Monday, November 3, 2008

Why I Support Prop 8 in California

My mom recently sent an email detailing the political and philosophical reasons she has for supporting Prop 8 in California and opposing same-sex marriage. I thought it clearly stated some of the reasons that I support Prop 8 and at least the issues that we should be discussing when addressing same-sex marriage.


-K

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Why I Support Prop 8
By Laurel R.
November 2, 2008

I am definitely supporting Prop 8. At the same time, many of my friends are just as adamantly against Prop 8. I have spent much time thinking about and discussing the topic as I have worked to solidify my views and understand the opposing view points.

I saw the most compelling “no on 8” commercial to date. The commercial featured Diane Feinstein sitting very authoritatively, looking directly into the “faces” of the audience, and saying (paraphrased) that: “Prop 8 isn’t about marriage, children, or personal beliefs. It is about discrimination. We can’t allow discrimination. Vote No on 8.”

In the context of today’s society where anti-discrimination and tolerance are the highest of moral values, one would have to agree with her. If discrimination against same sex couples where the only issue at hand I would feel morally compelled to oppose Pro 8 myself. However, Prop 8 isn’t just about discriminating against gays. It is about the future of marriage and traditional families, about children and re-engineering the society in which they grow up, and it is about discrimination against those who don’t favor same-sex marriage.

I support Prop 8 for a number of reasons:

1) My political/philosophical view on the proper role of government and its right to infringe on personal liberty verses its obligation to prevent discrimination and infringement of liberty

I don’t believe the proper role of government is to prevent discrimination at all costs. It is to preserve the common good by enacting laws that are in the best interest of society as a whole while still preventing any minority from having their rights trampled. Good government should be an appropriate balance between tyranny and anarchy.

On the tyranny extreme, laws are enacted that oppress individual freedom of belief and choice in preference to a single view of what is right or desirable. Tyranny can be in the form of a dictator, a well-meaning but misguided government, or it can come in the form of religious tyranny where the beliefs of one group trample the rights of another.

When the pendulum swings to the anarchy side, society is governed by total self-interest without any external restraint. Anything goes; all individuals have unchecked rights and the results are a breakdown of social structure to the point where ultimately individual rights are again trampled by lawlessness or by the emergence of a group in society powerful enough to again impose their agenda on others, swinging the pendulum back to yet another form of tyranny.

Good government finds a balance between tyranny and anarchy. Its guiding premise is to protect the common good while protecting individual rights as much as possible. For example, in a free world, anyone could drive a car. But in our society, we are selective about who we allow to drive because we believe that eliminating the right of certain people to drive protects the common good or safety of society. Hence people with impaired vision are not allowed to drive. People who are too young are arbitrarily banned from driving or limited in when or who they can drive because of their potential inexperience or immaturity of judgment. The fact is that some people are discriminated against who could actually drive and be accident-free, causing no harm to themselves or society. Discriminative laws treat them differently than the majority of society by limiting their freedom drive in an interest of protecting the public as a whole.

Discrimination is an unavoidable reality of life. Individuals, as well as government, must discriminate to some degree. Governments in particular, discriminate in order to protect the common good. The problem arises from the fact that 1) it is hard to find the perfect balance between protecting individual right to choose and protecting the common good, and 2) society as a whole will never agree on what that perfect balance is.

Perhaps one of the things that frustrates me the most about the entire Prop 8 debate is the simplistic implication that supporters of Prop 8 want to impose their religious and moral beliefs/values on others and arbitrarily discriminate against those who don’t share the same values. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Marriage is a private contract between two people in a committed relationship. For some, it may also be a religious contract. Many people would argue that government has no business regulating marriage at all. However, in our society, the reality is that government makes laws on who can marry and who can not. By definition, those laws are discriminatory. People who are too young can’t marry. Siblings or other people too closely related can’t marry. Why does government intrude or “discriminate” in these matters? Because it is generally believed that those prohibitions are in the best interest of preserving and protecting society. Experience has shown that those laws are beneficial despite the fact that they do limit freedom of choice.

Obviously we live in a society where “government” has the right, and perhaps the obligation to “discriminate”. In a “democratic republic” like ours, government (by definition) is the will or “good judgment” of the majority of the people. The success of a government is predicated on that majority being able to choose wisely both in terms of seeing the long term consequences of a particular decision and in balancing their respect and protection of minority rights. Therefore, the debate about Prop 8 isn’t “does it discriminate against anyone?” The issues are:

1) “Does it unfairly discriminate against a particular group of people?”

2) “If it does discriminate against a particular group of people, is the discrimination necessary or warranted in order to preserve and protect society as a whole?”

3) “Is there a way to find a fair balance between both issues or opposing sides?”

As one vote in that democratic republic, I feel that society is best served by continuing to define marriage as “between and man and a woman”. I further feel that the traditional model of a mother and a father raising children is the ideal way to nurture and raise the next generation. Therefore, while society needs to accommodate the “exceptions” to that model, I believe it should simultaneously do everything it can to promote and support the traditional family as the preferred vehicle for long-term societal well-being.

There are others who genuinely believe that there is no qualitative difference between a homosexual marriage and a heterosexual marriage and that one is no better able to facilitate strong families and child-rearing than the other, and therefore, there is no reasonable grounds for discrimination in marriage. That is the real issue at hand. Time and space don’t permit a careful review of all the sociological evidence or historical precedent for either of those viewpoints, but the seriousness of the issue certainly warrants a careful individual study. Is preserving the traditional view of marriage in the best interest of society or not? If we disagree, let’s disagree on that rather than on the simplistic “never discriminate against the minority” issue.

A comparison has been drawn between the civil rights movement of the 60’s and the gay rights movement of today. There is no comparison since absolutely no social good was served by discriminating between races. That form of discrimination had purely negative consequences on society, resulting in unwarranted abuses. The current issue is based on the firmly held opinion that children are more likely to thrive in a traditional family with a father and mother, and that situation ought to be promoted by society—not out of desire to discriminate against any particular group, but as the best way of fostering a social structure most likely to result in stable and secure children.

The “discrimination” attached to this ballot measure is strictly limited to prohibiting domestic partnerships from being called “marriages”. Consenting adults are still free to choose to have a committed same-gender relationship. They still receive equal protection and insurance benefits under the law. Therefore, Prop 8 provides a fair compromise to both opposing positions by keeping the definition of traditional marriage while protecting the rights and benefits of same-gender couples. There is a big difference between arbitrarily imposing social and religious values on people and allowing our chosen form of self-government to work: namely, that the majority respectively decide what is in the best interest of society and then implement that decision in a way that has the smallest negative impact on the minority group that don’t share that viewpoint. I believe that preserving the traditional definition of marriage in conjunction with the existing domestic partnership laws does that very thing.

Opponents don’t buy into my belief that research and experience show traditional families are best. But, conversely, they haven’t provided enough empirical evidence to convince me that this new “social experiment” of redefining families is harmless either. Given there plainly is not definitive proof available from either side, if we must error one way or another, I’d prefer to error on the side of history and tradition—let’s not redefine marriage based on current social trends, but maintain the traditional definition until more definitive data can be collected. Civilization after civilization have used the traditional models of families (or variations thereon) as the basic structure of society. There is also sufficient evidence to suggest that when homosexual relationships became rampant it was on the “tail end” of that society’s existence, not on the front end.

I also support Prop 8 because I believe it to be the only way to prevent discrimination against those who do value and support traditional marriage. Whether or not Prop 8 passes, same-gender couples, and even open promoters and advocates of homosexuality are not going to be persecuted, prosecuted or jailed. However, I believe that reverse discrimination will occur (and is occurring) on the other end of the spectrum. Even now if you support gay marriage you are “open minded”. If you oppose gay marriage for what ever reason, you are guilty of “hate speech”. The freedom of speech and choice for those who oppose gay marriage will be severely compromised if marriage is legally redefined, which brings me to my second reason for supporting Prop 8:

2) My concern for the reality/long term consequences that I believe will ensue if prop 8 doesn’t pass.

There are a number of consequences I believe will inevitably follow if marriage is redefined to allow for same-sex couples. Children in public schools will be taught about same-sex marriage on an equal or (depending on the teacher) higher footing that traditional marriage. Lawsuits targeting people who choose not to “facilitate” same-gender marriages or activities based on personal moral conviction will increase. Ministers or religious organizations who preach against same-sex marriage or institute policies that don’t give equal rights or resources to homosexuals may be targeted for prosecution or loose their tax-exempt status. The list goes on.

The opposition to Prop 8 claim that those are “untrue scare tactics” and that there are laws that specifically will keep any of those things from happening. I can’t decide if the people who say that are just na├»ve or stupid. There are two compelling arguments that indicate the above concerns are not just scare tactics, but very real concerns:

All of those things have already happened/are happening in states and countries where same-sex marriage is legal. Many of them are already happening in California , in spite of the so-called “legal protections”.

Laws change. Case in point: compare the 1% cost originally imposed for Social Security to the approximately 14% it escalated to down the road—laws change rapidly as the political and social climate change. Closer to the issue: California law clearly defined marriage as between a man and woman (prop 22). Yet it only took one lawsuit making its way to the supreme court to have four judges overturn that law and make same sex marriage legal. Given precedent, the fact that there are laws that ensure clergy will never be forced to violate their religious convictions does not provide much protection when a single lawsuit claiming discrimination would negate that protection in a flash.

Consequence #1: A disintegration of civil liberties for those who oppose same sex-marriage.

Examples:

  • Several mayors of Canadian cities have been taken to Human Rights Tribunals for refusing to declare Gay Pride Days in their cities.
  • A Catholic high school in Ontario was forced by the Ontario Supreme Court to allow a homosexual student to take his boyfriend to the graduation prom, even though the church-run school has strict prohibitions against condoning any kind of homosexual behavior. Note: this was a private school, not a public school.
  • A lesbian couple in the Vancouver arranged to rent a hall for their wedding reception from the Knights of Columbus, a Catholics men's service group. When the group discovered that the marriage was going to be between two women, they cancelled the rental agreement, stating that their religious beliefs prevented them from accommodating a same sex wedding. Even though they paid to reprint the wedding invitations and for the rental of a new hall, the couple still sued the group in the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
  • A couple in Prince Edward Island who operated a bed and breakfast in their own home refused to rent their bedroom to two homosexual men. They were charged and convicted of discrimination, and rather than fight the matter in court, they closed their business down.
  • A gynecologist in Vista , Calif. refused to give his patient in vitro fertilization treatment because she is in a lesbian relationship, claiming that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. The doctor referred the patient to his partner, who agreed to do the treatment. The woman still sued under the state's civil rights act. The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in May 2008 and ruled that he didn’t have the right to refuse treatment in August.
  • A same sex couple in Albuquerque asked a photographer to shoot their commitment ceremony. The photographer declined, saying her Christian beliefs prevented her from sanctioning same-sex unions. The couple sued, and the New Mexico Human Rights Commission found the photographer guilty of discrimination. It ordered her to pay the lesbian couple's legal fees ($6,600).

I have not taken time or space to provide documentation for the above real situations, but have listed them merely to illustrate the types of concerns that exist. Various arguments can be made as to whether or not any of these individuals or groups were right in opposing gays or homosexuality. However, the real issue is not whether they were right or wrong, but whether the law should be able to compel them to participate or not. If society so adamantly believes that all homosexuals should have their freedom of choice respected, doesn’t it hold that reverse discrimination is also wrong: that individuals who oppose homosexuality should have their choice, opinion and freedom of speech protected?

Consequence #2: A wholesale increase in homosexuality because of societal indoctrination.

The argument is made that homosexuality is not a choice, but is something people are born with, and therefore should be respected on equal grounds as heterosexuality. Given the homosexuals I know personally, I would agree that there are some people who naturally have homosexual tendencies. Without arguing over the origin of those tendencies, let’s accept the fact that some people may naturally be inclined that way. Let’s accept the fact that some of those people are going to deal with that reality by being promiscuously homosexual. Others are going to find committed, monogamous homosexual relationships. Still others are going to deal with it by living celibately. Obviously, how homosexuality is handled becomes a moral issue which has nothing to do with Prop 8, and which will always engender disagreement.

Let’s address the social issue: while agreeing that homosexuality tendency is not a choice for some, I would submit that it is a choice for most and that a larger number of people become homosexual after experimentation and/or indoctrination. One of the more interesting pieces of research examined the high number of homosexual students on sports teams. Students were carefully surveyed to determine how many of them identified themselves as homosexual prior to participation on school sports teams. These results were compared to the number of them who were self-proclaimed homosexuals after several years of participation on the sports team. The findings showed that when non-homosexual students participated on a team with even one homosexual student, after several years of close association, many of those non-homosexual students began to identify themselves as having a homosexual identity or tendencies. However, when non-homosexual students participated on a team that didn’t have any other homosexual students, very few, if any, students “became” homosexual. The research concluded that the majority of young people are not naturally born homosexual, but are persuaded to experiment with and then accept that life style.

Holding the view that same-sex marriages are generally a less effective environment than the traditional family for raising children, and believing that homosexuality can be and is being promoted with exponential results, it stands to reason that those of us who share that opinion would be anxious to slow the spread of this trend down as much as possible. An area of greatest concern to supporters of Prop 8 is that fact that with the legalization of gay marriage, homosexuality will be taught in the public school. Again, opponents claim that is not going to happen, but it is pretty easy to look up the education code that requires schools to teach children about marriage and see that it is an inevitability. There is a big difference between teaching children to be tolerant of different viewpoints and indoctrinating them to accept homosexuality as equally acceptable. That indoctrination is already rampant in many schools. Legally defining marriage as being equal to heterosexual marriage would be the nail in the coffin in terms of indoctrination. Lawsuits in Massachusetts in which the courts ruled that parents did not have the right to object to homosexual curriculum and “pull their kids” out illustrates that concern.

Because homosexuality is a moral as well as a social issue, I believe parents should be able to teach their children according to their beliefs. There is never room for abuse or intolerance of alternate lifestyles, but we have passed the point where, under the guise of “open-mindedness”, we as a society are not only allowing it, we are promoting it. I pay government to educate our children. By education I mean reading, writing, math, history, etc. I expect students to be infused with the “less tangible” kinds of education, such as character development, values, analytical reasoning, etc as well. However, I do not pay schools to become a tool for social engineering and change. When I see the hours spent in California classrooms promoting special interest agendas such as gay rights and diversity at the same time anything remotely connected to traditional moral values or religious ideas is prohibited, I have to take a stand. Fair is fair.

My third reason for supporting prop 8:

3) I believe homosexuality and gay marriage also constitute a moral issue as well as a social issue.

I do believe that legalizing gay marriage has moral ramifications as well as the social ramifications discussed above. I personally believe that marriage was defined by God and that families should ideally include a man and a woman. Biological creation supports that conclusion. I have never seen two men or two women naturally produce a child. However, I also believe historical precedent and social theory and research support traditional marriage. I am deeply offended by people who discount the other issues addressed relating to Prop 8 because they happen to correspond to my religious or moral values. I believe that either reason #1 or #2, in the absence of reason #3, is sufficient to validate supporting the issue. Please don’t discount my opinions under the guise of that I am foisting religious values on the world.

If you don’t agree that the traditional definition of marriage has the highest prognosis for producing stable children then let’s agree to disagree on that. If you don’t believe that government has the right to promote those policies believed to foster the public good for society has a whole, let agree to disagree. If you don’t believe that people who are opposed to homosexuality are in more danger of having their rights trampled than those who favor homosexuality then let’s agree to disagree.

My first day out knocking on doors for Prop 8 I had barely mentioned prop 8 to a guy when he said, “I am not voting for prop 8. I am gay”. He then asked what group I was working with, assuming I was against prop 8. When I said, that I was on the “Yes on 8” side, he laughed and said, “then I can’t work for them. I’m on the other team!” We laughed, ‘shook hands’, and went our own ways with mutual respect for each other. I didn’t love and accept him less. He didn’t accept me less. We disagree on the issue. We disagree on our moral perspective. We disagree on the social ramifications. But we left friends. Too bad the entire world doesn’t work that way. It would be nice if we were all free to exercise our right to participate in the government freely. Yes, the majority will generally prevail. Who that majority is may likely change with the times. But in an ideal world they would do it respectfully, considering the minority’s rights and position. There is a big difference between that and using the guise of tolerance, acceptance, fairness, anti-discrimination to push a social agenda.

So, yes, I support Prop 8…and proudly so. I understand and respect those who honestly don’t. I don’t respect those few who really don’t care at all about marriage rights or the future of society, but have a gay social agenda to promote. I likewise don’t respect those whose sole support of Prop 8 is a desire to force their religious beliefs on others. However, I believe that the majority of people on both sides of the line genuinely want what is best for society. I believe it will be a close race, with a somewhat higher probability for the “No on 8” side prevailing over the “Yes on 8.” I will be sad if that happens, however, that is a risk we always take when buy into our concept of government where the majority of people make the decisions.

-Laurel Rogers

3 comments:

Tenise said...

Thanks for posting this. Jerrod and I read it, and we both really liked it. It is so well written, and beautifully expresses in a concise, intelligent way how we both feel. So, thanks again for sharing this.

Chelly said...

Wow~ what a thoughtful, considerate and well studied commentary. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it! I have a friend who is homosexual (by nature not nurture) and it's been so tough to know how to approach this subject with her...or with anyone else for that matter without seeming to be waving a great big cross with the words "intolerant close minded discriminating bigot" emblazoned on it. This expresses how I feel so perfectly. I winced in some places where I knew my friend would take offense~ but if we just stay wincing in corners, our voices will never be heard. If you happen to be pro-life and feel anywhere nearly as strong about the abortion issue, I would LOVE to speak with you and see if you would be willing to help me in writing something that comprehensive for our organization (we are working on building the website now~ www.onelifeonechoice.org) I"m serious too~ you are a fabulous and intelligent writer :o) Thanks again for sharing that~ Would you mind if I emailed that post to a few friends of mine and/or put a link to it on my blog? Let me know~ I think it is very vaulable insight, even though the votes have already been cast. Thanks so much and take care!
~Michelle

K kid said...

Thanks, chelly. You are welcome to email it or put a link to it on your blog. But I didn't write it, my mom did. She is a fantastic writer. If you want to contact her I can give you her email address.