Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prop 8 Decision Day

I don't often get political on my blog (although I do venture there sometimes). But I feel very strongly that what I'm about to talk about transcends politics.

Today, the California Supreme Court will announce its decision on whether or not to uphold Proposition 8.

I try to be tolerant of people whose views differ from mine. In most cases, I succeed. But when it comes to gay marriage, I fall a bit short of that goal.

I cannot think of one single justifiable reason to prevent two consenting adults who wish to marry each other from doing so. I have heard all the arguments against gay marriage, and for me, none of them holds water. I am not going to start rehashing the entire debate, because I'm sure all of you are familiar with the arguments on both side. But to put it succinctly, same-sex couples getting married has no negative impact on anybody else in society. The only argument against gay marriage is founded in religion, homophobia, or both--and it's our government's job to separate religion and state, and to protect those who are undue targets of prejudice.

I truly hope and believe that one day our children will look back on the history of gay marriage the same way that we look back on the history of interracial marriage--with shock and disbelief that it was ever not allowed, that our government ever deliberately denied a group of people such a basic right.

And it is a basic right. Marriage offers several tangible benefits that are denied to those who are not legally wed. Parents and partners who have had to deal with an ill partner can attest to the difficulties faced when trying to make decisions or visit a sick family member in the hospital.

And there's the way that marriage has affected me most, personally--immigration. Now that Torsten and I are married, he can have a green card, which means that he is guaranteed the right to live and work in the US, with me, as long as he doesn't commit a crime of moral turpitude (murder or rape, basically). I cannot tell you how much peace of mind this brings both of us. I cannot tell you how happy we are to know that we always have the right to stay together, live together, support ourselves and our families in this country.

I cannot believe that other loving couples are denied this privilege. I cannot believe that caring, stable, productive citizens are forced out of this country in order to live their lives with those they love. I cannot believe that the people who oppose extending the right to marry to all those consenting adults who wish to partake in it--using personal reasons that have no legal bearing--are the ones who are supported by our government at this time.

I don't think this is a political issue. This is an issue that affects the lives and freedoms of an important, ostracized minority within our country. It is our government's job to protect that minority, and so far they have failed to do so. This is not a matter of opinion. Any individual's personal opinion about homosexuality should not be given any weight whatsoever when it comes to the legal decision about whether or not to extend equal rights to all citizens.

Of course, even if California does overturn Prop 8, it's only another tiny step--and the immigration benefits that I talked about won't be offered to same-sex couples until the day that the federal government starts to recognize same-sex marriage. But a series of tiny steps can turn into a big sprint, a big breakthrough. And all those couples who are married in California, or who wish to be, deserve to be allowed the same opportunity that heterosexual couples are offered.

I can sort of, tragically, understand why Prop 8 passed--because it essentially asked individual voters to offer their opinions about homosexuality, and what rights should be extended to same-sex couples, and unfortunately the majority of voters in California held prejudiced opinions.

But I see no excuse for the Supreme Court of California, the governing body, to uphold this law. I see no explanation for how it can possibly be constitutional to systematically deny rights to a group of people based on their sexuality. I don't care if 52% of California voters believe that gay people will burn in hell--it is not the government's place to judge that. It is the government's place to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

And I hope with all my heart that the Supreme Court announces the just decision today, and allows all California residents--all equally deserving citizens--the right to a stable marriage.

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing this, Jess. I was listening to a piece this morning on NPR about the upcoming vote today. And how, no matter what happens today, the fight will continue. Both sides feel very strongly about this issue. It is my firm (and unfortunate) belief that it will take years for our country to offer true equality to all people contributing to the greatness of this country. Results of this vote come out at 10AM Pacific time today.

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  2. I could not agree with you more. Beautifully stated. I'm so glad you wrote this.

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  3. I love you soooooooo much and totally agree with you.

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  4. all you have to do is look to Canada (you know, that big frozen land up above you where polar bears roam free and we all live in igloos?) - we've legalized same-sex marriage since 2006 and no fire and brimstone have rained down from the sky yet.

    Whodathunkit?

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  5. Well said! I am with you on this.

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  6. Could not possibly agree with you more!

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  7. I love the way this was written...and especially love the phrase about our children looking "...with shock and disbelief that it was ever not allowed, that our government ever deliberately denied a group of people such a basic right..." I had never thought about it that way, but it is so, so true.

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  8. Oh, you know I am with you on this issue.

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  9. I also love you very much even if I disagree with you 100%.

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  10. The point here, for me, is not whether you think homosexuality is right or wrong. It's not even whether you think gay couples are deserving of fundamental civil rights (because let's be honest with ourselves, if you're a Prop 8 supporter, then you DO think my gay friends deserve less than you do). The point to me, in all of this, is whether a simple majority should be allowed to take away the rights of a minority. As Moreno's dissenting opinion puts it,

    "The majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution."

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  11. You stated it perfectly. As did Justice Moreno. I'm sad that this happened today and I hope that others will rise up for what's right across the states.

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  12. i'm with you - i have heard every argument against same sex marriage there is, and frankly? none of them are legitimate. i don't actually care what anyone's personal opinion is of gay people. just because you don't like them, or like the idea of two people who aren't a carbon copy of yourself being together, is not a legitimate reason to deny fundamental civil rights to an entire group. i don't particularly like murders or rapists, and even THEY are allowed to marry whoever they want. i mean, assuming they're not a GAY murderer, because OMG wouldn't THAT be awful? if a murdering homicidal maniac were GAY? like, ew. don't let THAT freak get married.

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  13. I completely agree with you. I was saddened by the ruling today. Why anyone cares if 2 people get married is beyond me. Things like this are the shining examples of why I strongly dislike religion. They are walking contradictions. "Love everyone(but only if they agree with you)"

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  14. Things like Prop 8 make it pretty clear that democracy is a stupid idea.

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  15. Word on your post. Boo on today's outcome. :-(

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  16. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Not only are you a fantastic writer, but you just have such a clear, even way of expressing controversial opinions. I'm 100% in agreement.

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  17. I must object.
    Marriage is only for men and women. If gays want to have the same rights as married folks, then they get a civil union.

    I have a 4 year old son and I tried to explain to him about my cousin wanting to marry his partner.... that backfired and he started saying that he wanted to marry his best friend.

    I honestly feel that the whole marriage thing should be taken out of the hands of the courts and govn't and since both sides can't conpromise, then the govn't should only recognize civil unions and then folks can feel free to marry at whatever church wants to marry them.

    This will mean that the govn't only recognizes civil unions (same sex or opposite) and then a couple can say " I was married in the Catholic Church" or " I was married in the x, y, or z church".

    Bottom line, if you all don't live in CA, and didn't vote on Prop 8, then you ought not be lamenting this issue.

    Ironically, it is the same folks that helped elect Obama, that voted to pass Prop 8 (blacks and hispanics).

    Dexter Black
    Motnerey, CA

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  18. To Dexter (comment above me): Civil unions are basically the same thing as "separate but equal." Not all states even recognize civil unions right now. And actually, it was not just the "blacks and hispanics" that voted for Prop 8- there was a HUGE Mormon backing.

    To Jess: good post. I agree that someday (hopefully soon!), our country will look back on this and wonder why we didn't allow gay people to marry earlier. They have as much right to marry as I have to marry my fiance. Makes me happy I live in the Northeast where we are showing every other state the future!

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  19. I thought this was wonderfully written. One of your best! Doesn't hurt that I agree completely.

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  20. Dexter (anon. above),
    You say "Marriage is only for men and women. If gays want to have the same rights as married folks, then they get a civil union."

    But then you say:

    "I honestly feel that the whole marriage thing should be taken out of the hands of the courts and govn't and since both sides can't conpromise, then the govn't should only recognize civil unions and then folks can feel free to marry at whatever church wants to marry them...This will mean that the govn't only recognizes civil unions (same sex or opposite) and then a couple can say " I was married in the Catholic Church" or " I was married in the x, y, or z church"."

    Which means that a) gays and straights DO get equal rights as now ONLY civil unions are recognized and B) Marriage/civil unions are now solely a church issue.

    What about those of us who are not involved in - and did not get married in - churches? For some, marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. Religion should be left out of it entirely: And possibly government should be, too. Why does the government give me a tax break because I'm married? Should my single friends be financially punished because they are not? This is something that I struggle with, as it really doesn't make sense to me. Let people commit to their loved ones as they choose to do so, and leave the institutions out of it.

    Jess, I totally agree with you and your assessment that it will someday be viewed by our kids in the way that racial issues are currently viewed by us. This is exactly how I have been thinking about it, too. Spot on!

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  21. I absolutely agree with you Jess and I am so sad about the supreme court decision on this. I hope that it gets turned around soon and, as you say, that one day we can look back on this in disbelief.

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