Thursday, March 05, 2009

Marriage And Civil Rights

History of Same-Sex Marriage Law in California
In 2000, 61% of California voters approved a ballot measure, Proposition 22, that said "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California." From February 12 to March 11, under the direction of Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, officials of the City and County of San Francisco issued marriage licenses to approximately 4,000 same-sex couples, in apparent defiance of state law.

The California Assembly voted on September 6, 2005 to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, making the state's legislature the first in the nation to deliberately approve same-sex marriages. However, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed this bill on September 29, 2005 and again vetoed another similar bill approving same-sex marriage in October 14, 2007.

May 16, 2008 the California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage and Proposition 22 with a 4-3 ruling declaring that the state Constitution protects a fundamental "right to marry" that extends equally to same-sex couples.

Proposition 8 was a California ballot proposition passed in the November 4, 2008, general election. It changed the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples. The measure added a new section (7.5) to Article I, which reads: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." The proposition did not affect domestic partnerships in California.

Today in California the Supreme Court of California is hearing arguments regarding Proposition 8. The court plans to consider the following issues: "(1) Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution? (2) Does Proposition 8 violate the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution? (3) If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?"

Marriage And Civil Rights
Those against traditional marriage and against Proposition 8 argue that the issue of same-sex marriage is the "civil rights issue of our time." However, the issue of declaring same-sex couples married has nothing to do with preserving civil rights at all. Instead, the approval of same-sex legislation would prove to take away the rights of children, citizens, and institutions which support traditional marriage.

First, no one who supports traditional marriage is for limiting the rights of same-sex couples to live together. Civil unions for same-sex couples are already recognized across the country. So-called "domestic partners" are entitled to all the tax, insurance, medical, banking and inheritance benefits that any traditionally married person is entitled too already. Knowing this, one wonders why the same-sex marriage community is still pushing. Somehow, this is supposed to be a civil rights issue, but same-sex couples already have all the same civil rights that "married" couples have.

I imagine the same-sex marriage proponents wonder why traditionalist bother reserving the declaration of "marriage" only for heterosexual couples. The reason why supporters of traditional marriage want to preserve the title for heterosexual couples only is because marriage is a an act of government. Government allows private institutions like churches to marry people. The fear is that if same-sex marriage is approved then churches may not be allowed to marry heterosexual couples if they do not also marry same-sex couples. You think that is crazy talk? Well the same issues are going on with medical schools, hospitals, doctors and pharmacists who want to assists with and/or deliver babies but do not want to teach, offer or assist with abortions.

Another reason why traditionalists oppose same-sex marriage is because state governments determine school curriculum. Therefore it is likely that same-sex marriage would be taught as equal with traditional marriage. That would constitute a huge culture change in American, the consequences of which are unknown. In short, the majority of Judeo-Christianity opposes homosexuality and we as a people would like to preserve our right to oppose and discourage this lifestyle.

Homosexuality, Genetics, and Choice
At the core of this controversy is the the question of whether homosexuality is genetic or a lifestyle choice. I hope to recognize the false dichotomy here. Yes, there is a genetic component here. It is well known that if you mess with fruit fly genes you can make usually heterosexual fruit flies, well, "fruity." So, yes same-sex attraction does have a genetic component to it. Scientists debate endlessly about how much nature and how much nurture influences this. But there is one issue here that makes the issue of same-sex attraction different than skin color. And that issues is what makes humans different than animals. That is, that even though we may have an appetite or an instinct, unlike animals, humans have the power to choose another behavior. And that is what makes same-sex attraction different than skin color. No matter how hard a person tires, you cannot change their skin color. But despite a genetic disposition for same-sex attraction, homosexuality is a choice.

Rights of Children
If there are any civil rights being trampled on in all of this, it is the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves. Marriage is the union of a man and a women for the purpose of raising children. Children have a God-given right and are entitled to be raised in a family with both a mother and a father. With this as the basis for the definition of marriage, it is clear that same-sex marriage would be a violation of the civil rights of children raised in an unhealthy psycho-social environment. Unfortunately, since the sexual revolution and the explosion of children born to single mothers, our country has been guilty of violating the civil rights of children for several decades. And, our society has been suffering the consequences of illegitimacy, broken homes, ignorance, and poverty.

1 comment:

Devin said...

BRoz, I appreciate your insight. I especially appreciate the paragraph that explains the reason the term "marriage" itself needs to be reserved for heterosexual couples. It is a crucial point I missed (did not even think of) in my analysis at it's actually embarassing I didn't consider it, so I may have to modify my post or update it. Good work and thanks again.