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November 3rd, 2008
05:45 PM ET

California voters should reject Proposition 8

Hilary Rosen
AC360° Contributor

There is a controversial but important initiative on the ballot for California voters to consider tomorrow. It is called Proposition 8. Prop 8’s purpose is to overturn a recent California State Supreme Court decision that determined that gays and lesbians deserved equal protection and rights under the state constitution and that includes the right to avail them of state sanctioned marriage. Prop 8 would amend the state constitution and eliminate the right to marry for these citizens.

This is an extremely important issue and it has gotten a lot of attention in California. Almost anything that happens in California can be important given the fact that the state represents more than 10% of the US population, but important principles are also at stake for all Americans.

In my view, the most important reason to oppose this initiative is the concern about fairness. When voters are given the opportunity to take away another citizen’s constitutional rights, aren’t we all at risk? Why should the government be empowered to interfere in the privacy of someone’s relationship?

Let’s look at a few more of the arguments those urging support for Prop 8 are making.

1. “We must protect traditional marriage” – with all due respect, traditional marriage is in a lot more trouble than a few gays and lesbians getting married threatens. More than one in three heterosexual marriages in this country end in divorce. The leader of the Republican Party is on his second marriage – and we know about that messy divorce! So which traditional marriage needs protecting? Someone’s first? Their second? Their third? It makes no sense to conclude that same sex couple seeking the commitment that the institution of marriage offers, could possibly do any worse with it than heterosexuals have done.

2. “It’s against my religion to support same sex marriage” – Your church doesn’t have to perform any marriage ceremonies for same sex couples. The law allows all religions to continue to have their own rules. But legal marriage is not a religious marriage. It is essentially a license by the state that has nothing to do with religion. Same sex couples are happy to get married in the courthouse and not the church – though there are clearly some religious denominations that welcome the chance to celebrate such unions.

3. “I don’t want my kids to hear about same sex marriage schools” – Nothing in the Constitution provides for education in the schools about same sex couples. Local school boards would still make education curriculum decisions and schools would still be able to have any curriculum they choose. Even the fact that many children of gays and lesbian couples are already in school doesn’t change the need for much of the education about ALL relationships to remain the responsibility of parents.

4. “Why do you need the word Marriage?” – Unfortunately that is the word that defines in both state and federal law all of the benefits and legal responsibilities that a legal union require. “Separate but equal” is a failed concept of justice in this country. We tried it with race only to determine that integration served the nation’s goals much better. . It is impossible to confer access and equality with a new category of relationships. And based on constitutional reasoning, we shouldn’t have to try to change each and every separate law when the whole point of a constitution is to afford sweeping protection for all of its citizens under all laws.

It seems odd that this issue should even be on the ballot for a vote Tuesday. After all, how many of us would really want our relationships put up for a vote? It is hard enough to get the approval of your family and friends of the person you want to marry, imagine if you had to get the approval of 15 or so million voters in your state.

In the midst of this most important Presidential election, the nation will also be watching California Tuesday to see whether reason and compassion prevails and Proposition 8 is defeated.

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Elena

    Marriage should be defined between man and woman. I have nothing against gays. I have gay friends; however, I believe it is unfair to make their same sex intimacy a normal way to choose sexually and to say that it is the same as man and woman couples.

    It's not fair...a gay life style is a choice to be sexual with the same sex and have romance at the sametime. To make it legal to marry into same sex relationships as normal; the same as man and woman, children, teens, etc. will think it is okay to be sexually, emotionally, or romantically attracted to the same sex.

    It will have an effect in schools because making it legal is the first step. It should stop here and stay as a civil union.

    Gays have a civil union and the same legal rights as a man and woman married couples. Now they want to redefine marriage too and say that my lifestyle is like theirs, and it is not. I am straight and not sexually attracted to a woman. My concern is for children and teens; the next step is gay marriage being exposed into schools because examples of man and woman couples are, so gay couples will be next. Children and teen should not be exposed to same sex relationships as another choice. Let them find out on their rather than it being exposed to them in schools because that's what's next.

    Marrigage should not be redefined but kept between man and woman.

    November 4, 2008 at 7:59 am |
  2. Stanley (Michigan)

    As a moderate, I shall play the devil's advocate. It is unfortunate that gay marriage ever became a State issue, to be regulated by the government. It is quintessential of those rights and customs that are so sacred and private that they ought to remain beyond the zone of government interference. That being said, it is hardly suprising that there is such opposition to the idea.

    No matter how far we have fallen from the tree, was the US not founded to be that 'place on the hill?' Were any of the founding fathers publicly gay? In a country that has its history inextricably tangled with Christianity, is it any suprise that there is opposition to public recognition of such a union? And how does a religious adherent claim moral high ground when he or she more or less sanctions a union that could never be for procreation, but rather is representative of a union merely for sex? What people really mean when they say they don't support the use of the word 'marriage' is that they would rather not have society's stamp of approval on that which is scarcely in keeping with the puritanic streak that ran in the pioneers. I for one, I am in that last camp.

    November 4, 2008 at 7:58 am |
  3. Floh

    [...]When the people of California speak again and the gay marriage is overruled once again then what will you say?[...]

    In that case I might be tempted say that the people of California didn't reach the level of education and information to qualify them as mature voters.
    Considering democracy and elections don't work that simple however, it might once again just be a matter of not enough and/or the wrong individuals giving their vote.
    So, – most of all, people should give their vote and make the only smart decision, which is equal rights, no matter the sexual orientation. The churches may well have their own interpretation of human rights, includig their approach towards marriage, but as long as marriage also is a matter of legal rights, those have to be indivisible by any means.

    November 4, 2008 at 6:48 am |
  4. smith

    It's not about rights. Its about what is taught to children. School Children do not need to know this information. They should have a right to oppose gay marriage when they understand it rather than being taught it is a good thing from day 1. Ex inlcude, stories like Prince and Prince. 1st Grade Teachers Wedding. Kindergarden Pledge Cards Etc. There are also people with signs standing out in front of peoples houses saying bigot if they support the bill. America needs to decide if we are goibg forewords or backwards in the 21 Century and approve Prop. 8

    November 4, 2008 at 6:46 am |
  5. wendy soto

    This nation is in trouble. The Bible says homosexuality is an ABOMINATION to GOD, and the nation that allows homosexuality is a doomed nation. The USA is going to go through a time of testing worst than Sodom and Gomorrah.

    November 4, 2008 at 6:32 am |
  6. Denise E.

    "It seems odd that this issue should even be on the ballot for a vote Tuesday. After all, how many of us would really want our relationships put up for a vote?"

    Good point. I would be pretty annoyed if the residents of my state were voting on the legitimacy of my relationship; whom I marry is my own business. As a straight woman, I take this fundamental right for granted. It is not right that other people must have their personal lives scrutinized and legally unvalidated by the religious right.

    November 4, 2008 at 5:45 am |
  7. Denise E.

    Deb,
    I could not have said it better myself. The word is powerful; by saying that some people can have 'civil unions' and others can have 'marriages,' we are essentually saying that one group is inferior to the other.

    It strikes me as odd that prop 8 proponents believe that they cannot be supporters of traditional marriage AND same-sex marriage. As if one negates the other. Marriage between two consenting, loving, and committed people is good for children, families, and the economy.

    I wish I were a resident in California so I could no on prop 8!

    November 4, 2008 at 5:37 am |
  8. Travis Gilbert

    Marriage pre-dates your precious Christian faith and you should have no control over what happens outside of a cathedral, chapel or church. Why does your loving God only hate people you find offensive morally. Open your minds please people Christians were told Love thy neighbour as thyselves and do unto others as I have done unto you but the moral right only choose to selectively quote obscure verses about lying down with another man. Why is that? Aren't you supposed to believe it all???

    November 4, 2008 at 5:33 am |
  9. KG

    Cindy,

    Who are you to judge who gets to marry and who doesn't? Are you God? By supporting Prop. 8, it would be taking away the rights of all Americans in California who want to be treated equally. That also includes the freedom to marry whoever they wish no matter if they are gay or straight. Like Hilary was saying above, it would be just like the "separate but equal" doctrine where race was the center of political and personal strife in 50's and 60's for minorities. You would be subjecting the same discrimination on gays and lesbians who want to have the same rights as straight people. It's about time this law came to pass here in California because out of all the states we have the largest gay and lesbian population and they've been working towards this moment for the longest time and they deserve that right.
    I'm a Christian like most people are but, unlike those who exhibit intolerant behavior towards diversity, I accept and respect these people to love as they see fit as I know Jesus would. This election represents change and overcoming barriers that have stood in the way of diversity and progress. We cannot afford to go back to the old way of thinking. We're at a difficult time in our nation's history and we need something different from the last few decades. Intolerance, divisiveness, and hatred for people different from you will set this country back. This is the total opposite from Jesus' message and mission on earth. So-called Christians, conservatives, and Republicans need to remember who Jesus was and what He stood for because they have strayed so far from Him it's tragic!

    November 4, 2008 at 4:57 am |
  10. Kevin H

    The pursuit of happiness and the assurance that all are equal under the law. When did we as Americans lose these principles? It is truly a sad state of affairs when people try to speak from a self-proclaimed moral highground to interfere in the lives of so many others. Our diversity makes us stronger, our our love and resepct for one another unites us, and our preaching and condemning what we fear because we do not understand only weakens us individually and as a nation. Take command of your own lives, believe in what you believe, encourage others to join your cause if you must, but let freedom ring for all. This is basis upon which our country was founded. This is the American way.

    November 4, 2008 at 3:42 am |
  11. Donna

    I have never understood the other sides argument that gay marriage would somehow make our marriage any less ... Thats B.S. ... I have been married for 35 years , same man and hes retired navy, even he says it is silly and he doesnt understand why people in todays world are still trying tell people what to do in their homes and bedrooms ... And I agree with him totally, one of our few agreements in 35 years too ... hehee
    If you are secure in your sexuality and marriage nothing should be able to shake you ... Some people need someone to hate and to blame for their unhappiness ....
    I am in my mid 50s and was raised in the midwest, same for my husband... We think people should let their neighbors be and out of their affairs and love their family and friends... Life is too short to let something so silly consume you and your life, you will miss wonderful time with your children and grandchildren .....
    I and my husband would vote NO to PROP 8 .........
    If one of our children or grandchildren were Gay or Lesbian we would love them the same and want them to be happy ....

    November 4, 2008 at 3:35 am |
  12. J.V.Hodgson

    This is part of what is wrong with the American election system! this is a national election for the President of America and therefore the VP ( not necessarily voted for) and in some cases Senators and House representatives also national. Putting this sort of subsidiary issue complicates things consumes time.
    This Gay issue is civil rights matter and should be federally legislated, if you must along with Abortion as well.
    Getting the Judiciary ( courts) involved puts government in charge of people rights on both gay relationship and Abortion which neither should do.
    On abortion the mother first and father( rape and incest excluded (( mother only latter case))and Gays marrying or not is not the issue. If they co-habit for more than 1 year any civil rights of Hetrosexuals should be accorded to gays, whether they can be "married" is a matter of thier chosen religion, and whether that chosen church will marry them in whatever state. QED states do not need to legislate on either Abortion or Gay marriage or courts involved. Seems to me to be in total accord with the bill of rights!!
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    November 4, 2008 at 3:21 am |
  13. Thomas

    We need to remember why we are in this Economic crisis, it is the subprime market. The Democrats in Congress wrote legislation to help create this subprime market for mortgage giants like Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. Guess who raised red flags on the subprime market in 2005? McCain did but it fell on deaf ears. Guess who profited well from the subprime market? Obama and other Democrats. Now Obama has the audacity to point the finger at McCain?

    November 4, 2008 at 3:19 am |
  14. Mick

    I don't feel that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people should have any rights. This country was built on heterosexual, biblical thoughts and beliefs. Men with women, women with men. God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. People get with it. you will never accepted. I'm not being mean, not calling you names, just stating facts on how most people in the world feel. They tolerate you, but don't necessarily agree with your lifestyle.

    Dallas, TX

    November 4, 2008 at 2:59 am |
  15. Michael

    "When the people of California speak again and the gay marriage is overruled once again then what will you say?"

    Your time will come too.

    November 4, 2008 at 2:51 am |
  16. David C. Vista, CA,

    Clearly, it would set a very bad precedent to allow the narrow interpretation of religious texts to curtail the rights of any American. Not only would that be contrary to every principal upon which this country is founded, it should be wrong to anyone claiming to follow the teachings of Christ.

    The problem in America today with most Christian Fundamentalists (certainly those that would deny people the right to marry the one they love) is that they have not actually internalized the fundamental teaching to "love one another" and instead have embraced the right-wing political teachings of the modern Pharisees. Other political opportunists have made wedges of these hypocrisies to divide us and our country, and sow the seeds of hate, distrust, and violence. It's quite likely that the very issue of same-sex marriage handed Bush a second term in spite of the reservations of more moderate voters.

    If you carefully study the position of both sides of Prop. 8 in California, what you find is that the proponents have consistently lied or distorted facts in their attempt to scare people into voting yes. The opponents of 8 have consistently told the truth, never wavered in that, and have only ever attempted in their message to set the record straight.

    It appalls me and should outrage any American that the proponents of Prop 8 believe its passage to be so important that the ends justify any means to achieve their political goal including behavior completely counter to their own professed morals. That kind of hypocrisy would never be rewarded by a God I would choose to believe in.

    Clearly, thinking Californians should vote No on Proposition 8, and similar proposals in other states should be voted down as well.

    November 4, 2008 at 2:51 am |
  17. Michael

    Jim in CA wrote:
    "You will learn the Hard way – When Judgement falls just like on Sodom & Gomorrah Then Maybe you’ll get the message God said its wrong & he ment what he said no matter if 300,000,000 Americans say its ok."

    You might feel that way, so why not leave it up for god to judge, not the state. Be careful what precedent you set when giving the state authority to take away people's rights. You might just end up on the wrong end of the stick.

    November 4, 2008 at 2:48 am |
  18. Tim Ranahan

    Thank goodness our country is based on theConstitution and not on the Bible...

    America = equality and Freedom for ALL., with separation of church and state. Please remember this when you vote.

    Tim

    November 4, 2008 at 2:08 am |
  19. Mike

    #1) The idea that America is the land of religion is ridiculous – this land from it's earliest roots was a place for people to escape persecution, religious or otherwise. The pilgrims are the prime example of this, and lets not forget the American revolution.

    #2) This country was also founded on the idea that people have a right to practice what they believe as long as it's not doing anyone irreparable harm.

    #3) Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – it's in the Declaration of Independance.

    #4) Separation of Church and State. That's in the constitution. So no matter what, how, or why people feel they way they do about 'religious preference' in matters of civil rights, the constitution already thought of this about 200+ years ago. Sorry folks, you're a bit behind the power curve on this one. Can you say 'Church of England' circa 1700 A.D.?

    November 4, 2008 at 1:40 am |
  20. Trudy in Peoria

    Must we always keep devolving into religious right positions on this issue? Why is it so hard for conservatives to understand that our government is not the Church of England? From a purely political and socio-economic stance, there is nothing that can justify banning gay-marriage only months after it was enacted by the California legislature. The primitive religious right has a problem with gays because they can't procreate, but thanks to modern science, they can procreate through surrogates, adoption, and transplants. There is absolutely nothing wrong with gay marriage, and for the religious right who keep spouting their dogmatic propaganda, it's not for YOU to pass judgement, only God passes judgement, do not presume to know God's will, or you yourself may be judged. I seriously hope Prop 8 fails today.

    November 4, 2008 at 1:29 am |
  21. jamess chase

    I’m not worried bout an Obama win, u have to be a paid lackey not to see the writing on the wall, no it’s afterwards that worries me. Every right wing wacho job will be throwing every single monkey wrench they can in the works just so they can say, see we told ya it was a bad idea to Elect a MAN named Obama!

    November 4, 2008 at 1:09 am |
  22. John Moser

    When I first read the title of this article, I was shocked. Mainly because I never thought I would hear a journalist in support of something so controversial, but the points you make are fantastic. People can argue all they want that their religion doesn't allow for gay marriage, but the fact is: the state does not equal the church, and the church does not equal the state. It is high time that people get that out of their heads.

    November 4, 2008 at 1:08 am |
  23. Denise Dussault (Montréal)

    Hello Hillary!
    I still don't understand why many religious groups and peoples are fighting so hard against gay couples or gay marriages. Isn't religion about charity, love, compassion and tolerance? In my view, those peoples should be afraid of divorce instead of gay marriage as a threat to this institution. Why a human being who doesn't make any harm to anybody and didn't chose to be what he or she is have to pay the price of hate and intolerance? When will come the time when those who eat too much McDonald's scrap won't have the right to receive healthcare? When will come the time when those who are driving too fast won't have the right to buy a car? When will come the time when those who practice sports will have to pay 5 times the cost of healthcare premiums because the risk of injuries is greater? It makes me so sick!

    November 4, 2008 at 1:08 am |
  24. Jeff_From_Missouri

    looks like i comented on the wrong thing but im all for equal right for everyone

    November 4, 2008 at 12:19 am |
  25. Vvi, WA

    I hope people vote NO on prop. 8 in CA. Married people can cheat, have affairs, divorce, why do they rejected gay's marriage; teenagers get pregnant & get social security before legally can drink....?! We have no right to judge people's lifestyle and privacy as long as nobody get hurt.

    November 4, 2008 at 12:19 am |
  26. Anna

    To Deb–
    The word IS important. It holds the connotation that these two people (regardless of gender) love each other, and it is that love that makes marriage sacred, NOT whether or not it is between a man and a woman.

    To Jim–
    Not everyone believes in the same God you do, and is not required to. Thus, we should not be REQUIRED to hold to those beliefs in which you are so well (apparently) informed.

    In regards to Prop. 8, I find myself also perplexed and unsure as to why this initiative is even on the ballot, along with many friends, some of which are gay, some of which are not. I myself am not gay, nor a resident of the State of California, but if I were, who am I to deny people the right to love each other? Some may argue that denying the certificate of marriage is not prohibiting gays to love each other, but it is sending the message that we as heterosexuals are somehow superior, which certainly is NOT the case. The divorce rate in this country is so high between heterosexual couples that I feel like we as a nation should be advertising for gay marriage, because most of the time, it works. They (the fact that we as a society use this word to identify them also just pisses me off) are voters, citizens, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, lovers, for God's sake they are people. Not only do they deserve the same rights as heterosexuals, but the same comfort and acceptance as well. Everyone needs to grow up and stop being so...STUPID.

    November 4, 2008 at 12:18 am |
  27. Deb - Mt. Juliet, TN

    Regarding point #4 - does anyone else find it interesting that the opponents of gay marriage would be willing to give gays and lesbians the RIGHTS, but not the WORD? As if anybody owns words! Give me the right, and I'll use the word anyway, but as Brown v Board of Education proved, separate is inherently not equal. Different is not the same. And, yes, the word is important . . . to both me and my wife.

    November 3, 2008 at 6:41 pm |
  28. Tammy, Berwick. LA

    Marriage never was and never should be a states' right issue. This is just stupid. Calling it what it is here. Civil unions to keep the legal people happy-anyone should be able to have one. Marriage, well that's a sacred rite between two people who are in love and committed to each other (regardless of gender) and the God of their understanding. The piece of paper doesn't make me love him any more or less, doesn't make me committed to him any more or less, and doesn't mean our relationship means anything more or less than anyone else's does. The marital act simply says we're in this for life and our God acknowledges that. Nothing more. Nothing less. And no state has a right to barge into something sacred.

    November 3, 2008 at 6:35 pm |
  29. Jim, Ca.

    You will learn the Hard way – When Judgement falls just like on Sodom & Gomorrah Then Maybe you'll get the message God said its wrong & he ment what he said no matter if 300,000,000 Americans say its ok.

    November 3, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  30. Cindy

    You may think proposition 8 needs to be rejected but the people of California had already voted prior to the Ca. State Supreme court stepping in and they overwhelmingly voted no to gay marriage 61% to 38%. Just because some took it to a higher court and some liberal judges got a hold of the matter and did what they wanted instead of what the people of their state wanted doesn't make it right. When the people of California speak again and the gay marriage is overruled once again then what will you say?

    Cindy...Ga.

    November 3, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  31. Bailey3

    I don't live in California and I am not gay, but if I could vote I would vote no on Prop. 8. The same people who want less government interference when it comes to money and taxation, want more government interference when it comes to same sex marriage.

    November 3, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  32. Rob From Columbs OH

    I could't agree more. I feel that this ballot initiative is unjust and way out of line. I also firmly believe that should this amentment pass it would violate the due process rights of those who have already gotten married in California.

    November 3, 2008 at 6:11 pm |
  33. Timothy Gibson

    When a nation or state begins to vote on taking away constitutional rights of one group there will begin the open door policy of special interest groups who feel obligated to dictate what is constitutional for each of us. Who then can stand on freedom when freedom is threatened in this manner. Was it not the same type of behavior that nailed Jesus to the cross so long ago.

    Which of your children would you give up in the event that a one child per household became law in the USA? How many stones will be thrown to violate those who you proclaim violate your rights and protections in regards to prop 8?

    Tim Gibson
    San Diego, CA

    November 3, 2008 at 6:05 pm |
  34. Emily from Pasadena

    I agree, we should all vote NO on prop 8. I live in pasadena and there were people in front of stores getting together with signs "yes on prop 8". I have never seen anything so immature and pointless. This was on a Saturday morning too. There were a few people screaming and yelling from their cars, including me. People should mind their own business and worry about their own marriage.

    November 3, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  35. Annie Kate

    Live and let live – I don't see any reason to deny these people the right to marry. It isn't hurting me; in fact its not even affecting me so why should I care? Respect for diversity is mandated in the workplace – why should it not be the same outside of work?

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    November 3, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  36. Liana

    Thank you Hilary Rosen, for this wonderful commentary. If you had written this earlier, I would have printed it and handed it out to the YES ON 8 protesters that ruined my morning before I got on the 405.

    November 3, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  37. cyberczar

    Marraige should be a religious union only anyways.

    It's high time we did away with any civil benefits for "marriage".

    Make all unions civil, regardless of gender, and let the Christian bigots have their "marriages".

    There was once a belief in this Country that blacks couldn't marry whites. Imagine the world we would be living in if that ever was codified in the Constitution.

    November 3, 2008 at 5:55 pm |