Why hello there.
First, apologies for getting behind on comments, both approving and replying. I know being super-busy isn’t really an excuse, because we’re all in the same boat. I’ll try to do better – I love getting comments and I really appreciate everyone who reads, whether or not you comment.
Second, hey, this liveblogging thing is pretty cool! I’m back home from South Dakota on an actual computer, but it’s nice to know that one-fingered typing can keep you updated when I’m at exciting related events (hopefully there will be more of those after I graduate and am employed). I am glad, though, that I’m not going to have to watch the debate on a three-inch screen! Speaking of South Dakota, I’ve decided to do a little spotlight on ballot initiatives feature this month, to keep y’all informed about gender and sexuality related issues that are up for a vote in your state. As promised, I’ll let you know about Measure 11, as well as my own experience fighting it and the interesting perspectives that South Dakotans bring to the table on the issue. Tonight, I’d like to talk about Prop 8 in California, and gay marriage in general.
I know most of you reading are in favour of gay marriage, and against Prop 8, but I’ve also noticed some anti-gay comments on the blog, and I’d like to make a rational appeal just in case there are any undecided California voters hanging around. The language itself is pretty simple. It would add a section stating that, “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” There isn’t much to debate about that language, but I’d like to give a few reasons why gay marriage should be valid and recognized, however you personally feel about gay people and whether or not you think that gays should marry as a religious or social matter.
- Disallowing gay marriage doesn’t get rid of gay relationships. Gay people will still love each other, make commitments to each other, say vows to each other, live together, and raise children together in California if the proposition passes. They will still marry each other in churches. The only thing at issue here is whether gay marriage is legally recognised by the state.
- Allowing gay marriage doesn’t threaten heterosexual marriage. The divorce rate has been going up for years without any recognition of gay marriage in this country. People marry for many, many, many reasons and they divorce for just as many reasons. Perhaps the culture of a whole is changing to de-emphasise marriage, but if this is what bothers you, gay marriage should be a good thing. It encourages people who are already in stable, loving relationships to marry, and means more children will be raised in the context of a marriage. Again, the idea is not that the state is creating more gay relationships to lure straight people away from marriage. The relationships are already here. Straight people are not lured away by the prospect of a gay marriage. Closeted gay people in heterosexual marriages were already gay in the first place.
- Gay marriage protects children. However you feel about gay people adopting kids together, or about second-parent adoptions or other family structures involving gay parents, they do exist. There are children being raised by gay people, and if Proposition 8 passes they will be threatened. The rights and benefits that extend to married people include many rights, financial and otherwise, designed to protect children. Even if children have rights by virtue of the parent-child relationship, whether the parents’ partnership is recognised or not, there is a stigma that goes along with having a law on the books suggesting that a child’s family is unnatural. This stigma is harmful to children.
- The idea that this is a slippery slope and soon all sorts of sexual conduct will be recognised, from bestiality to incest to polygamy, is a little silly. This isn’t about sex, it is about a legal relationship between two people. Sodomy laws are already unconstitutional in this country. The gays and lesbians who want to marry are often more conservative than their peers and in some cases more like heterosexual married couples than unmarried LGBT ones. Many of them have children, and often are already in long-term, committed relationships and would have married earlier if it had been a legal option. Many LGBT people for whom marriage is significant are religious. The gay marriage movement is actually quite moderate, and isn’t asking for wild, promiscuous sex. It is asking for recognition in a context to which many married heterosexual people can relate.
I should note that these aren’t the reasons why I personally support the gay marriage movement (those have more to do with equality and rights), but if I learned anything this weekend it’s that two people can vote the same way on a given ballot initiative for entirely different reasons. So, I think that both progressive LGBT folks and allies, and more conservative heterosexual people who don’t give a hoot about gay people but do care about children and families, should vote no on this proposition.