Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Warning: This is not a "politically correct" post, at least where I live, but I feel obligated to make a statement of my beliefs and concerns about Proposition 8 due to its critical importance in this election.
I'll begin by affirming that I have no bias against gay individuals or groups per se and that I respect them as friends and associates. Neither do I oppose domestic partner statutes affording them any and all legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples in a marriage relationship. (Family Code 297.5) What I do oppose, specifically, is changing the legal definition of marriage to anything other than between a man and a woman. Here's how I see it. Domestic partnership is a newer status, engendered (and rightfully so) to support/protect the rights of same-sex couples. Marriage, on the other hand, is an ancient institution with well-established parameters developed more years ago than any of us would want to count and supporting/protecting not just the relationship between a man and a woman but the children that naturally result from the biological nature of such a union.
It is my deeply held belief that marriage is ordained of God as a sort of three-way contract with Him, made by a man and a woman who wish to welcome God's spirit children into their home. It is also my deeply held belief that no man or woman has a "right" to expand or redefine an institution as set forth by God. His law is not ours to change. We have no authority, as the California Supreme Court apparently believes it has, to "legislate from the bench."
Of course, I understand that not every American or Californian agrees with me, and I have no problem with that at all. There are many, however, who do agree. A number of people in our country (myself included) view marriage as a sacred estate whose purpose, at base, is procreation. Countless more, while not seeing this as a religious issue, are simply opposed to the idea of making marriage an umbrella category for every type of pairing entered into by committed individuals. In their purely secular view, marriage is marriage and domestic partnership is domestic partnership...historically, two different things. Indeed, why imbue an already established word, "marriage," with new definitions? It becomes confusing. Such new definitions, arguably, are best served by an equally new word. Should an e-mail address have the same nomenclature as a url? They are both internet addresses, but the dynamic, the process, and the end result of their use differs. Specificity in naming them, therefore, makes sense.
Other groups who support Proposition 8 are concerned about the manner in which a liberal state Supreme Court stepped in to overturn a law voted on and put in place by the people of California. Furthermore, a number of legal experts feel that the Court's ruling has established gay individuals as a "protected class." This status would likely make it difficult for individuals who are not gay to prevail in lawsuits where religious rights and gay rights come into conflict. Recently a doctor, whose personal religious views and conscience did not permit him to inseminate a lesbian woman, was sued by her and lost, even though another doctor agreed to perform the procedure. She had alternatives, in other words, but she was not satisfied with them. This suggests to me that the purpose of her suit was to satisfy one thing and one thing only: the need to see her rights as a gay person prevail over this man's right to freedom in practicing his religion according to his conscience. In all fairness, whose rights would be most violated here? Does his choice keep her from being inseminated as a lesbian woman? No. Does her choice to sue him (and win) keep him from practicing his beliefs (and medicine) as a religious man? Yes. She has other options. He does not. And yet, her rights prevailed...a harbinger, many people believe, of things to come. At the very least, a legal precedent has been set.
Another potential problem has been seen in Boston, where gay marriage is already legal. Catholic Charities has closed down operations there because it cannot arrange adoptions for same-sex couples and still maintain integrity with Catholic beliefs. Even though same-sex couples could have used other adoption agencies, the operative agenda was to see a gay person's right to adopt win out over the Catholic church's right to practice its religion and manage its adoption agencies in accordance with its core beliefs. Once again, religious rights lost the battle where there should be no battle at all. In essence, the right of gay couples to adopt at ANY agency they might want to approach was deemed more important than the right of an agency (run and based upon the Catholic religion and its tenets) to self-determine in accordance with its core beliefs. The Church was forced to either surrender its own rights or shut down. In this instance at least, gay rights trumped the rights of a religious group or individual. Where is the justice in that, especially if it becomes the national precedent? Where is the justice in having schools (at best) validate and (at worst) present ideas of marriage and family that are directly contrary to parents' religious beliefs? Should churches be sued if they refuse to allow same-sex marriages in their religious buildings that are open to the public? These are all concerns of mine.
More than a few opponents of Proposition 8 label any person who supports the idea that only a man and a woman should be eligible for marriage as a "hater." Those who espouse same-sex marriage too frequently view those who oppose it as (best case) homophobic and (worst case) bigots who want to deny the rights of fellow citizens simply because their lifestyle does not agree with more traditional views. Both of these assumptions are patently unfair. What's more, they worry me, for they suggest that views based upon religion are now being classed with views based on racism, ageism, or other prejudices. Religion is not a prejudice, it's a right, as valid and sacred as any other. Yet, opinions based on religious belief have become suspect, and the right to exercise religion is becoming somehow "less worthy" than other rights. People do have a right to act in accordance with their religious beliefs, and those beliefs should be respected, not suspected.
Contrary to (some) popular opinion, it is entirely possible to believe that men should not "marry" men and women should not "marry" women without bearing any malice at all toward the men and women in question. I fully support their right to form loving, committed unions under the protection of fair and equitable domestic partnership laws. For me, supporting Proposition 8 is simply about believing that marriage as an institution is ordained of God, between a man and a woman, with procreation as its greatest end. Period.
10/23/08 - POST SCRIPT: CHECK OUT THIS GREAT ARTICLE (TRUE STORY) AT MERIDIAN MAGAZINE.