For a couple of months now I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts regarding the same-sex marriage issue, which is appearing AGAIN on the California ballot this November, despite anti-gay-marriage laws having been found illegal by the California Supreme Court in May.

And yes, I do realize that Californians showed their true colors back in 2000 by voting against gay marriage, so I understand why all of the fear-mongering has started up again regarding this issue. I’m sure they too thought they’d put this baby to bed when they won a 61 percent vote in support of marriage being between only a man and a woman. But here we are California, we’ve been given a second chance – and I think there’s a high probability that gay people will be able to rest easy about this issue (at least until next election season rolls around).

But then, I’ve been wrong before.

There are so many things that bother me about this issue. First, there’s the idea that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people shouldn’t be treated as equals in this nation that pretends to put freedom and equality above all else.

Second, I’m seriously bothered by the religious right’s insistence that this is a case of the government forcing them to accept something against their beliefs, when in reality it’s vice versa. The California Supreme Court decision found that the state could not deny civil unions to same-sex couples. This means the state can now issue marriage licenses and will recognize those marriages. HOWEVER, the Supreme Court also said – and this is where my real confusion comes in when people try to say the government is forcing churches to perform gay marriages – that churches in California can still deny marriage to same-sex couples. It’s perfectly legal for them to say no to marrying a same-sex couple. They can keep their hatefulness and fear intact. No problem. Because – BECAUSE – we have a separation of church and state.

And what about those couples who have already said their vows? Are we going to send a government official around, knocking on their doors and asking them for their marriage licenses back? I bet the religious right would love the privilege to be the ones to rip up those “sacred” documents in front of those heathen. What an emotional up and down that will be for those couples. To finally be considered equal and then to have that right just yanked back from you. I can’t imagine something more painful.

Next on my list of qualms are the ads and the propaganda out there making it sound like legalizing gay marriage is akin to destroying all wholesome families and the sanctity of marriage. Can we just get one thing straight right now? The sanctity of marriage died a long, long time ago. The divorce rate in this country is well-above the halfway mark. Maybe the real fear is that the divorce rate will increase tenfold if we allow gays to get married AND divorced along with us straight folks. And wholesome families? I think those died out with Leave it to Beaver. Puh-lease. This, to me, is by far the biggest illusion the Yes on 8 people were able to dream up – well except, of course, the the idea that gays choose their gayness.

I don’t know about you all, but I sure wouldn’t choose a lifestyle that afforded me few rights – not even the right to be hired without discrimination, a law that currently covers race, ethnicity, gender and origin but NOT sexual preference – and seemingly gives others the right to hurl hateful, hurtful words at me as I go about my daily life.

Side story: One of my friends was walking out of a liquor store the other day and was stopped by a man who was explaining to his young son that this here (my friend) was a follower of Sodom. She said she was horrified by the confrontation and didn’t know how to react, especially considering she’s a lesbian and therefore doesn’t practice sodomy. Apparently that was lost on the man, who was so intent on teaching his son how to hate at a young age.

I don’t know, it just seems like a clear choice for me: easy street or tough love? Uh, I’m gonna go with easy street, thanks.

The only other thing I can think of that makes people so eager to constantly fight against gay rights is fear. I think that fear is what this all really comes down to. People are uncomfortable with things they don’t know much about, so instead of learning more or getting to know some LGBT people out there, they’d rather try to quell the supposed threat. I can’t think of any other “good” reason to be so opposed to gay rights.

And, although this post is geared toward Californians because of Proposition 8 on the upcoming ballot, this is a nationwide issue that needs to be addressed. I have questions about the legality and reasoning behind these laws, so I can only imagine how confused the LGBT community must be about all of this. I’m curious to hear the “valid” reasons out there (And please don’t argue God. God is only valid if I believe in your God, which I don’t.) for why we should continue this quest to keep gays down.

And, please, if you are in California pay close attention to the wording of each proposition on the ballot. I know the Obama/McCain spectacle has taken hold of most media outlets, but there are so many more things on your ballot. Be sure you know what you are voting for because that wording is confusing. Semantics could easily lead you astray – for instance, on Prop. 8 if you vote “Yes” you are actually voting against gay marriage, whereas the “No” vote legalizes same-sex marriages. See how they try to trick us? All I’m saying is pay attention.

And please, someone explain to me why this is still an issue in the 21st century.

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REBECCA ADLER is from Sacramento, CA, where she is a grad student in applied linguistics and works as a freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in Jane & Jane, Sacramento Business Journal, and Comstock's Business Magazine, among others. She also keeps a book review blog and can be found on Facebook or Twitter.

2 responses to “The Presidency Isn’t the Only Thing At Stake In November”

  1. Original Comment Thread Below:


    Comment by Autumn
    2008-09-29 16:16:40

    Worthy topic and great argument for your side.

    It still amazes me that people living in my home state of FL are so close-minded and frightened as to vote for a similar state law.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, “People are uncomfortable with things they don’t know much about, so instead of learning more or getting to know some LGBT people out there, they’d rather try to quell the supposed threat.”

    People are socially based creatures. I have relatives who are totally racist, except they have black friends. The stereotypes these people reguarly shout off only seem to apply to strangers. The Other.

    And as for religion … pfft! Most of those “sacred” laws concering sex were added by early century popes. They don’t have anything to do with God or Jesus. Just “The Church”.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Christina
    2008-10-07 07:17:40

    I’m right there with you. From your mouth to God’s ears… hahaha. No, it’s just that this sounds exactly like what I’ve been discussing with my friends. For once I’d like there to be a proper legal debate over this issue with a referee and everything. Everything the Yes on prop 8 people use God in their argument they get flagged and have to come up with something LEGAL to base it on. Honestly, I can’t think of a single LEGAL reason to disallow it. It has no bearing on their “sacred” marriage and is simply a legal union. I feel this more acutely because I very poignantly feel the difference between civil union and a religious sacrament. Since I’m choosing (which by the way is sad that I have that choice and they don’t but we can’t control crazy zealots) to have a non-religious ceremony apparently there is a significant difference to this type of marriage as compared to a church ceremony to my conservative catholic parents. See, they didn’t even realize that they’ve already recognized that civil union is wholly nonreligious and meant for the “godless”. Sounds like the perfect venue for gays and people like me! CAUGHT IN THEIR OWN WEB > HAHAHAHAHA

    PS. the abortion w/ parental consent needs to just go away it’s never gonna happen (we hope) the desperate girls are often choosing abortion because their rigid parents would reject their pregnancy… so this doesn’t really help. \

    I love Palin’s attitude on this : no abortion but I also am against the morning after pill that prevents the need for abortion…. RIDICULOUS!
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Michelle
    2008-09-29 18:12:30

    Frankly, I’m surprised at you. Don’t you know that the minute all gay people marry, all heterosexual marriages will completely come apart? We cannot trust heterosexuals to stay committed in their marriages if we allow other people to have committed relationships. Just the idea that someone else is being faithful and has promised to love someone else forever will cause hordes of hetero men and women to cheat on their spouses.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-09-30 14:12:40

    What can I say? I like the idea of heterosexual couples living in complete chaos. Mwahahaha! (that’s my evil laugh, in case you couldn’t tell)
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Rich Ferguson
    2008-09-30 06:18:49

    Preach, sistah, preach. And thanks for the Proposition tips. Yeah, I gotta admit. I’m definitely one of those people that has to read the Props a few times to try and untangle all the unwieldy phrasing.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-09-30 14:16:13

    I don’t think there’s ANYBODY who understands the propositions the first time. That’s why there are so many commercials and groups out there telling us how we should vote. “Oh, well my local firefighters are voting for this so it must be good.” Erm, how ’bout getting out your dictionary and figuring it out for yourself?

    The ones that really bother me though, are the commercials telling me how to vote without telling me WHAT I’m voting for. What the hell is Prop. 2 anyway? Why should I vote against it just because environmentalists don’t support it? Are they trying to legalize dumping toxic waste or what? Oh, it’s about giving animals space to roam. Who knew?!

    Anywho, thanks for the comment 🙂
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by angela
    2008-09-30 08:28:03

    I think Dolly Parton said it best, that gay marrige should be so because ‘they should have to suffer like the rest of us’. god i love her. and gays. hmmm. i think im still drunk from last night. but still.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Darby Larson
    2008-09-30 09:43:33

    My wife and I were just looking at that ballot last night. It’s a whopper. Abortion is in there too. Definitely an important election.

    Devils advocate:

    Marriage is itself a sanctity rooted in an anti-gay reilgion. Why would a gay couple want to get ‘married’? Why not create a new kind of state acknowledged unity that hetero or homosexuals can engage in secularly?

    Not to say there isn’t gay hatred out there (I’ve known people with small children who have told me matter of fact that if their child turns out to be gay they would disown them), but the gay marriage issue is not completely anti-gay. I can acknowledge wanting to give gays as many rights as heteros, but I can also acknowledge that the default definition of marriage has always been, throughout human history, between a man and a woman. To suddenly change the definition of this incredibly sacred thing is unprecedented and remarkable that it’s been happening at all. So, I don’t know. I’m in favor of changing the definition, but with this issue, I kind of step back a little and don’t get too worked up over it because I don’t have a sense of how a lot of gay people feel about it. I think that if I were gay, I’d be willing to accept that marriage is just this thing that religious heteros do so I’m going to go do my thing and fuck them. Whatever side you are on, the issue is not clearcut and is why it shows up on ballots over and over.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-09-30 14:05:57

    I know about the abortion proposition too. I’d really like to write about that one too but the hate mail I got in the last election was enough to put me off it this time. What kills me about that proposition is that it’s been defeated TWICE already. WHY are we voting for it again?

    As far as why would gays want to get “married” in the first place, it’s something I’m curious about too. I’ve sent out some questionaires to a couple of my gay friends to see if I can get a feel for it. Hopefully I’ll be able to post an interview with one of them before the election. From what they’ve told me, it’s “marriage” is important because it validates their relationships in a way that nothing else can. They don’t necessarily want to have some religious ceremony sancitifying their marriage, but they want their relationships to be considered equal and valid. I think that’s why there were so many huge celebrations when they were finally recognized by the state. Nobody’s saying the churches have to join in and condone it. The state allowing “civil unions” is good enough. The term “marriage” has just become the vernacular word for that state of being. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, thanks for the comment. I appreciate your thoughtful devil’s advocate repsonse.

    Good luck figuring out the rest of the propositions.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by pb
    2008-09-30 10:26:07

    I disagree, Darby. Civil unions, which happen elsewhere, have nothing to do with the religious history of marriage. I was not married in any church, but marriage is a way to protect myself, my husband, my kids, my property, etc…and reap many, many benefits that the government gives to heteros who are married. Every single gay person I know wants to be able to get married so his/her rights are the same (one dude wants to get insurance through his boyfriend’s employer, for instance), wants to ensure their property laws are the same (”family” gets all sorts of tax breaks), and so on and so forth. It’s about protection under the law, not about God. Anyway, just my 2 cents.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Darby Larson
    2008-09-30 12:53:41

    Right. I don’t think you completely disagree with me. It’s about creating a unity that gives all the same rights under the law as marriage. I think it’s difficult to separate religiosity from marrriage, and this is why I question a gay person’s desire to particpate in it. Why not have both: a nonsecular, perhaps exclusionary, ‘marriage’ for those that want it, and some sort of secular, nonexclusionary civil union for those that want it. It gets rid of the gay/not gay distinction and makes it a secular/nonsecular distinction. In Quebec and New Zealand, this already exists, with civil unions being an option to opposite-sex couples.

    Devil’s advocate advocate:

    The problem with this argument is that I’m assuming all gay people are secular. If a gay person is religious, has a foundation in religious history and wants to get ‘married,’ they shouldn’t be denied that when the only alternative is secular.

    Devil’s advocate:

    If all we are talking about here are the rights of gay people under religious doctrines, then aren’t there, like, a shitload of many more severe crimes against gay people under the banner of religion happening in the world? Doesn’t there need to be a massive reform of all religion in order to accommodate the right’s of gay people?

    Devil’s advocate advocate:

    Yes. And gay marriage will be the first.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-09-30 14:11:02

    Darby, I think that’s exactly what they did. The state has said that civil unions are acceptable. The churches don’t have to participate in that. And I don’t think the LGBT community is asking for that. They’re asking for equality as far as benefits and rights are concerned. The problem is that heteros are freaking out about even this small victory…and making people believe that churches will be the next to fall to the “gay marriage” philosophy. I don’t think that’s the case.

    And, I don’t think we’ll ever see another major religious reformation. It seems to actually be going backward in that regard. It’s unfortunate because I think it has put a lot of people off religions of all kinds, even though, really, they can’t all be lumped together.
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    Comment by Emma Ashwood
    2008-09-30 15:29:21

    Rebecca, what a fantastic post.

    I hope the majority of Californians feel the way you do.

    To answer one of the points above: if you’re a gay couple and one of you is in an accident and goes into intensive care, without the label of marriage, you might not be allowed to visit your partner. You don’t count as family, you have no rights. Equally, gay couples cannot always inherit their partner’s property. So if you have an old couple who’ve been living together for years and one dies, the other may not have the protection from tax that would allow them to continue living in their home.

    It’s just all the stuff we married folk take for granted.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Kimberly M. Wetherell
    2008-09-30 19:13:27

    Rebecca – love this.

    I have two friends – lesbians. They were together for thirteen years. Matching rings, bought furniture, owned property.

    Then the unthinkable happened. They “divorced”. And not amicably.

    Friend #1 came into the relationship with enormous family wealth. The apartment and all bank accounts were in her name. And she took them with her when they split. (And for the record, I do completely agree with the reasons behind the break-up. It was the right thing to do. HOWEVER…)

    If they were married, at they very least, there would be some sort of settlement that Friend #2 could fight for. When you figure they met in their early twenties – they spent nearly half a lifetime together. But because there is nothing, she is now homeless and penniless and left without a single legal leg to stand on.

    I love the argument that everyone should get married. I totally agree and I’ll fight tooth and nail for wedded bliss. But I’ll also fight for the right for a fair and just homosexual divorce.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-09-30 20:00:01

    Exactly! See, there’s a perfect argument right there. Without a “marriage” there is no divorce, and where does that leave someone who is the more dependent in a relationship?
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Autumn
    2008-10-01 04:19:34

    I find the talk of “civil unions” vs. “marriage” a bit scary.
    Separate but equal.

    Marriage is about more than the joining of two people in the eyes of God. Otherwise, a whole bunch of us wouldn’t have marriage certificates. We’d have civil union certificates.

    Marriage is, in the secular sense, the corporation two people form to act as a singular entity on the behalf of both of them. John & Jane, Inc. Sort of.

    The idea was to marry someone so you could afford to live in a house, conserve income, pay taxes, and take care of each other using your combined resources.


    All that has nothing to do with God. And neither does a state marriage certificate.

    Separate but equal. Civil unions and marriage.

    Someday the history books will show pictures of this time, and our children (or our children’s children) are going to wonder how we could treat people so differently, why we couldn’t see they were just human beings, same as us.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-10-01 09:28:49

    Wow, I never thought of it that way before. I was just using it in a sense that I thought people would understand that it’s a “state” versus “religious” thing, but I see your point. It’s still marriage in the eyes of the state if it’s a “civil union.” I was thinking it’s just semantics, but wow. Wow. Thanks for that comment. You just blew my mind this morning.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-10-10 19:20:28


    Connecticut legalized gay marriage today and the CT Supreme Court agrees with you:

    “Although marriage and civil unions do embody the same legal rights under our law, they are by no means equal,” Justice Palmer wrote in the majority opinion, joined by Justices Flemming L. Norcott Jr., Joette Katz and Lubbie Harper. “The former is an institution of transcendent historical, cultural and social significance, whereas the latter is not.”
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    Comment by Meg
    2008-10-01 05:02:21

    I’ve honestly never understood what the government’s problem is with same-sex marriage. How does it affect anyone outside the couple getting married? It seems a little hypocritcal of a religious man to teach his son to hate someone just because they’re different…considering the main basis of religion is a haven for ALL. If a priest can forgive a murderer on his deathbed, then why the hell can’t they sanctify the marriage of a man and a man or a woman and a woman? Is that really what the religious right are saying, that it’s perfectly okay to kill another human being but for God’s sake don’t be a homosexual?

    Now I remember why I’m agnostic…and why I love my gay friends…and why I sometimes want to smack a religious zealot across the face with the Bible.

    There isn’t a valid reason for not allowing same sex marriages. Not a single one, which looks suspiciously like a thinly veiled attempt by the government to keep a select population of people from achieving the same status as their heterosexual counterparts.

    Congratulations, America. You’ve come so very far.

    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Megan Leah Power
    2008-10-02 09:37:59

    Lots of good analysis going on here : ) I always thought those “Vote No on Proposition X” ads were to make people wonder what the fuck Proposition X was. Stimulate the voting public’s curiosity. As in, “who cares enough about this proposition to pay for an ad for it?”
    Reply to this comment

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