I’ve been despondent since Monday morning, friends and neighbors.
That’s when the new polls started coming out about California Proposition 8 – the anti-marriage equality proposition. Just as my pastor feared, the attack ads from the Mormon Church and other backers of Prop 8 have had an effect. Prop 8 is now leading in the polls by about 5 percentage points.
Tomorrow, I start phone banking against Proposition 8. Come with me over the jump for the points I plan to make.
Just in the four months since the court decision went into effect, about 11,000 same-sex couples have married in the state of California. That’s 22,000 people who have exercised their right to marry the person they love. I am one of those 22,000 people.
The new ads plant a bunch of unfounded fears in people who are on the fence. For the uninformed and the afraid, these are powerful fears. They MUST be refuted at all costs.
First, the ads claim that if Proposition 8 fails, people will be sued and/or open to criminal prosecution over their personal beliefs about homosexuality and same-sex marriage – namely, their religion. This is not true. California law already prohibits discrimination against people due to sex, race, religion, national origin or orientation. The passage of Prop 8 has nothing to do with it. Proposition 8 is about one thing, and one thing only: who has the right to get married and who does not.
The second thing these advertisements claim is that Proposition 8 will keep churches from losing their tax-exempt status, if their pastors or administrators refuse to marry gay people in their churches. This is nonsense. First of all, tax-exempt status is federal, not state. Secondly, the court decision In Re Marriage Cases, which decided that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, specifically exempts churches from having to perform wedding ceremonies that are against their beliefs, and I quote:
“no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.”
Another objection the advertisements have is that the non-passage of Proposition 8 will force children in schools to be taught that same-sex marriage is normal (and, by extension, that homosexuality is, too). This is utter nonsense. The schools are already enjoined by state law that parents have the right to pull their children out of any class in which sex ed, health, or family issues are being taught. The defeat of Proposition 8 will not change that law.
Another smear that these ads are promoting is that it’s about controlling activist justices. That’s simply untrue. The justices have a job. Their job is to compare a law with the standards set by the state constitution; if it does not qualify, the law is overturned. The job of the justices is to protect our rights and freedoms by making sure that laws do not fall short of the constitutional standard.
This isn’t about judicial activism. It’s about people who hate gays. Let’s be clear about this. All these lies are just that – lies. And they’re excuses. They’re ways to give people who would otherwise vote to protect rights and freedoms an excuse to vote to eliminate them.
There’s one further thing that most people who would vote for this amendment haven’t thought about. It’s the unexpected consequence of passing Proposition 8. Here it is: It sets a precedent whereby the government of the state of California can prohibit certain religious practices. By enacting this law, the people of the state will have said that they should be able to regulate the free exercise of religion by religious groups who support marriage equality. And the big argument I keep hearing from the anti-gay crowd is that marriage is about procreation – biological procreation. So what’s next? A law saying that only marriages that have produced biological offspring are legal? A law saying that you have three years to produce at least one child in a biological manner, or your marriage is annulled? That would undermine adoption as a method of having children, as well as making marriage impossible for infertile people, elderly people, and those who have chosen not to have children.
If we allow one group’s religious beliefs to limit the choices of every group, if we enshrine that into law, well, members of most minority religions can kiss their rights good-bye. Do we want that?
Finally, and edited to add this: if this passes, it sets a precedent that the government can take away anyone’s civil rights at any time by legislating them away. Do we want that? I don’t think so.
Please help us turn those polls around and get enough ads on the air in enough places that we can defeat this amendment before it nullifies the rights of at least 22,000 gay people in this state, me included. My goal is for us to raise $15 million so we can out-spend the haters. Help me do it?