Post 2.16 - Proposition Hate

"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples." -Judge Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 07-Feb-2012

Proposition 8, voted into law in 2008, was California's ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign was largely bankrolled and supported by the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, various Protestant evangelical sects, and various conservative groups from around the country, including the National Organization for Marriage. The ruling yesterday upheld the earlier federal court ruling that the law violates the U.S. Constitution.

As I discussed yesterday with respect to the liberal/conservative paradigm, this is another case of conservatives denying rights to someone. For the moment, this is a losing proposition with respect to same-sex marriage (and with the resignation of Karen Handel from Komen, also for a woman's right to choose).

What I continue to grapple with and fail to understand is why conservatives and religious fundamentalists care so much about what other people do in their private, personal lives. The need for control over what other people do with their lives and their bodies is nothing short of stupefying. And make no mistake, that is exactly what is happening in these conservative referenda and laws across the U.S. today, from Proposition 8 in California to the recently defeated Proposition 26 in Mississippi.

But back to yesterday's victory.

The Ninth Circuit's decision is just the latest battle in the ongoing war. The decision is limited to California, which may make it more difficult for the case to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, which most believe will be the next step. Had the decision applied to the entire Ninth Circuit, it would have impacted more states, including my home state of Arizona. Arizona adopted Proposition 102 in 2008 limiting marriage to one man and one woman, after failing to pass a similar measure (Proposition 107) in 2006. Under a broader Ninth Circuit decision, this would likely have been nullified.

The crux of the anti-8 case is that the state has no compelling reason to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. In our society, one cannot cite the Bible or any other religious text or teaching as a basis for discrimination. Interestingly, conservatives have tried to use this argument repeatedly over the history of our country when denying rights to women and minorities. The pro-8 legal team did not resort to this (they actively avoided using any testimony from religiously motivated witnesses), but cited easily and repeatedly debunked "studies" to illustrate damage to families and society. And in an amusing turn, if you read the transcripts of the original federal trial, most pro-8 witnesses made the case for the anti-8 side.

I think what continues to anger me about these cases is the ridiculous amounts of money spent to fight these cases and fight these referenda. Here's why:
  1. Civil rights should never be determined by the majority. That isn't how it is supposed to work in this country, and is against the very spirit upon which this country was founded.
  2. Conservative forces claim to be patriotic, but are perfectly willing to deny "liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" portions of our Declaration of Independence to anyone they want to treat as less of a person.
  3. This country is not a theocracy. This country draws its strength from the depth of diversity of its population: many faiths, many nationalities, many beliefs and many ideas. This culture and its people were borne of a rejection of conformity. Every case, every proposition, every legislative vote which denies these facts diminish us all.
  4. We have bigger things to worry about, and all we continue to do is pick sides rather than work together.
It's all so tiresome.

I am happy that the Ninth Circuit upheld Judge Walker's decision, and I have no doubt it will be upheld again if another judicial body is required to hear the case. The evidence coming from the states which do allow same-sex marriage is clear, and the existing, protected California marriages give the same result: heterosexual marriage is completely unaffected, families have not collapsed, and somehow, society continues apace. I look forward to a day when this is simply a non-issue and we can all move on to more important matters.

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