12 November 2008

California's Proposition 8: bad for straight marriage, too

On Slacktivist, lefty evangelical Fred Clark reams the State of California for "un-Californian" behavior and makes a very important point about recently-passed anti-gay-marriage ballot measure Proposition 8:
For all the scaremongering "defense of marriage" language used by supporters of Proposition 8, the passage of this silly measure actually dealt the institution a severe blow. What had been a right is now only a privilege -- a privilege that the state is free to withhold as it sees fit. Yielding that kind of power to the state is not the sort of thing that a free people ought to be doing if they wish to remain a free people.

4 comments:

  1. I'm afraid I have to disagree on that. I'm very much in favor of legalizing gay marriage (well, actually it's more accurate to say that I'd prefer marriage to be taken out of the law books altogether; but, since that's unlikely to happen, it shouldn't be a special right for straights only). However, in this case, marriage has always been a privilege. You need a special license to get married, and the state has always had the right to regulate who may get married. It was only a few decades ago that many states had bans on interracial marriage, for example. And all states still ban marriage between close relatives. While I certainly agree that the requirement that they be of opposite sexes is discriminatory, I don't see how it changes marriage any.

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  2. Point well taken. I think the original post was simply saying that, prior to Prop 8 (and following the aptly-named Loving decision), California state law didn't discriminate as to who could or couldn't receive civil marriage. Hence the state supreme court decision that "legalized" gay marriage; that wasn't new law, that was just the court pointing out the state government that, based on laws on the books, it was obligated to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses. And now, of course, there is a discriminatory law on the books.

    I agree that civil unions for everyone would make more sense, though.

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  3. In fact, I know more than one couple who had considerable difficulty becoming legally married (in California, as it happens) because they had conscientious objections to signing anything that said the State had the authority to "permit" them to get married. In their view, marriage is ordained by God and the State should have nothing to do with it. Civil unions for everyone would, in this view, straighten the situation out nicely -- let the State regulate what it can legitimately regulate, such as registering who is the next of kin and how property is divided, and let God decide who is married.

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  4. I've heard about conscientious objection to state marriage permits - not a decision I have to make yet, but one at the back of my mind.

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