proposition hate

I hear that there are quite a few of you out there thinking about voting for California’s Proposition 8, the so-called “California Marriage Protection Act,” which would effectively write a ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution.

I have to admit, though, that I’m having trouble understanding why you’d vote for something like that. I’ve been in a heterosexual marriage for over 14 years, and that’s long enough to have experienced marriage both before and after the advent of legal same-sex marriage. I can honestly say that same-sex marriage hasn’t had much of an effect on my own marriage. If anything, the fact that same-sex couples want to get married is a kind of validation. It can’t be all that bad if everyone wants to do it.

If same-sex marriage has negatively affected your marriage, then I suggest that perhaps your marriage isn’t as resilient as it could be. Seek marriage counseling.

“Ah,” you might say, “but homosexuality is wrong.” I don’t agree, but it’s certainly your prerogative to feel that way. You might have deeply felt beliefs about which sexual organs should go where, based on what some really old book or really old guy in a pointy hat says.* Fine. So don’t get married to someone who’s got the same parts as you. That seems like a pretty easy-to-follow rule. You don’t need a constitutional definition to keep you from accidentally marrying the wrong person, do you?

What it comes down to is this: You’ve only got one reason to vote for Proposition 8, and that’s because you like to tell other people what to do. There’s a strong puritanical tradition in this country of poking our noses in other people’s business, but it’s always run counter to the value we (claim to) place on freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The truth is that, if you’re a heterosexual, same-sex marriage doesn’t affect you.

Or rather, it only affects you to the extent that you let it. If the mere fact that loving, same-sex couples can express their commitment and devotion to each other through marriage fills you with fear and disgust, then I think that’s your problem, not theirs.

* I am not, of course, referring to Dumbledore.


13 thoughts on “proposition hate

  1. I accidentally deleted the following reader comment:

    “There are two other reasons for voting Proposition 8:

    1) Marriage is a religious sacrament. It is limited to heterosexual unions in all three Abrahamic faiths. Any attempt to impose changes upon that is going to be seen as wrong.

    2) The CA Supreme Court equated denying homosexual marriage to be the equivalent of racism. That set a very bad – and written by the court – precedence. It opened the door for forcing churches to either perform gay marriages or forcing them to allow gay marriages to be performed on holy ground. This has already happened in MA, where a church lost part of their tax free status for refusing to allow a gay marriage to be performed in their chapel.”

    Neither of these is a good reason to vote for a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage. Marriage is not just a religious sacrament; it is also a legal status. Let’s keep those separate. By the logic of item #1, we should also have constitutional bans on eating pork and making interest-bearing loans (or “usury”). Don’t our banks have enough to worry about these days?

    And as for #2, I happen to agree that churches should determine for themselves whether or not to perform same-sex marriages — but that cuts both ways. However, a ban on same-sex marriage wouldn’t solve this issue; it would only make it moot.

  2. Another thing to note re: #1:

    I don’t know whether there are liberal wings of Islam that perform same-sex unions on holy ground, but there are certainly a whole lot of Christian and Jewish congregations and larger church organizations that condone same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage and ordain individuals in committed same-sex relationships. And, I’m pretty sure the Christian bible doesn’t have an explicit definition of marriage either. Which is all just to say that people making a sweeping argument in that direction are just wrong.

    nice post, klc

  3. Dear KC,

    I don’t see that Proposition 8 is a proposition of hatred. Without knowing anyone personally, I imagine that there are many who are using hatred and malice as a means of furthering a “Yes” vote; however, this works the other way as well. There is much more to the issue of homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage than religion and morality. Why don’t you check-out this post and let me know what you think: From Tolerance to Intolerance: How the Normalization of Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage Will Lead to the Suppression of Freedom (

    Simply joining the conversation, Jesse Wisnewski

  4. Jesse,
    I read your blog post, and this argument that allowing same-sex marriage will somehow suppress others’ freedom is frankly ludicrous. Same-sex couples simply want the rights afforded their heterosexual counterparts. To deny them anything less is the real suppression of freedom here.

    Also, to suggest that your argument is based on anything but “religion and morality” is also way off. Upon what other grounds could you oppose the “normalization” (your word) of homosexuality? You clearly think homosexuality is wrong, and the only basis upon which you can make such a judgment is a moral one.

    As I said, you are of course free to feel that way. It’s a free country — or at least it is for most of us. What Proposition 8 does is deny freedoms that most Americans enjoy to a targeted population. That’s not democracy; that’s hatred.

    What I suspect you really want, and what most proponents of propositions like this want, is to have government validate your personally-held moral beliefs. What does that say about the strength of your beliefs, that you need to government to agree with you? The rightness or wrongness of homosexuality is something between you and your God. Please leave the rest of us out of it.

    I don’t think legislating morality is a legitimate use of government, and neither should you (because if *I* could get *my* personally-held moral beliefs made into legislation, I don’t think you’d be very happy with the results).

  5. What confuses me most, Mr. Wisnewski, is your post’s suggestion that proposition 8 is about preventing California from giving “special protection” to homosexuality and homosexual relationships. If allowing same-sex couples to marry (i.e. to enter in to the same civil contract allowed to heterosexual couples) amounts to giving same-sex couples special protection, then isn’t a law decreeing that only heterosexual couples are allowed to enter into the civil contract of marriage giving special protection to heterosexuals?

    I know I live in a dream world, but I tend to think that the church and the state need to un-entangle themselves a bit in terms of marriage. If the only place you could gain access to the *civil* aspects of marriage was a courthouse and questions of religious conjoining were the only thing on the table at religious ceremonies, then maybe the argument would be a whole lot clearer. In addition, folks who worry about the state forcing churches to perform same-sex marriages (a concern that i’m pretty sure is a load of hog wash, btw) wouldn’t have to worry any more because religious marriage would be entirely separated from civil marriage. But, like I said, I live in a dream world sometimes.

  6. As pertains to JW’s post, I have to disagree. What most mainstream churches and pastors are afraid of with Prop 8 (and I’m not going to disclose my source, so you’ll just have to trust me that I have somewhat of an inside track here) is not that they’ll be legally forced into performing weddings for gay people, because that’s just ludicrous and they know it. What they are afraid of is having to declare their discrimination openly and publicly.

    Currently they can get away with saying that they only perform marriages that are legal and therefore “real.” So no “blessings,” no “commitment ceremonies,” etc, even for heterosexual couples. But if gay marriage remains legal, then these churches are forced to acknowledge that their restrictions on which marriages they will or won’t perform are narrower than the values of mainstream society. Thus the church risks becoming more obscure, less relevant, less prevalent, etc. As of now, the only congregations “declaring themselves,” as it were, are those that are inclusive and welcoming to the GLBT community. Mainstream churches are terrified of having the tables turned.

    I say bring it on. I’m really sick of this attitude that says it’s okay to be a bigot if you’re a nice person otherwise. No. If you’re a bigot, you’re not a nice person. Too bad. And if your church discriminates, you don’t get to pretend that it’s okay and we’re all one big happy family-of-God anyway. Nope. You take your hatred and fear and go away. You’re not invited to Thanksgiving.

  7. Oh, and I just thought of something else. JWs thing about “special privileges leading to less freedom” and the Yes on 8 rhetoric about how homosexuals “don’t get to redefine marriage for the rest of us” really irk me. Who is this “rest of us?” This assumes everyone must be putting people into bounded categories: gay and NOT-gay. And that these two groups must necessarily have conflicting interests. Bullshit. Here are two other groups: people who discriminate, and people who don’t. Conservatives for Prop 8 are just terrified that there might not be enough of them in that first category. It’s no fun to feel marginal, is it?

  8. Pingback: whatever it is, i’m against it « scrivel

  9. KC,

    Thanks for writing back and sharing your thoughts. Just a couple of things I wanted to ask for clarification purposes. First, you said, “this argument that allowing same-sex marriage will somehow suppress others’ freedom is frankly ludicrous.” Based upon the evidence, how can you make this claim?

    Also you said, “I don’t think legislating morality is a legitimate use of government, and neither should you” Personally, I agree wiht R.J. Rushdoony, who said, “Every law on the statue books of every civil government is either an example of enacted morality or it is procedural thereto. Our laws are all moral laws, representing a system of morality. Laws against manslaughter and murder are moral laws…Traffic laws are moral laws also: their purpose is to protect life and property.”

    He went on to say, “We may disagree with the morality of a law, but we cannot deny the moral concern of law.”

    Finally, “all law is enacted morality and presupposes a moral system, a moral law, and all morality presupposes a religion as its foundation” (see Can We Legislate Morality?)

    This appears what is happening with the two of us. We both are clearly seeing that the laws are moral, but we are disagreeing upon the morality of certain laws and amendments. Foundational speaking, considering that you have called Proposition 8 “pure evil,” then within your religious system – rather it is explicitly and/or implicitly adhered to – provides the standard by which you judge the Proposition to be evil. Would you agree with this?

    Thanks for sharing KC

    Jesse Wisnewski

  10. 7deadlycyns,

    Quite the name!

    You commented in response to my post, “As pertains to JW’s post, I have to disagree.” Same question that I just asked KC now goes to you, “Based upon the evidence, how can you make this statement?”


    Jesse Wisnewski

  11. JW:
    So now you *are* saying it’s a moral thing? That’s a bit of a shift.

    I agree that laws are quite often tied to moral systems, but much of it is also a social contract. Do we outlaw murder because it’s “wrong,” or do we outlaw murder because I want to enjoy the relative security of knowing that other people have a serious disincentive to kill me? Whether it’s moral or a purely social contract sort of thing, I think we can all agree that murder should be illegal.

    However, polls suggest that not all of us can agree that same-sex marriage should be illegal. Proposition 8 is a case of some people seeking to impose their moral standards upon everyone else. And the net result of that imposition is to make certain citizens of this country unequal under the law. One of the principles upon which our nation is founded is the idea of equal treatment under the law. Regardless of how you feel about same-sex marriage as a moral issue, I still don’t see how you could argue for unequal treatment for people who have done nothing but somehow offend your personal moral sensibilities.

    You’re scared. I get that. The world is changing, and you don’t want it to. But I’m not willing to vote to take away freedoms from some people just to make you feel better. Besides, for the first time in a long while, I *like* the way things are moving.

  12. Well, let’s see. How can I disagree that the ersatz legal ramifications aren’t the point? Because I know intimately the struggles of religious leaders who have long considered themselves civil rights advocates now suddenly faced with a difficult choice in this era, in which what they think of as “moral” issues are now suddenly also civil rights issues. I’ve had the arguments with someone sunk knee-deep in that struggle. I’ve heard all about the church leadership debates, at the local and national levels. They don’t want to be backed into making a choice between social discrimination and theological consistency. They’d just as soon the world not change and this “problem” go away.

    I get it. But that’s not going to happen. It’s not going to go away. “Normalizing” is another word for social change. Once upon a time there were also stigmas associated with divorce, “shacking up,” and out-of-wedlock births. Not so anymore. This change is coming, whether you like it or not.

    And as for the “argument” that freedom of religion will be compromised by this normalization, yes, you’re right, insofar as you will no longer have the right to discriminate against GLTB people without having the rest of society turn up their noses at your particular brand of Christianity. (Won’t this just be that much more fuel for the whole “in the world, but not of it” business?)

    The Yes on 8 supporters have an ad out that says “they don’t get to redefine marriage for the rest of us.” Alternatively, I’d say that bigoted conservatives don’t get to dictate social change (or lack thereof) for the rest of us.

  13. Pingback: fear and loathing and proposition 8 « scrivel

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