prop 8

I felt the need to repost Lag Liv's blog on Prop 8 here. I think it is wonderful, well written, and really illustrates my own thoughts beautifully. Feel free to follow the link to comment on her original post:

On Marriage, Giraffes, and Proposition 8

I have little respect for people who see the world in black and white- especially in politics, where you can find intelligent, thoughtful people on both sides of almost any issue. However, there is one issue on which I cannot understand the other side, and that is gay marriage.

This is an issue that feels so personal to me I can barely write about it without tearing up. My best friend since I was five, the boy I grew up with, who was a "bridesman" in my wedding, and someone I've known and loved longer than my own brother, is gay. He told me that in high school and it rocked me to my core in a way you can only understand if you grew up in a suburb as conservative as mine. And while I struggled with what that meant in the aftermath of our conversation, one thing remained absolutely clear: this was my best friend, the same boy I made forts with on the greenbelt and immediately told the truth about Santa Claus when I discovered it - nothing about him had changed and my friendship with him didn't change either. From that point forward I was a secret gay-rights activist. I glared at those who used "gay" as an insult (which in high school is pretty much everyone) and I worried about my best friend growing up in an America that discriminated against him.

And that's what it is- discrimination. Treating two like people differently. I have yet to hear a single coherent, non-religious reason why same-sex couples should be an exception to the Constitution's fundamental right to marry. I've heard "marriage is a religious institution" and while that's true, it is also a governmental one, and until the government stops being the regulator of marital unions, you can't use religion as an argument when there is a Constitutionally mandated separation between church and state. Of course the flip side of that is that churches don't have to have anything to do with these ceremonies, but as a governmental matter, there is no reason to deny a governmental right to an entire class of people. And those rights are numerous and important- joint tax returns, hospital visiting rights, rights of survivorship in wills, the right to sue for wrongful death, automatic inheritance of a portion of your spouse's estate, exemptions in estate and gift taxes, insurance benefits, and so many more.

To me, it is a civil rights issue. Just as I find it crazy that my grandparents lived during a time when it was illegal in some states for blacks and whites to marry, I hope that my children will find it bizarre that I lived in a time when it was illegal for two gay people to marry. Another argument I've heard is that marriage has traditionally been between a man and a woman- well, black people were traditionally slaves and that didn't make it any more right. There's also the "it isn't natural" argument which I'm pretty sure people also said that about interracial marriage, plus there are numerous members of the animal kingdom who prefer to mate with the same sex and I'm not sure it gets much more "natural" than a bunch of giraffes out in the wild who have more same sex "couplings" than heterosexual ones (a random fact brought to you by Wikipedia). But as a married person, the argument that offends me the most is the one that says heterosexual marriage is somehow threatened by same sex marriage. I don't know about the state of your marriage, but mine is decidedly not threatened, weakened, or undermined in any way because more people want to join in pledging their lives to each other. And it's probably worth noting that this is one of the few issues on which JP and I are in total agreement.

Jerry Sanders, a conservative Republican mayor of San Diego who has campaigned for Proposition 8 which seeks to "eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry" (quoting the text of the Proposition), decided not to veto a city council decision to support same-sex marriage. In an emotional press conference that made me cry at my desk, he gets it right: "As I reflected on the choices I had before me last night, I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community they were less important, less worthy or less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage than anyone else simply because of their sexual orientation... In the end I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them their relationship, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife."

We need more politicians like him- and by that I don't mean ones who think like me (though I wouldn't complain). We need leaders who are willing to truly reconsider their positions, who don't cling blindly to the positions of their party, and who are willing to take a stand and do what is right for the people they serve. I wish I lived in California so that I could vote No on Proposition 8 tomorrow for my best friend who deserves to have his relationship respected by the government just like mine.

Vote No on Prop 8. Protect all families, not just those that look exactly like yours.


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