Sunday, November 02, 2008

Prop 8

I've been doing a lot of work up in Orange County, particularly in Santa Ana, the last few weeks. Orange County is one of California's more conservative areas, and the area where I've been working is very heavily Latino (and therefore heavily Catholic). So it's hard to look far there without seeing a "Yes on 8" bumper sticker or yard sign. On a few days, there were groups out on street corners waving pro-8 signs.

It was gratifying today, therefore, to see a group on a corner of Bristol Street near the 405 freeway waving "No on 8" signs -- and even more gratifying to hear the many honks of support they were getting from passing cars. It made me feel a bit better about the prospects for Tuesday.

For those who may not know, Proposition 8 is the measure that would amend California's state constitution to restrict marriage to a union between a man and a woman. It's a response to last spring's decision by the state's Supreme Court that laws against such unions violated the California constitution. Since then, an estimate 16,000 same-sex couples have legally tied the knot in the state. Proposition 8, amongst other thing, would throw them into a legal limbo as the courts try to decide whether their marriages could be nullified retroactively.

Even if I had reservations about gay marriage, I have to say that the Yes-on-8 crowd would probably have driving me to a No vote. The signs they were waving made me crazy. "Yes on 8 = Freedom of Religion." ....uh, what? Something is against your religion, so other people can't do it? Wouldn't that be like someone saying, "I'm Jewish, so you can't eat pork"? There are countries which work that way, but they don't have freedom of religion. No one is going to be forced to marry a member of the same sex -- if doing so is against your religion, then don't do it. Seems simple enough.

Now, if the courts specified that churches had to perform and recognize same-sex marriages, that would be quite another thing. But it doesn't. Churches, AFAIK, are free to set their own standards on what marriages they recognize. But the law ought to be the same for everyone.

"Yes on 8 = Free Speech." Say what? Look, just because same sex marriage might be legal doesn't mean you have to like it -- or that you can't express your disapproval. Smoking cigarettes is legal, but that certainly doesn't stop me from saying I think doing so is idiotic. Pre-marital and extra-marital sex are not illegal, but they are certainly frowned upon by most churches and even many non-religious people; they haven't had to take "Thou shalt not commit adultery" out of the Bible yet.

I recognize that many religious people genuinely feel that same-sex marriage violates God's will. But last I checked, God didn't think much of liars, either. And these tactics are at the very least a distraction from the real issue.

I also strongly feel that for many people, religion is merely the excuse to legitimize their homophobia. I don't see groups out there trying to get laws passed against adultery and fornication -- and Jesus talked about those sins often, while he never mentioned homosexuality in any Gospel I've heard of. (I also know some very religious people who are not at all homophobic, some of whom are genuinely conflicted over the issue of same-sex marriage.)

As for me -- well, as I understand it, at least some churches take the position that simply being gay isn't in itself sinful -- but acting on it is. These people, I think should fully support gay marriage -- since everyone knows that once couples are married, they have much less sex. :)

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