A Proposal to End the Proposition
March 15, 2009 § 3 Comments
Like Miranda, I wrote an editorial for our English class. Mine is a direct address to the voters of Proposition 8, an issue that I hope will get the attention it needs from all of the feminist community. This concerns equality. In my book, that means it’s a feminist issue worthy of some action and blogging!
November 4th, 2008. Election Day. Same-sex marriage, which was legalized in California less than six months before, is banned once again.
Proposition 8, a ballot measure, passed with a surprising 52 percent of the voting population. 18,000 same-sex couples married in California in those six measly months and now, because of that extra three percent of the population, that number shall not rise.
In the past, California has been a hub for national progress. Innovative politics such as the unionization of migrant workers have spread from cities like Berkeley and Oakland to New York and Connecticut. California, the state where Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man elected into public office, has now banned same-sex marriage. This act will effect the rest of the nation. Its legacy was already enacted when Arkansas and Florida passed ballot measures that took away rights from same-sex couples on that same day, but there is more injustice to come. Proposition 8 reflects the values of the 52 percent of people who voted for the elimination of civil rights for a group of people on the basis of who those people love.
The people who voted for Proposition 8 are not bad people. They are not uneducated or uninformed. The difference between them and me is that I, a liberal New Yorker who believes in equal rights, do not have my vision clouded by a popular myth. What myth clouds the vision for equality these 52 percent of voters have the potential to see? It is the age-old myth of the sanctity of marriage.
When innumerable churches, synagogues, mosques, and individuals deem that allowing same-sex couples to marry destroys the sanctity of marriage, I wonder where this ubiquitous myth comes from. In the bible, sex is ordained as a method for reproduction. To have sex without the intention of reproducing is biblically considered sodomy. If marriage is the key to holy sex, to sex that is approved by God, to sex in fidelity, marriage is therefore a union for the purpose of reproduction…according to religious interpretations, that is. Therefore, same-sex marriage does not have a purpose if same-sex couples cannot sexually reproduce. If same-sex couples got married under the same rights that opposite-sex couples married under, would neither union be considered holy? This means that if same-sex couples could not get married, the sanctity of marriage would be restored to American society, right?
WRONG. To think that there is any sanctity of marriage in this country in the first place is preposterous. Marriage is definitely not a holy union in a country where that union is broken 50 percent of the time. Marriage is not a holy union in a country whose lawmakers make headlines with stories of their own infidelity. To consider marriage as holy does not promote the definition marriage anymore; it now abases the definition of holy, of sanctity.
In the U.S. Constitution there exists a separation between church and state. This separation exists in order to grant everyone, as stated in the Declaration of Independence “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” When the Bible is quoted to deny rights to a specific group of people, the principles upon which this government is founded are defiled. To use religion as an excuse to ban same-sex marriage is an abuse of power and of privilege. The people creating these ballot measures are often heterosexual and follow the word of the Bible literally. To pursue their religious agendas via government power is anti-democratic. It is revealing of how a dominant ideal that has vast representation in the government can take away the rights of a minority that deserves the representation they seldom obtain.
In order to dispel this myth of sanctity, look at where this myth of marriage as a holy union between a man and a woman comes from. When it comes from a religious document that is not adhered to by all, how can it dictate the fates of loving couples that embrace their right to marriage? Why should a right that has been granted to opposite-sex couples for centuries be denied now to those wishing to marry someone of their own sex?
Now, let’s get some perspective here. Forget all that I have said for a moment and answer these questions truthfully. Have you looked at an American history textbook recently? Have you seen the documented legislation that said a white person could not marry a black person? This was the case in 1967, when the Supreme Court questioned the Constitutional value of religious beliefs. “The fact that [God] separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix,” said a Virginia judge regarding interracial marriage in 1967, before his ban was overturned in the federal Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia. Does this sound familiar? Can we replace “races to mix” with “same-sex people to marry?” Are the unjust mistakes of history repeating itself?
Is this legislation not provided under the Civil Rights section, taught to billions of students as emblematic of this country’s injustice? Are gay people next? Will you see men marrying men and women marrying women on the pages of your child’s textbook in that same Civil Rights section? Will these same-sex couples be shouting, “Ha! We finally got justice! We are equal in union under the law!” just as those interracial couples do now?
Same-sex couples are not only next in line to covet these textbook pages, but their fight for civil justice has already begun. Proposition 8 was received by same-sex couples as living, breathing proof that injustice is fighting its way through the marginalized in society. What makes this denial of a universal human right to a certain group of people different from the racist acts of the past?
The California Supreme Court is currently considering overturning Proposition 8, though a just verdict is unlikely. The protests, articles, and commercials have yet to permeate the hearts of those who believe their definition of marriage is holier-than-thou, “thou” being the human beings persecuted for whom they love. I have a question for you, 52 percent of voters for Proposition 8. Is it in the interest of the sanctity of your country, your Church, even your karma, to deny your fellow human beings the universally respected right to have their love recognized?