. It is mentioned nowhere in the US constitution, and its only mention in the California constitution is in reference to what happens in cases of dissolution of marriages. This is not a civil rights issue. This is about state recognition of a modern take on a traditional institution.

    Gays are not being deprived of their rights. They can do everything straight people can do. Failing to call a union between two men or two women (remember, civil unions can still be made) by the name “marriage” does not deprive the united people of any right.

    [The problem is that marriage is a legal concept that grants its participants rights related to insurance, taxes, benefits, inheritance, visitation, and many other things most of us take for granted. Denying those civil rights on a religious whim to satiate one’s ideology is the problem. One can invent the idea of civil unions or some other legal, non-religious idea that substitutes for marriage, but the same gay-hating religious groups have worked to ensure that these rights don’t apply to anyone who isn’t “married.”

    See also DOMA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Marriage_Act ]

    There is no parallel between this amendment and the Jim Crow laws. Gays are not being prevented from any action. They can still unite, and are still guaranteed protections because of that union. If they want, they can even say they are married. The only consequence of this amendment is that the state will not call such a union a marriage. Once again, homosexuals have the same rights today that they did before the amendment passed. Nothing has changed except the name of the union!

    The only thing the name “marriage” offers is a special endorsement from the government. However, the government should act on behalf of the people. The majority of people in California obviously don’t wish to provide this endorsement.

    [If you are prevented from visiting your dying partner in a hospital, being able to ineffectually “say your married for pretend” isn’t really a solution. Nor is having to pay taxes on your partner’s benefits because the federal government under Bush voted in a law that says you’re not a couple unless you are straight and married.]

    I have no problem with gays getting together. I don’t live in California. Had the proposition been voted down, it wouldn’t have mattered to me. I don’t claim that being gay is immoral, and I don’t think being gay is a choice. I’m not advocating that gays “straighten up” by criticizing your hatred for the people who voted for this proposition.

    I just have to look at this debate and roll my eyes. Gays asked for an endorsement for their lifestyle by asking that their unions be called marriages. The people of California just voted not to provide that endorsement. So what? It’s not that gays aren’t accepted, they just aren’t endorsed by the majority of the voters. People (not just gays) must get over the debilitating need to be loved by everybody else. Some people aren’t going to love you; the most anybody deserves (and can hope for) is acceptance. Again, gays are mostly accepted in this country. They just might not be endorsed.

    I don’t endorse Obama for president, but I will accept him. Do you see the difference?

    [If you didn’t live in the south, and weren’t black, and didn’t have to pay a poll tax, and weren’t being denied a job and an education and opportunity, would you also “roll your eyes” about all that civil rights nonsense in the 60s?]

  • walter

    And when I say that gays are MOSTLY accepted in this country: there is always a population that won’t accept you. Calling your union “marriage” isn’t going to change that. Nothing will.

  • http://www.enterprisesystemsbackup.com pdeguise

    It’s always tiring to see the use of “sexual preference”; the term started as a snide reference to the notion that those of us who aren’t heterosexual somehow “chose” to be that way. This in itself is a frequent cause or at least justification for discrimination.

    Personally I dislike the term “marriage” … it comes with all the baggage of the last several hundred years of discrimination and moralistic holier-than-thou attitudes espoused by so many churches around the world. I’m happy to let heterosexuals cling to marriage as a word for themselves (forgetting momentarily the history of European churches blessing same sex marriages up to the sixteenth century) so long as there’s a recognised, equal rights union.

    In Australia we have a radical ‘church’ that even most of the mainstream media considers to be a cult. Their members routinely participate in electoral activities, campaigning against greens, gays, just about anyone who doesn’t fit their take on morality. This is even more sickening given that Australia has mandatory voting requirements, but they can claim a religious exclusion from voting.

    This leads me to the most basic response I have to religious groups getting involved in campaigning for a restriction of rights: they either stay out of politics or have their tax-exempt status stripped from them. As an avowed atheist, I’m tired of the repeated way they claim exemptions to taxes, voting, participation where it suits them, biblical laws that no longer suit them, but still choose to interfere. Now that’s inequality.

  • walter

    @oomu:

    If gays want to unite and call it marriage, I don’t want to stop them. What the voters of California said was, “If gays want to unite, WE won’t call it marriage.” Anybody can live as man an wife (or wife and wife, or man and man) and call it anything they want. Why is it so important that everybody else calls it marriage?

    [The problem is that marriage isn’t a word in a dictionary we can all fight to define without consequences. It’s a legal concept that grants participants rights related to insurance, taxes, benefits, inheritance, visitation, and many other things most of us take for granted. Denying those civil rights on a religious whim to satiate one’s ideology is the problem. One can invent the idea of civil unions or some other legal, non-religious idea that substitutes for marriage, but the same gay-hating religious groups have worked to ensure that these rights don’t apply to anyone who isn’t “married.”

    See also DOMA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Marriage_Act ]

    @Joel:

    Straight people will always be the majority. If being gay is something that is controllable, then what in the future would change the population to make more than half gay? Even if something should happen, and the public wanted to stop calling a union between a man and a woman a marriage, what do I care? I don’t need my neighbors and countrymen to certify my family unit with a label.

  • tayls

    Your political rants are ridiculous. Far from forming thoughtful, thorough arguments, you spew propaganda for a cause that most people don’t agree with (according to their votes). You are just as guilty of hateful garbage as those you vehemently accuse. I mostly skim your political posts in the seemingly absurd hope that you will:
    1) form a good argument for your beliefs that might cause me to rethink some issues, or
    2) be made to realize by some commenter that you haven’t provided a satisfactory argument.

    BTW, I love reading your tech stuff.

    [Perhaps if you challenged yourself to actually read what I write, you could either agree or at at least offer a critical take on why you think I’m wrong, rather than just blowing smoke about stuff you didn’t bother to take the effort to examine. ]

  • theskeptic

    @pdeguise So – are you saying that any politically active community group should be stripped of tax exempt status? Or are you just against the religious ones?

  • gus2000

    If only the voters of Prop 2 knew just how gay the pigs and chickens are!

    I’m inclined to believe Daniel in that this was the last gasp of a dying conservative empire. The children watching this debacle will be able to vote in a decade, when they will give equal rights to everyone and wonder all the while what the fuss was about. I’m sure the notion of having a black President will be similarly normalized.

    It’s been shown that most voters stay with their party over time. Since young voters supported Democrats at a 2:1 rate, I see a 20-year stretch of liberal dominance that will undo all the damage wrought by our neocon counterparts. Hooray!

    Not so for my mother, who’s one of the few that still think “W” is the Greatest President Ever, and is virtually suicidal over the latest electoral tally. The liberals were going to Canada to escape Sarah Palin, but where does one find a refuge of radical conservatism and Christian fundamentalism? Italy? Vatican City?

  • gplawhorn

    So, money is why prop 8 passed. That must be why Obama won in California, too – McCain was a better candidate, but the dollars won out.

    [Money helped Prop 8, and then there was the lying part and appealing to people’s fear, hatred, and prejudice, and telling them they’d be burned forever and/or ostracized as social pariahs if they didn’t throw money behind it and vote for it.

    Oh, and yes, Obama raised money, too. ]

  • Christopher Holden

    “Queen Esther,” the biblical figure who ingratiated herself into power and enabled her people to slaughter their enemies…

    That’s not quite right. The king originally made a law allowing anyone in the realm to slaughter the Jews. That is state-sponsored genocide. Queen Esther, herself a captive, used her influence to save the jewish from complete destruction. See Esther 8:11. The king, who couldn’t reverse course allowed the jews to atleast defend themselves.

    [The only thing “not quite right” is that in the time of Esther, the Jews were a powerless minority, while today, the fundamentalists who portrayed Palin as Esther are the affluent power class. They do not face any attack, but they do relish in the idea of the Esther narrative: “In them the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including children and women, and to plunder their spoil.”]

  • Joe-Dokes

    Hey Dan,

    The REAL story, the story YOU missed is that prop 8 won because minorities voted FOR it. The same minorities who voted overwhelmingly for Barrack Obama, who hail the civil rights movement, who hang pictures of Caesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr. over the mantel, voted to deny Gays the right to marry.

    Please, don’t blame redneck whites for the passage of Prop 8.

    Regards

    Joe Dokes

  • The Mad Hatter

    That’s not quite right. The king originally made a law allowing anyone in the realm to slaughter the Jews. That is state-sponsored genocide.

    Something which has happened in the United States to, check out the article on Missouri Executive Order 44 which was issued October 27, 1838, and was in effect until June 25, 1976.

    I have to admit puzzlement as to why the Mormons have backed Proposition 8. By doing so they ended up associating with those very groups who have fought them for years. Quite frankly it doesn’t make any sense at all. While Mormons like many religious groups do not approve of homosexuality, this is no reason to join with those who have attack them on a regular basis.

  • steveO

    Rather than speak in rational tones you resort to name calling…it makes you look silly. Losing should make you better…not bitter.

    Interesting — you equate the welfare state with blacks and hispanics — racist?

    Facts are your idea that sexual preference is equal to race and gender doesn’t fly outside of San Francisco and West Hollywood.

    Take Prop 8 out of the 2008 general election and it passes with even higher margins. I highly doubt the gay vote would garner a majority with white voters if Obama isn’t on the ticket.

    I find it humorous that gay marriage supporters utilized liberal SF judges to further their cause rather than put up a proposition for the general public to vote. It worked for a few months.

    [No doubt a vote on the civil rights of blacks wouldn’t pass at a KKK convention either. That doesn’t speak to the injustice involved. It would similarly fail the Constitution test of equal protection under law.

    Also, judges don’t “further causes” they’re supposed to interpret the constitution. They can be wrong, but Prop 22 was clearly a case of bigoted efforts to deny constitutional rights. On the other hand, you have the Supreme Court making decisions such as inaugurating Bush by deciding a count of the people’s votes is “unconstitutional.”

    Your position is impossible to defend. You’re really just making yourself out to be irrational and petty. The people who voted for Prop 8 were either deceived by the premise of “protecting families” or were straight up bigots. It does not speak well of you and your level of sophistication to clarify in which pool you belong. ]

  • http://www.alexcurylo.com alexcurylo

    “Losing should make you better…not bitter.”

    Heh, yeah. My first reaction to news of the Obama win was “well at least all the mindlessly hate-spewing anti-Bush crowd will shut the hell up and get to work now!”

    Oddly enough, a couple days on the balance of the evidence so far seems to be that they’re just as sore winners as they were sore losers. Funny, that…

  • sparkplug

    Even though you have “issues” with the passage of Prop. 8 in California, how do you explain the passage of similar initiatives that prohibit same-sex marriages in Florida and Arizona?

    Florida is not a strongly conservative state, went for Obama, and passed by a greater (62%) margin than California.

    If you support same-sex marriages, do you also support someone having multiple wives or husbands (regardless of the mix)? My understanding is that having multiple wives is legal and a “civil right” in some countries (primarily Muslim) I believe.

    I find it mildly amusing that the Playboy Magazine mogul, Hugh Hefner, can not only live with three female partners, but makes money from a TV series (The Girls Next Door) about it. On the other hand, if a man in the US was married to and supporting three wives he would be subject to arrest! ??

    [Polygamy has nothing to do with homosexuality. One is, as you note, a cultural practice, the other is a recognized by modern science to be a gender identity.

    Religions are free to maintain centuries old ideas about how things work and apply those ideas in their own lives, but it is not appropriate for religions to force their ideas upon other people in a way that restricts their fundamental civil rights.

    This is not a complex idea. The straight majority is not harmed by gays being accorded the same protections under law for their relationships. Gays are hurt when they are told they can’t form legal relationships that provide them with equivalent rights as married couples.

    Your argument about other states passing the same type of law is somewhat breathtaking. Do you also think Jim Crow laws are okay as long as they are enacted in multiple states?

    In an effort to find common ground, let me say that I do support the idea of your being able to smoke whatever you’re smoking without fear of prosecution. I just disagree with your high as a kite ideas expressed above. ]

  • sparkplug

    “Polygamy has nothing to do with homosexuality.”

    In the debate regarding the definition of a legal marriage, it does. Gays would like the legal definition of MARRIAGE to include and allow it between individuals of the same sex.

    Polygamists would like the legal definition of marriage to include and allow it between more than one spouse.

    As you stated above regarding marriage: ” It’s a legal concept that grants participants rights related to insurance, taxes, benefits, inheritance, visitation, and many other things most of us take for granted. Denying those civil rights on a religious whim to satiate one’s ideology is the problem.”

    So why couldn’t polygamists make the same case, as you stated above, that they are being denied THEIR civil rights based on “religious whims.”

    [I already pointed out why in the response you edited up above in order to make this seem controversial and complicated. Polygamy is illegal behavior based on religious notions of a patriarchal society that was abusive to women (and through Abraham, the root of all major religions of the middle east); homosexuality is not illegal, is a minority group that has historically been persecuted by that same religious group that formerly practiced polygamy (and incest). ]

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  • http://www.myspace.com/theguywholovedhismac UbiquitousGeek

    Great article, Daniel. It does worry me to think of what the religious right might do now that their power has waned. I’m a secular humanist, but I listen to conservative talk radio a lot, just because it amuses me to hear how these people think (and I use the term loosely). Every day, the language they use gets more and more hateful and violent. Us Liberals are often labeled with terms such as evil, enemy, disease, parasite… It almost sounds like Hitler’s vilification of the Jews. What’s next? Kristallnacht? It scares me to think about how much of our airwaves are given to this kind of talk. WTAM 1100 in Cleveland, Ohio, a Liberal stronghold, has only one Liberal talk show host, a French man, who airs on Saturday afternoons for a few hours. During the work week, WTAM airs five different conservative talk shows a day, from 6 AM to around midnight, unless there’s a Browns, Cavs or Indians game. If you ask me, they are given way too much time to spread their ideology and hatred of all things liberal over the airwaves. I don’t have a problem with people talking about their ideology, but this divisive hate-speech needs to stop. I thought it would tone down after the election (and it has in some cases), but for the most part, it’s still alive and well. I can’t say I’ve ever heard this kind of talk on a left-leaning station. Now that I think about it, I’ve never really heard of a left-leaning station, aside from NPR and Air America, and you can only get Air America on satellite radio or over the internet. Whether it’s FM or AM, I hear a lot of right-wing mouthpieces. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, as evident by the election. I think there’s a clear and focused effort by the people who own and operate these frequencies, television included, to spread their own right-wing ideas to the masses. It’s almost impossible not to call it propaganda. Rush Limbaugh actually stands accused of receiving his talking points directly from the White House Press Secretary, which was made illegal in the U.S. following World War II and Hitler’s use of propaganda.

    There needs to be discussion about this.

  • Joel

    “Straight people will always be the majority.”. That may be true, but white folks will be a minority by 2042. Better just hope that no-one will discriminate against them.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/american-whites-will-be-minority-by-2042-895574.html

    ‘“Polygamy has nothing to do with homosexuality.” In the debate regarding the definition of a legal marriage, it does. Gays would like the legal definition of MARRIAGE to include and allow it between individuals of the same sex.’

    Since when…? Yet another strawman from the bigots. Its interesting how, when the bigots get desperate, the arguments get wilder…! (Anyhow, dealing with one partner is enough trouble…!)

  • tayls

    Perhaps if you challenged yourself to actua”lly read what I write, you could either agree or at at least offer a critical take on why you think I’m wrong, rather than just blowing smoke about stuff you didn’t bother to take the effort to examine.”

    Daniel,
    I used to read your political posts very carefully, as I do your tech stuff. Now, I don’t.

  • rwahrens

    Daniel,

    I admire your writing, tech or not.

    I would like to point out a fact that is left quite out of almost every argument on this subject.

    Our Constitution (and by extension, the state Constitutions too) is a blueprint for how our government shall be organized and operate. As such, it includes those powers it needs to so operate. It also, in the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments, delineates those rights of the people that are specifically protected from violations by those governments.

    The 14th Amendment specifically includes the States in those prohibitions against violating rights, and the 10th reserves all rights not so given to the governments “to the people”.

    As such, the Constitution is reserved as a LIMITATION on the power of the State and a PROTECTOR of the rights of the people.

    To use it as a method of discrimination is contrary not only to common sense and the spirit of those documents, but may well specifically violate those Amendments guaranteeing equality before the law, due process and, in the 14th, a specific prohibition against the States’ violation of any of those right guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

    Since Prop 8 violates the 14th Amendment, it is only a matter of time before it is overturned on that basis alone.

  • http://www.doorQ.com Jodyw1

    Hey Dan. My name is Jody and I publish DoorQ.Com, a website for Gay fans of SF / Fantasy / Horror and all the related goodness, including techie Mac stuff. I read your site from time to time and love what you right.

    I want to give you a big shout-out for bringing this issue before your audience. It’s rather nasty what’s gone on with 8 and no small irony that by turning out so many minority communities, communities still wrestling with homophobia, 8 won.

    At the same time though, as you’ve pointed out, the major funding for passage of the prop came from a coalition of the LDS, Catholic and non-denominational churches. Their tens of millions of dollars -removed- the right of gay people, of some of my friends, from being able to marry and has thrown the existing marriages of others up in the air.

    The fact is that Prop 8 removed a right from the California Constitution. The Equal Protection language in the State constitution affirmed gay people’s equality before civil law. The backers of 8 are trying to get that removed, to carve out an exception for gay people.

    When you take a look at their efforts nation wide you realize that these groups aren’t just content to “protect” marriage … a spurious line of reasoning so nakedly stupid even Goofy can grok that.. but to remove even marriage-like benefits from gays. This is what happened in Florida, where they struck down domestic partnership and related agreements. Considering these groups have tried to do the same thing in California in the past, I don’t think they’re done.

    But then the Gay community isn’t done either. The Prop 8 language will most likely be ruled unconstitutional, being found to be more than a simple modification of the California Constitution but an out-right revision, something that can’t be done by a simple resolution. I’m ecouraged.

    I’m also encouraged by sites like yours that have no need to cover the issue but do so anyway. Our world isn’t just gadgets, gears and genre. We enjoy those things in the context of a larger, political world. Thanks for taking the time to make your audience think about this stuff too.

  • walter

    @rwahrens:

    I find it ironic that people on the left vote for candidates like Barack Obama who talk about expanded social programs such as tax credits built on the backs of the wealthy and government-supplied medical insurance attempt to invoke a limited-government argument to shout against the passing of Prop. 8. I’ve even seen lefties on this web site (opponents of Prop. 8 and supporters of Barack Obama) that talk about broadband internet access as a right… Such things only mean greater government involvement. How can the desire to keep government out of our lives be resolved with the desire to get government more involved?

    Of course, it isn’t the government that passed the proposition, it was the people. And the amendment seeks to tie the hands of government officials who would award marriage certificates for homosexuals. This proposition is the action of the people to limit the power of the state. That, by the way, was the whole point of making the Constitution (or, in this case, the California constitution) amendable.

  • rwahrens

    And I hate the way folks that claim to want a limited scope of government twist the issues to make it SEEM that a denial of rights isn’t.

    Like it or not, you are using a document that guarantees the rights of the people to discriminate against a small group of those people. There is no way you can twist the facts to escape that reality. How is that denial of rights “keeping the government out of our lives”? Whenever the government denies you a right, it is interfering in your life!

    Please tell me – how is the ability of two people of the same sex to get married ever going to affect your marriage to a member of the opposite sex? Does that ability diminish yours? If so, how? Does it give them the ability to stop your marriage? Does it make the love and affection you have for your spouse less? Or your spouse’s affection for you less?

    The ability of same sex couples to obtain a marriage license from the State and be married in a civil ceremony in no way affects the ability of your church to marry you, or to deny the marriage of a same sex couple. The State cannot force a church to do anything that is against it’s religious doctrine, just as it cannot stop that church from denying couples the right to divorce in the eyes of that church.

    Now, if you want to “protect” marriage”, then perhaps divorce should be in your sights too!

  • walter

    I am opposed to divorce. At least the no-fault divorces that run rampant these days. Obviously, in cases of infidelity or abuse, divorce is acceptable. But as somebody who has observed the messy aftermath of divorces in various circumstances, I know that no-fault divorce is a serious problem. Marriage is not something to be entered into lightly, but it should be abandoned with even more caution and thought. No-fault divorces demean the institution and provide people with a mindset that makes it all too easy to abandon a relationship at the slightest hint of trouble. Just look at the divorce rate in Hollywood!

    I am not philosophically opposed to the concept of members of the same sex sharing lives together. I’m not opposed to partners sharing benefits just as married couples do. In fact, I’m only really opposed to same-sex marriage because I think a large number of such marriages (dare I say a majority?) will never produce children. However, I have heard it claimed that every country in Europe that has adopted same-sex marriage has seen an overall decline in marriage rates. While I can’t back this up, if true, it is certainly disconcerting.

    For the record, I also think marriage between a man and a woman is foolish if there is no intent to raise a family. What is the point of a ceremony, some rings and a government-issued paper to declare love and devotion? Marriage is supposed to foster the production of families and provide a stable environment for rearing children. You don’t need the government to certify your love for another person.

    I don’t pretend that marriages are living up to their intent even today, without universally-recognized gay marriage. But that doesn’t change the intent. Marriage should be restored to its original purpose, not accepted as it is today as a convenient way to say, “I love you,” while sharing benefits and (in theory) a tax break.

    The only issue here is that Californians don’t want to call gay unions “marriages.” I don’t think many people are opposed to the idea of a civil union between gays that grant the members the same privileges as a straight married couple. But for most people (who are still religious, mind you), the word “marriage” carries religious undertones and the suggestion of a union before God between a man and a woman. They aren’t prepared to share that name with gay unions. There is nothing wrong with that; nor is there anything bigoted about it. Bring forward a California measure to grant “civil unions” that offer the exact same benefits as marriage to gays in California, and I’ll bet it passes.

    Daniel brings forward the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which I’ll point out was signed into law by Bill Clinton, not a right-winger. While that act denies gay unions the same privileges as marriages, that is a federal issue that has nothing to do with the passing of Proposition 8. Shooting down Prop. 8 would not overturn the DOMA. It wouldn’t grant gays any more rights than they have now.

    The bottom line is that gays want more than acceptance; they want to be viewed as no different. But there is something inherently different in a same-sex marriage. While people may come to accept that (most already do), they won’t view the union in the same way. Nor should they. “Different” doesn’t mean “bad”; nor do most people equate “different” with “bad”. It’s just different. Pretending it’s the same is naive and pointless. The problem is that people today don’t seem able to distinguish between “equal” and “same”.

    I will wage my massive fortune (since I’m obviously a caviar-eating white guy) that, even if civil unions were federally recognized as the same thing as marriage except for the name, gays would still push to call it marriage. But even calling the union by the same name won’t make people think of it the same way.

    The solution is actually simple. The government should get out of the marriage business altogether. Let everybody, gays and straights alike, get civil unions with certain legal protections. No more government marriage certificates. Leave the concept of “marriage” to the churches, where it has long resided. Afford no legal privilege to “marriage” and let churches decide when to grant marriages. Then gays get equal footing, and people can retain their religious heritage.

  • rwahrens

    walter, you have a twisted sense of what marriage is traditionally all about.

    People get married because they love each other, they marry because they want a partner that can stabilize their lives, or they want to pool resources and get a better life. Kids are simply a consequence of sex, and always have been! Now that we can employ condoms and other contraceptives, children are not an inevitable reason for marriage.

    Lots of people get married for reasons other than starting a family. I know several couples that have never had kids and have always made it plain that they didn’t. But why would those folks NOT get married and enjoy the legal rights and benefits of marriage? The Federal Government recognizes over 1100 different ways that the Feds allow marriage to benefit a couple!

    So please get a grip, there is no “traditional” “intent” for marriage. The Romans routinely married gays, that is a documented fact. It is just the twisted hatred of gays promulgated by the bible that has contaminated today’s society. In past eras before christianity, gays were accepted with no issues in many societies.

    I actually agree with you that the government should get out of the wedding business. They should do like governments in Europe do, issue licenses and perform civil ceremonies. Yes, they call it marriage, but so what? Religious people go to church and get a religious ceremony, churches in Germany, for instance, cannot perform a civil ceremony that is legal like the State can, so people get TWO ceremonies, one religious, one civil.

    I like that idea.

    But the basis of your argument is conflating that civil marriage with the religious one. The State cannot perform a religious ceremony, so what is the problem? If a gay couple gets married at the courthouse, and YOU get married at the church, you are free to consider them NOT married in your religious context, but of course, you would be forced to accept the civil rights conferred on them legally.

    Is THAT your problem?

  • walter

    @rwahrens

    If the traditional concept of marriage is independent of child production, why do the major traditional religions regard sex as immoral outside of marriage? The fact is that traditional marriage, which has long been established in a religious context, was designed to sanctify the family unit. If religious marriages were independent of child rearing, the act of producing children wouldn’t be frowned upon outside of marriage.

    As for the Romans: they also held slaves and forced people to fight to the death in public spectacle.

  • rwahrens

    walter, condemnation by association is a logical fallacy, whether you are using it against people or issues! The mere fact that the Roman culture allowed gay marriage gives the lie to your claim that marriage is traditionally for procreation!

    The fact is that regardless of what RELIGION says is traditional to that particular religion, individuals often do things for their own reasons, whatever their priest, pastor or cleric may say. Your contention that marriage is only for procreation is ridiculous, or we would require a fertility test before allowing a marriage license!

    Bottom line, if you don’t like gay marriage, restrict yourself to marrying the opposite sex. Otherwise, what other people do is none of your business, nor is it the right of your church to force the rest of us to adhere to your view of the world.

  • http://www.alexcurylo.com alexcurylo

    @rwahrens:

    “Your contention that marriage is only for procreation is ridiculous, or we would require a fertility test before allowing a marriage license!”

    Um, well, actually, up until a few decades ago the only easily acceptable grounds for annulment in the Catholic Church were infertility and proof of lack of intent to raise children. Much more easily acceptable than mere, say, domestic abuse. So Walter’s on impeccably sound ground there, actually.

    “The mere fact that the Roman culture allowed gay marriage”

    Well, no, not really. Roman culture was libertarian enough not to interfere at all with whatever citizens wanted to call marriage … up until the Diocletian Acts, which outlawed homosexual unions as part of a general crackdown on non-mainstream religious practices. So your statement is correct only insofar as for a while it was not actually forbidden. I understand that as regards homosexual tolerance general Roman culture was not unlike prison culture today, where the social acceptability of the action depended upon one’s role in the process, to put it delicately.

    “Bottom line, if you don’t like gay marriage, restrict yourself to marrying the opposite sex. Otherwise, what other people do is none of your business, nor is it the right of your church to force the rest of us to adhere to your view of the world.”

    Clap, clap, very noble sounding. However, you don’t really believe those sentiments. If you claim you do, let us apply the same logic to:

    1) Incestuous marriages. If siblings love each other — let’s make it two siblings of the same sex, just to avoid procreative considerations — do you agree that “if you don’t like incestuous marriage, restrict yourself to marrying people not your relatives, blahblahblah?”

    2) Polygamous marriages. These have an awful lot more historical and cultural relevance — indeed, in Canada we actually recognize polygamous marriages performed in nations that practice it today — than gay marriage does, by any measure. You willing to give American Muslims, just to pick one, the same human rights to marry whom they choose as Saudi Arabian Muslims do? Oh, wait, what, you’re not? So you claim it is your right “to force the rest of us to adhere to your view of the world” then?

    3) Age limits. I’m given to understand (although I’m really not that interested in finding out exactly) that NAMBLA, for instance, advocates what are essentially gaily married relationships between adults and boys under what is currently the age of consent, to put it delicately. Would you then argue that “if you don’t like underage marriage, restrict yourself to marrying 18 year olds then?” And again, child betrothal has a much richer historical tradition than gay marriage, even if actual consummation is generally looked at askance.

    No, if you’re going to claim that the sex of a single partner is nobody’s business but your own, you have to explain why the number of partners, the age of the partner(s), and the consanguinity of the partner(s) are anybody’s business but the people who have different ideas on all those fronts than the law has as well. Can you?

  • rwahrens

    First, your argument about the Catholic Church is just about that, the RCC. It has no relavence as to the “traditions”of others, just itself, as I noted. so much for single source traditions. This is a multi cultural country, or is now.

    Your detailed argument about the Romans says really, nothing. Just that eventually, the Roman culture changed. I guess they wanted a new – ahem – tradition.

    “However, you don’t really believe those sentiments.”

    Don’t put words in my mouth.

    “If you claim you do, let us apply the same logic to:”

    Ah, the old slippery slope argument!! Logic, wherefore art thou!

    None of these has squat to do with my argument. We were talking about marriage, remember? That subject is unrelated to sexual perversions that are clinical in nature. Gender identity is natural, normal, and homosexuality is known in nature. The forms of sexual perversion you mention are not genetically based.

    “No, if you’re going to claim that the sex of a single partner is nobody’s business but your own, you have to explain why the number of partners, the age of the partner(s), and the consanguinity of the partner(s) are anybody’s business but the people who have different ideas on all those fronts than the law has as well. ”

    BS. Again, none of those things are related to the issue of marriage, which is ALWAYS between adults, and has always been, unless you are a religious nutcase that belongs to outlawed offshoots of the Mormon church. Sorry to spoil your little straw man.

    “If a gay couple gets married at the courthouse, and YOU get married at the church, you are free to consider them NOT married in your religious context, but of course, you would be forced to accept the civil rights conferred on them legally.

    Is THAT your problem?”

    Walter still hasn’t answered this question, is it YOUR problem?

  • rwahrens

    Oh, and as to your little straw man regarding the issue of multi-partner marriages from other cultures – I hate to tell you, but US law is bound to accept such marriages if they are legal in the country where they were performed.

    And as for that, I truly have no issue with multi-partner marriages, IF they are entered into between consenting ADULTS, where there is NO coercion, and those partners are equal in their abilities to own property, control their activities, and remove themselves from that marriage on a legally equal basis if they so desire.

    The problem with “traditional” polygamy is that in most cases we are popularly aware of, they were not equal in nature, but were usually used as a social method of controlling women and preventing them from achieving any form of equality. Thus, those forms do not fit in with the American sense of fairness as understood today. In that sense, I agree, polygamy is not on my list of likely forms of marriage that are going to be acceptable in the near term future in this country.

    Again, slippery slope on your part, as the issue of numbers is not on the agenda here, just as you way of scaring the conservative base into thinking that gays want to destroy American culture.

  • http://www.alexcurylo.com alexcurylo

    “First, your argument about the Catholic Church is just about that, the RCC.”

    Which is the root for all Christian denominations represented in the country, and is the root for all legal marital prohibitions, not just gay marriage. If traditions were truly multicultural, then polygamy would be legal, as it has been in some 85% of cultures throughout history and still is in large bits of the world today, yes?

    “Ah, the old slippery slope argument!! Logic, wherefore art thou!”

    Just calling a slippery slope argument fallacious does not make it so. Indeed, this is an absolutely perfect example of how a slippery slope argument is *not* fallacious — as up here Charter challenges have indeed been brought against both polygamy prohibitions and age restrictions that appear in our Criminal Code using the legalization of gay marriage as their gravamen. That, I submit, is as conclusive a real world example of non-fallaciousness of a slippery slope argument as could be imagined, yes?

    “BS. Again, none of those things are related to the issue of marriage, which is ALWAYS between adults, and has always been, unless you are a religious nutcase that belongs to outlawed offshoots of the Mormon church. Sorry to spoil your little straw man.”

    Mmmm … methinks you really, seriously, have to get a little more grounding in reality before you open your mouth again. Let us take the example of the Muslim world. I trust even you are aware that polygamy is now and always has been conventional with Muslims. However, it appears you are not aware that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) contracted marriage with Aisha when she was six years old and consummated when she was nine, as attetested in Shahih Bukhari Volume 7 Book 62 with narration by Aisha and Ursa. So my example is not a straw man, and your allegations are completely wrong. Unless you think that that the billion and a half or so people who accept the literal truth of the Qu’ran are “outlawed offshoots of the Mormon church”, which would be a very novel interpretation indeed on your part.

    (And, as an aside, Islamic scholarship also accepts several practices which fall under incest prohibitions in Christian nations … so we don’t actually need any examples other than Islam to demonstrate all three of my points.)

    “Again, slippery slope on your part, as the issue of numbers is not on the agenda here, just as you way of scaring the conservative base into thinking that gays want to destroy American culture.”

    As I point out above, that question is not hypothetical in the slightest. I’m relating that the factual consequences of gay marriage legalization of here have included Charter challenges against polygamy up here using it as a basis. If you find truthful statements about logical consequences “scary” … then it would seem that you are proving my point here quite nicely. Thanks!

  • beautox

    Democracy means accepting the vote even if you don’t like it. I wish you would stick to technical things. The pompous attitude you often display when writing about politics makes me sick. It’s typical of those on the left to not realize that intelligent people can disagree about things, without one side being “wrong”

    [So are you arguing for Jim Crow laws? Did you ever wonder why we have two houses of congress? A fixed two party system? An electoral college? A judicial system with the power to check the legislature? Or do you just float through life like Sarah Palin, never wondering about anything, but fully confident in the dogma you’ve been force fed by the small minded, ignorant bigots you like?

    The reason why I point out why one side is wrong is invariably because one side is wrong, as you are in this case. ]