Thursday, October 16, 2008

Proposition 8

I didn't intend for this blog to be a political forum at all.  I don't necessarily like political discussion, and hate being stereotyped as a conservative (or under any other label for that matter.)  Be it known that I do not belong to either of the dominant political parties.  I lean right on some issues, and I definitely lean left on others.  My only political alliegance is to my conscience.  So please don't write this off as the sentiments of a right-wing nut.  I don't write on political subjects, but I couldn't leave this particular issue alone.

A particularly left-leaning friend (at least left-leaning as Utah County Mormons get) recently spoke to me about a fireside held at BYU concerning Proposition 8, the bill in California seeking amendment to California's constitution, qualifying a legally-recognized marriage as between a man and a woman only.

My take on gay marriage has been perhaps more liberal than many of my friends. I, like many other Mormons, feel that the generalization and normalizing of homosexuality is a threat to the traditional family. I feel that every child born is entitled to a mother and a father (obviously, many children aren't afforded that privilege, but why curtail that any more than it already is?)  I, like my church, believe that the traditional family is integral to society.  My zany (yet traditional) family has been my greatest source of happiness in this life, perhaps second only to the happiness adherence to my religious beliefs brings.  I want that familial happiness for others.  Homosexuality threatens that.  That being said, I have concluded in the past that I can’t in good conscience say that homosexuals don’t have claim on some basic rights that married men and women do—homosexuals should be allowed to visit one another in hospitals.  They should be afforded basic inheritance rights.  They should be allowed to utilize couples benefits in insurance, and so on.  While I don’t necessarily support the lifestyle, and support maintaining the traditional definition of marriage, I don’t feel justified in imposing my belief system on gays to the point of undermining their rights.

My friend feels even more liberally on the subject than I, feeling that because gays should have those rights, they should be afforded marriage.  When he saw an advertisement for the BYU fireside claiming that religious freedom was at stake, he was a little frustrated, thinking that BYU was being misleading.  How could the failure of an amendment preserving the definition of marriage honestly hurt religious freedom?  A bit incredulous, he went to the fireside.

BYU’s point as I understand it was this—California is setting a potentially dangerous precedent. There is a very legitimate fear both in the LDS Church and other churches, that if they as a church entity refuse to recognize legally-endorsed same sex marriages, a civil lawsuit (or several) would be brought to bear against them.  A single successful lawsuit proving that any church refuses to recognize a lawful marriage on moral grounds could potentially receive a court order to not only recognize those marriages, but perform them.  Opponents of the proposition say this won't happen, citing ordinances within Californian law attempting to protect churches and other entities from this problem.  But if same-sex marriages are recognized in the California constitution, that law may be overruled as unconstitutional.  Were that to happen, defying such a court order would almost assuredly lose any church its tax-exempt status.  My friend left the fireside with less incredulity, andwith a changed viewpoint on proposition 8.

This got me researching the issues behind proposition 8.  Exactly what’s at stake here?  I was surprised to find that the issues go far deeper than a simple argument of whether gays should be allowed marriage. There are a lot of legal implications outside of the religious ones just mentioned.

If legally recognized, California schools will likely begin teaching K-12 students about gay marriage.  It’s been rampant in Massachusetts.  Opponents claim there is no desire to teach children about LBGT relationships, but that has been shown to be a false claim.  Already in California, a 1st grade class attended a school-endorsed field trip to their lesbian teacher’s same-sex wedding.  The school declined to answer whether or not there had been any school-endorsed field trips to traditional weddings.  Parents with Judeo-Christian morals are extremely fearful—how ironic is it that in a land of religious freedom, morals against millions of people’s belief systems are being taught as acceptable and good, while the belief systems themselves aren’t even summarized cursorily?

The other interesting thing I learned is that Prop-8 in no way undermines LBG community rights. domestic partnerships—gay marriages in all but name—have been and will continue to be legal in the state of California, whether or not Prop 8 passes.

I could go on for some time about Prop-8 and the issues on either side, but the bottom line is this: the failure of Prop-8 does so much more than just give the title of marriage to gays.  It undermines millions of Californians’ beliefs and can even threaten the church entities to which they belong.  Wherever you stand on moral grounds concerning same-sex marriage, proposition 8 is potentially destructive to freedoms this country is based on.

And besides, traditional marriage rocks!

A Few Links:

An Objective view at Proposition 8, and its issues.

A really interesting article regarding Proposition 8 an its impact on children's education.{5627F03A-80C6-4259-8A81-E5D73F237D93}&dist=hppr

The Official California voter pamphlet arguments for and against:

"My advice to you is to get married. If you find a good wife, you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher."