10.25.2008

Prop 8 - What Should I Be Considering?

I am writing this as Erin (and not Joy - not that she disagrees with me, just that she didn't write this, I did).

I am sure you have been thinking a lot about what to vote for on Prop 8. Why are you voting the way you are?

  • May we dialogue with civility?
  • What do YOU THINK about Prop 8?
  • Is Yes on Prop 8 fair or not (and if so, based on what reasoning?)

I know this is an emotional and divisive issue for many and at the risk of being written off immediately due to my profession (licensed pastor), this isn't about attacking the homosexual lifestyle. Anyone who really understands the teachings of the Gospel, knows that hating people is not part of it. The love of God and neighbor is the greatest commandment - this includes people from all walks of life, religion, socio - economic backgrounds and sexual preferences.

I honestly haven't looked at much of the material out there on this issue... I just know the basics and I wanted to share my thoughts as I long to hear yours. I am not arguing for people to change their lifestyle here, I am simply questioning the deconstruction of a traditional marriage definition in the California State Constitution to allow for same sex marriages.

I also understand that this is a deeply emotional issue, and for some are who have placed hopes in being viewed by society as "legalized couples" - this is paramount on their list of "social injustices". Some well-meaning heterosexual people out there maybe even think it "would be the right thing to do" to let the State of California allow the changes to the definition of marriage to include same-sex (meaning No on 8). The tv ads have been pretty good, like most ads, tugging at the emotions, inciting fear or anger...

...but what should I be considering here?

Here is a quote off the NO on Prop 8 website, whose banner reads "Unfair. Wrong." - how so?

“Proposition 8… would eliminate the fundamental right to same-sex marriage. The very act of denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marrytraditionally the highest legal and societal recognition of a loving commitment – by definition relegates them and their relationship to second class status.”
- Los Angeles Times Editorial, August 8, 2008


Please, bear with me, this sounds persuasive but is the logic behind it?

TWO QUESTIONS:

Question on "fundamental right"
and "right to marry"
Where does that fundamental right come from? A group of lawmakers, scientists, the majority of a society?
To those lobbying for it? Can someone tell me what we all should be fundamentally basing this decision on - it sounds like some sort of an absolute truth or something.

Question on "traditionally"
and "same sex marriage"
How ironic that he is using tradition as a logical basis for establishing recognition among society. What is the traditional definition of marriage ... is same-sex part of that vocabulary, practice and do we have good historical, biological and religous evidence to shape that tradition (I think so generally speaking- see below).

TWO THOUGHTS:

Some thoughts on "fundamental rights" and "right to marry":
This quote from the LA Times presupposes that we all know what FUNDAMENTAL VALUE is being talked about here and WHO decides what is FUNDAMENTAL. In other words, the writer is assuming we all know as a society the moral or ethical foundation of truth we can all go back to and agree upon. Or does he?

WHO determines what is FUNDAMENTAL? Well, without making this a ten page paper, I would say it is hard to have a FUNDAMENTAL (an absolute truth we can all hang our hats on) without a transcendent being (i.e. God. And my biased fundamental) providing the basis for it. Love, justice, beauty, sexuality - think about it, where does those defintions come from originally - chemicals firing in an evolutionary morass at the beginning of time?. Without God (or a god) in ones worldview, one has to have another FUNDAMENTAL to begin with that comes from OUTSIDE oneself.

Does government or society determine the type of FUNDAMENTALS the writer is talking about (there are some good examples but also really bad ones... wait, did I just make a moral judgement on what is good and bad? Think Naziism, Stalinism, Rwandan genocide. Why does the rest of humanity condemn such atrocity)? Sounds good but, take it one step further, is there something beyond society because maybe it TRANSCENDS society? If you say SOCIETY determines that FUNDAMENTAL (such as values like... love your neighbor, same-sex marriage or rape is wrong), then WHICH SOCIETY? And WHO determines that?

Do we notice the slippery slope? I understand not everyone is a believer in God of some kind, let alone a Christian, but to hear these arguments that say No to Prop 8 using ethical language (like fundamental right) begs me to challenge the basis for it. There is probably a lot more to say here but I will leave this here for now (see RZIM, Ravi Zacharias for more on this line of reasoning).

Some thoughts on "traditionally" and "same-sex marriage":
I think it makes sense to retain the terminology of "civil union" for those who want to make a commitment to live a homosexual lifestyle together with a partner but to change the definition of marriage is where the line must be drawn. (Some of these are from Rick Warren's News & Views)
  1. Why are we going to change the definition for marriage for 2% of the population in North America?
  2. Why are we going to change the definition of marriage when all major religions though out history have stated it was between a man and a woman?
  3. Why is there a need to change it now after 5000 years of human existence?
  4. How would humanity have multiplied to the 6 billion people on earth today without the understanding that marriage was between a man and a woman?

My point is this (all-caps below for emphasis not anger):

  • SAME-SEX MARRIAGE is NOT A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT that is being opposed. It is an OPINION THAT WANTS TO CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE that is being opposed IN THE FACE of CONTRARY FUNDAMENTAL EVIDENCE (YES on 8).

  • IT (Yes on 8) IS NOT UNFAIR because FAIR would IMPLY AN INJUSTICE based on a FUNDAMENTAL DEFINITION of what marriage is SUPPOSED TO BE.

  • SAYING (No on 8), IS CHANGING THE FUNDAMENTAL DEFINITION OF A HISTORICAL, BIOLOGICAL and RELIGOUS TRADITION... A LEGAL and/or RELIGOUS COMMITMENT BETWEEN A MAN AND WOMAN.

  • I AM VOTING YES on 8

What does this mean for how I treat my family, friends and neighbors that are homosexual?
  • I lovingly disagree with changing the definition of marriage but I still love my family, friends and neighbors.
  • If they desire to make a lifelong commitment to a same sex partner at a civil union - I would not oppose that even though I would disagree with the lifestyle choice (I disagree with other lifestyle choices like not exercising or spending over $20 on a haircut).
  • If they ever want to talk about it personally with me, I would love that.
  • I still consider anyone gay, straight, bi, trans, "fill in the blank" inherently valuable to God, deeply loved by Him and will treat them with dignity, respect and love as I believe Jesus would.

This is not a term paper or a philosophy test so I have no illusion of being smart or that I have it all figured out. I am sure there are some significant holes in my thinking. Help me understand your perception.

Please share with me what you think and why you plan on voting the way you are.

Thanks for your consideration.

More beautiful and heart warming pictures of Autumn will return shortly.

14 comments:

Tom said...

Erin -

Thanks for your call for differing opinions on this issue.

We can begin with a post I made on my blog that read thus:

I was married last Monday. In a small, private ceremony, my beloved and I stood with a few family members, looked into each other’s eyes and promised to love each other, to look out for each other’s best interests, and to care for and support each other for the rest of our days, no matter what obstacles life puts in our path.

We want this marriage to last a lifetime. But we are afraid if too many Californians listen to lies and fear-mongering and vote “yes” on Proposition 8, our marriage might last only 23 days.

What can I say to convince you to defeat this perhaps well-intentioned but profoundly misguided effort to eliminate the right of couples such as my partner and I to marry? I know that for many of you, there is nothing I can say. But I will try anyway.

Do you worry your church will be forced to marry same-sex couples?

It won’t. The Supreme Court decision that began this era of marriage equality said exactly the opposite: “no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs."

Are you concerned about what children may be taught in school about sexuality?

The only thing mandated by the state is that children be taught “the legal and financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.” For parenthood, you will have to discuss sex at some point. But the legal and financial aspects of civil marriage? No need at all to discuss sex or sexuality to teach those lessons.

Worried about changing the definition of the word “marriage”?

I’m sorry, but we need to use that word, too. Domestic partnerships are important, but you know as well as we there’s something profound about the relationship to which we give the name “marriage.” It’s special to us, too. If you can allow Britney Spears’ 55-hour Vegas vindaloo to be called a “marriage,” surely you can allow my rather mundane (however extraordinary it is to me) example of mutual affection and caring to be called one as well.

Are you worried about children? How they “deserve to be raised by both a mother and a father?”

What if, hypothetically, I conceded that was the case? How does denying marriage equality do anything to further that goal? Does anyone seriously believe if Proposition 8 passes that gay people are suddenly going to look for opposite sex partners and start having children?

Of course not. How, then, does my marriage (to a delightful, loving man who is as interested in my well-being and happiness as I am in his) somehow translate into harm for more traditional families?

Gay people aren't going away, even if one of our rights might be.

We didn’t stop being gay when we were teased or abused on the playground because of who we are. We didn’t stop being gay when our parents disowned us because of who we are. Or when we were fired from our jobs or evicted from our homes because of it. When we could be arrested and jailed because of it.

Or beaten, tied to a fence and left to die.

If we didn't give up being queer after enduring all we have -- do people imagine we will forsake our identities because too many Californians refuse to recognize that our civil, legal arrangements with each other – our paperwork – deserve to be equal to yours?

The Yes on 8 campaign has millions more than those fighting for my rights have. The LDS church alone has raised 40% of the other side’s war chest, already has a very large and effective army in place, and is recruiting more volunteers from out-of-state to fight against equality. The campaign is allying themselves with other well-organized churches. They fill the airwaves with lies and appeals to base and groundless fears. To be honest, I tremble at the thought of them.

But I stand my ground. Because I stand on truth. I stand on the Constitution. All are to receive equal treatment under the law.

Unfortunately, many voters disagree with me. Proposition 8 may pass, and my marriage (at least the paperwork) could ultimately be “valid or recognized” for a mere three weeks and two days.

We must – all fair-minded Californians must, no matter how we feel about same-sex marriage – not vote to eliminate anyone else’s fundamental rights. It’s unfair, unnecessary and wrong.

Those of us who are closer to the end of our lives than the beginning may not, as Dr. King said, get to the mountaintop ourselves. But we can all take a giant step toward the promised land of equality for all by voting “No” on Proposition 8.

Thomas Family said...

Erin,
Beautifully broken down points about Prop 8! This is something I plan to share with many friends who are on the fence about how they should vote and maintain their moral stance.
And yes, we are looking forward to more heart warming pictures of Autumn soon!

emily said...

Children have a right to a mom and a dad. The state of California allowing same-gender marriage may seem progressive to some– –but what it says to me is that the state of California sanctions a relationship that does not best serve children.

While no heterosexual parents are perfect, and some situations are down right abusive and traumatic, the response is not to eliminate a child’s right to a mom and a dad. The response is to better educate, better encourage, better help parents be better.

While a lesbian couple or a gay couple may provide a stable home, love, and support to a child. By definition, a same-gender marriage cannot provide them a mom and a dad. Every child has the right to a mom and a dad.

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/feb/06021601.html

Society should sacrifice for the health and well being of its children.

This is why I am voting “yes” on prop 8 (on my absentee ballot).

http://prop8discussion.wordpress.com/category/legislation-and-social-issues/

yes on prop 8!

Tom said...

Emily -

Let's say you're right, and that children DO have the right to a mom and dad.

How does denying marriage equality do anything to further the goal of more children growing up in families with both mom and dad at home?

(Also -- do children have the right to one parent being a full-time parent?)

mamajoyCarol said...

Erin, I was looking for the percentage of gays in our society. 2% sounds right. I completely agree with your arguments. It does seem foolish to me to redefine marriage when the Domestic Partners Act has given same sex couples rights that they'd been hoping for already.

Suzie said...

This was great to read Erin! I would be voting yes on prop. 8 as well, if I still lived in CA! So far this is not an issue in GA! God bless!

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for writing this. I have been struggling with this myself. I like your points about who determines fundamental right and wrong, and the slippery slope. I do not see it as an equality issue... it is a definition issue.

Denise said...

Kerr - Great blog entry. This has been a discussion with some people I know out here in NC, as well. Rather than type a thesis, I'll add some links that discuss the social effects of gay "marriage" (like a rise in out-of-wedlock births and the health and morality of the society). They are pretty long articles and supply valid concerns and logical points. That being said, it is a bit disheartening that all these articles need to be written at all. The more society attempts to move away from God and what He has laid out in His Word for us as to how a healthy and prosperous nation should operate, the more this nation will fade from what its glorious purpose is. I encourage all CA voters to vote Yes on 8.
http://www.massresistance.org/docs/marriage/effects_of_ssm.html

http://www.robgagnon.net/homoPresbyTodayArticle.htm

http://hudson.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publication_details&id=3427

Auntie Laney said...

Hi Erin,

I am concerned that others may have come to the same decision as you and hope that you will continue to reflect on the impact this has on others. I love you and want you to know how I feel about this.

I am speaking as a married(for 40 years), mother of 3, Christian heterosexual woman. I fear that many of my demographic feel that they have an ownership of or entitlement to marriage.

What makes heterosexuals entitled to this right and other American citizens not? If we are all Americans we are supposed to share in equal rights.

Why wasn't it right for Black Americans to have to drink out of a separate drinking fountain? They could still get water.

Why are we afraid to accept each other as equals under the law? Don't all citizens have the right to be married if they wish to......just as we learned to share the drinking fountain when any of us thirst for water?

Please vote No on Proposition 8.

Erin and Joy said...

Thanks Laney for your input. I love you as well and as I am sure Alison has shared with you, I don't have a problem having another proposal (not Prop 8) to look at granting things like hospital access to a loved one between homosexual partners, financial privileges, etc. In response to your race comment, this is not like the racial issues whereby HUMAN rights of EQUALITY (i.e. everyone is worthy of dignity and respect) were at stake but this Prop is trying to do REDEFINE MARRIAGE. I see the No on Prop 8 logic inconsistent when I hear things like "unjust, unfair, wrong" because it presupposes there is some innate right being wronged - if so, based on what moral foundation? I am in complete agreement that laws should protect people as equals under the law. Homosexuals are protected as heterosexuals are - but it is the desire to receive the benefits of marital status that are desired. The route that is desired is changing the definition. If this redefintion were granted on the grounds you just made, how would we NOT give this same definition to someone who wants to marry a family member, a child, an animal? Where does one draw the common sense of justice from if you rewrite marriage because 2% of the population wants it? Offer another proposal to get the types of privileges that are being sought but not on 8 - vote Yes on 8.

Don said...

Within California, the "Equal Rights" (and responsibilities) for Civil Union couples was provided for by legislation passed in 2003 and effective, January 1, 2005. Gay couples who registered on or after that date have all equal rights afforded registered married heterosexual couples. Property laws, inheritance, right to adopt the other partner's children are all granted. Their is no "second class" distinction. Because Federal law preempts state law on Federal Benefits for married couples; no matter which way you vote, you cannot force the Federal government to provide social security or other benefits because Federal law has already defined marriage as a heterosexual union.
Each state must pass their own laws to recognize the civil union laws and marriage laws of the other states. This means a California civil union, or gay "Marriage" if the statute is changed may not necessarily be recognized outside of California if the couple moves to another state (other than Vermont or Mass., I believe currently).

My whole point is to counter the current "equal rights" issue that is put out there in "No on 8" advertising. That tag should be reserved for a Federal Constitutional Amendment. Not the state.

Of course, like most issues, we never get all the facts, we get the hype and emotional tag phrases.

If it came to a National Referendum on recognition of Civil Unions which provided equal rights under Federal Law (and equal responsibilities) I would not have a problem in supporting it as long as it left the current definition of marriage in place.

My 2 cents.

Tom said...

Don -

I agree with you. If we could get government out of the marriage business entirely, that would be perfect.

Until then, though, I hope that a majority of Californians will vote to keep CIVIL "marriage" legal, until such day as we can separate religious marriage from civil unions.

That means "No" on 8. Please. I know it feels like this is tied up with many people's feelings about God, but it's really just about civil rights. Please don't treat people differently under the law.

Thank you.

Erin and Joy said...

Tom - your worldview informs how you will vote... as hard as it is to take a transcendent moral law giver out of the discussion with the state, where do fundamental rights come from? Those rights are based on something bigger than the state. If one is an atheist, it makes sense to relativize ethics since there is no moral lawgiver to based morality on... its merely opinions and flavors. This does not mean we should live in a theocracy but it does mean there are certain non negotiable rights that a free society should retain. One's worldview informs your views on everything from human dignity, purpose in life, ethics, everything that is what the United States is founded upon... the beautiful thing about this country it allows freedom to disagree and let those ideas battle it out in the marketplace of ideas. This is a great discussion, I am just surprised more people don't realize that if you start redefining moral definitions like marriage, it sets a precedent to keep changing things how you want... thanks for your comments Tom.

Tom said...

Fundamental rights come from the Constitution -- the document that started this country, this community we share.

As a community, we establish laws and codes of behavior which we expect our fellow citizens to follow. Many of those laws are based on biblical prohibitions -- thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal. Most are not -- simply because the Bible could not predict the transformation of societies, cultures and technologies.

We have determined, as a society, that one set of religious beliefs is not allowed to trump another set of religious beliefs. This only makes sense, as there would be chaos in the courts with opposing parties screaming that "God is on my side!" "No! God is on MY side!"

Because of this, our laws must be based on rationality. (To as great a degree as possible.) And there is simply no rational reason to deny marriage equality. Ultimately, all the Yes on 8 arguments come down to morality and appeals to tradition.

We have redefined "moral definitions like marriage" more than once. Why not this time? (And you can't use an appeal to God or morality in your argument,since that wouldn't fly in a court of law.)