It’s a little over two years since Proposition 8 in California passed and denied same-sex couples the right to marry based on religious grounds. The discriminatory Prop 8 was overturned by Judge Vaughn Walker in August of this year prompting proponents of the ban to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit Court. The case is being heard in San Francisco and a decision may be months down the road.
Prop 8 is the result of California’s Supreme Court decision that said banning same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional. Religious bigots gathered signatures, mobilized church leaders and conservative pundits to put Proposition 8 on the ballot, and Californians narrowly passed the measure.
Opponents of Prop 8 ran their campaign on equality for all Californians citing the California Supreme Court’s decision that banning anyone from marrying is denying equal rights. It is a simple but prescient defense that the Constitution supports in the 14th Amendment. The arguments against same-sex marriage were based on superstition and outright lies, but they were effective in frightening enough voters so the proposition passed.
The financial support for Prop 8 came from Mormons in Utah, as well as Roman Catholics, and they spent millions of dollars for deceptive campaign ads claiming that if same-sex couples were allowed to marry, then 2nd grade school children would be indoctrinated into the gay lifestyle and taught that it was acceptable for gays to marry. California does not include sex education in 2nd grade curriculum.
The Mormons from Utah actively campaigned against gay marriage from the pulpit in violation of the law, and directed its members to work the neighborhoods and precincts to pass Prop 8. One of their mantras was that it was necessary to deny gays the right to wed to defend traditional marriage. It is a common fear tactic from religious bigots to claim that if a gay couple marries, it will somehow damage heterosexual marriage; there is absolutely no proof supporting that bizarre notion.
The argument that traditional marriage is harmed by gay couples marrying is hollow, and it is like saying that if Country and Western music is allowed to exist, it jeopardizes opera. There is no rationality to the argument except for religious bigotry. Even the bible does not forbid same-sex marriage; it only claims that god thinks homosexuality is wrong.
Religious groups also claimed that allowing gay marriage takes power away from, and discriminates against churches. According to the 1st Amendment, church and state are separate, and frankly, there are no laws mandating or prohibiting any religious group from conducting marriage ceremonies as part of their ritual. When the facts about religious objections to same-sex marriage are exposed, there is no valid reason to deny equal rights to same-sex couples; except for invalid religious bigotry.
Prop 8 proponents also claimed that same-sex couples did not, or could not raise children, and took it a step farther saying gay couples were bad parents. Judge Walker addressed that issue in his August 2010 decision and found the argument contrary to the facts. Facts are not part of the narrative or argument in favor of banning same-sex marriage because they are non-existent; unless one considers bigotry to be a valid argument.
Bigotry, whether religious or racial is not a valid argument in America. The Constitution guarantees equal rights to every American regardless of anyone’s ancient mythological beliefs. America is governed by the laws of the Constitution and not the bible, although evangelical Christians believe otherwise. If Christians had their way, they would reject the Constitution and replace it with the Ten Commandments. There are those in the conservative movement who want to abolish the 14th Amendment that guarantees equal rights to every American, and make no mistake, they will abolish equal protection under the law if given the opportunity.
Same-sex marriage is an equal rights issue and nothing more. If Christians don’t like gay marriage then they don’t have to participate, but that is not enough for them. If religious groups do not want to allow same-sex weddings in their churches, they have that right. However, they do not have the right to deny any other couple from marrying, and the law should not allow them to punish non-believers.
Prop 8 punishes gays who want to marry based on Stone Age mythology, and it is unconstitutional and immoral. Is it true that traditional marriage is between opposite-sex couples? Yes it is, but the Constitution has no “traditions” clause, and nothing supersedes equal rights whether from the bible or some crazy bigamists in Utah.
If the appeals fail in the Ninth Circuit, the Christian bigots and family organizations will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of banning same-sex marriage in America in perpetuity. They will continue to argue that traditional marriage is an institution and that God hates gays, so they will not extend equal rights to gays even though that is the provenance of the Constitution. Christians still cling to the notion that their beliefs are superior and must be adhered to by everyone or else they will punish them. Throughout the ages, Christians have punished every group that fails to obey their laws, and it is no different with gay couples wanting to marry. Discrimination and punishment is what Christians do best, and it is a travesty they are allowed to do it in America.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.