Californians: Just Say No on Proposition 8

As Sam mentioned the other day, there’s a lot more happening on Election Day than just the presidential race. Californians will be voting on Proposition 8, which, if passed, will take away the rights of gays to marry.

Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance had a wonderful essay last week about why this should matter to rational people, so I’ll link to him instead of being redundant. I’ll simply underscore the point that the only reason we do not grant equal rights to gays is because of stubborn religious dogma that has no reason for existing in the present-day. Same-sex marriage will not ruin straight marriage (straights already ruined it all by themselves), and it will not cause the collapse of society (see Massachusetts, and the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Canada, Norway, and Spain).

There’s a video floating around YouTube featuring young people blathering on about how same-sex marriage in California will destroy civilization, so some enterprising Skeptics’ Guide listeners took it upon themselves to make a point by redubbing the voices. I was happy to help them out, so please enjoy the following improved video, and Californians, don’t forget to vote NO on Proposition 8!

YouTube Link (and here’s the original video)

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. The link on the “YouTube Link” hyperlink goes to the original video, not the skeptical one. I accidentally embedded the original on my blog instead of the skeptical one. Yikes!!

  2. I agree with gay marriage.

    But after watching this I’m left wondering which Logical Fallacy is the most prominant: Appeal to Emotion, False Analogy or Straw Man?
    I’m going to to say it again so there’s no confusion.

    I agree with gay marriage

  3. @russellsugden: I can’t answer your question because I don’t think any are prominent, or in fact there at all. It’s a very fair analogy that highlights the bigotry and lack of substance behind anti-gay rights proponents.

  4. russell, you seem to have missed the point. We were simply replacing specific words in the original video. Do you disagree that banning gay marriage is similar in its bigotry to banning interracial marriage?

    If anything we were simply accentuating the logical fallacies in the original video with an example that most people (even those who support prop 8) agree is discriminatory.

  5. Let’s not forget that as recently as 1967 there were states with laws that made it a crime for people of two different races to marry each other (see Loving v. Virgina). And Alabama only had it’s anti-miscegenation law officially repealed disturbingly recently. There is no such thing as “traditional marriage”.

    Also keep in mind that there are organizations that are dumping millions of dollars into California to try to get this thing passed. It wouldn’t hurt to donate to one of the many groups (such as No On 8, which Rebecca has already linked to) that are trying to fight Proposition 8. If you need any more incentive, just remember that Prop 8 is supported by Newt Gingrich, John McCain, The LDS Church, and Focus on the Family. Knowing that my donations would anger these folks keeps my soulless black heart warm at night :)

  6. @russellsugden: The question is: does this really constitute a False Analogy? I don’t believe it does.

    The assertion, fairly clearly stated, is that Prop 8 has roots in discrimination. That is, the property that Prop 8 shares with racism is discrimination.

    Assuming we agree that’s the case (and I think it’s fairly clear), then it’s not a False Analogy.

    This is a very, very important issue for me, and I am one of the people who very strongly supports Prop 8 getting knocked down. …As a first step. Gay marriage should be entirely legal, across the nation, period.

    It’s somewhat less of an issue here in New Mexico, since same-sex couples enjoy a host of rights here that would be denied elsewhere. But if CA votes no on 8, it may well cause NM to take the next step and legalize marriage here.

  7. I have to laugh when I see that the marriage/divorce statistics show that Christians have the same divorce rate as the rest of the population. They claim that letting gays marry will destroy both marriage and civilization? They already have helped do the job on the so-called “sanctity” of marriage themselves. Their religious beliefs have NOT insulated them from divorce at all.

    Besides, no one anywhere has suggested that churches will be forced to marry gays. If it’s a civil ceremony, why should they care? They can just ignore it…Oh, that’s right. They think that they are god’s elect, so they have the right (“god-given? :-) ) to butt into other people’s affairs and make lives miserable.

    I especially think it’s henious that Utah’s Mormon church is intruding in California’s affairs – Since they have their own problems with polygamy, perhaps they should go clean up their affairs before meddling in California’s?

  8. Great video! I think the issues over this particular topic deal with more than just religious dogma though. Sure, religion plays a part, but it’s just the environment that allows already present bigotry to thrive.

    I wrote about it briefly in my own blog a few days ago, but people only follow the parts of the bible (especially the OT) that fits to their pre-concieved notions about the world. That’s why it’s ok to wear mixed fabrics but not to be homosexual.

    I agree that dealing with the manifestations of prejudice (i.e. religion in this context) is a valid strategy, but we should keep in mind that religion itself isn’t necessarilly the problem. It’s good old-fashioned bigotry, plain and simple.

  9. In my experience, the problem is… errr… lack of experience.

    I was pretty staunchly anti-gay in my high school years. It wasn’t until I went to college and actually made friends with more than a few that I realized they were… well… normal people.

    Interestingly, I think the best thing we can do to alleviate discrimination against same-sex couples is being done… we just need more of it, over more time, before the tipping point. What we’re doing is showing people that same-sex couples are normal. We’re doing this through popular media. Movies and television are doing a good job of showing same-sex couples in a (reasonably) positive light… and this is what will turn the tide, eventually. When people who are bigoted now learn to laugh, cry, and otherwise identify with those people they’re now afraid of, they’ll see that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place, and relations will improve. It’s the liberal conspiracy! : )

    Things won’t get to 100%, of course, because there are also those who argue vehemently in the other direction, and if you’re paying more attention to them, they will have the lion’s share of your ability to reason.

    So, yeah, I guess what it boils down to is that internet-bubble term: “mind-share”. I think we’re gaining more of it.

  10. @JRice: I agree with your comment. I have seen recent polls that show young adult evangelicals aren’t driven by fears of gay marriage and abortion in the same way their parents are. These things are slowly becoming non-issues and that terrifies the old style neo-conservatives. They have been able to use these issues to acquire power. If they lose the issue they will lose power.

    I can still remember with absolute clarity when I realized gays were human. I was in junior high school. I still feel deep shame when I think of my views before that time.

  11. Okay, I just watched the video. It was disturbing in the extreme. I understand why you did what you did and it is a good thing but I think I would have been just as disgusted by the unedited video.

  12. @Neutral Milk: Firstly, it’s harder to find the flaws in the arguments supporting something you agree with than something you don’t so I’m glad you agree with me it does use rhetoric (i.e. logical fallacies) to make its point. Secondly, this feels like it’s going to need >5000 words to make myself clear so I’m going to try to be brief

    Though both racism and homophobia are discriminatory they are not the same. There is also an issue around the degree of an individual’s prejudice, e.g. there are many people who while opposed to same sex marriage, because they define it by religous criteria, who are not opposed to homosexual cohibitation/inheritance rights.

    In the UK we went through this whole issue a few years ago and time after time surveys showed the majority of the population were against gay marriage as they saw marriage in religious and not civil terms. As defined by the vast majority of the UK population marriage is believed to be a religious undertaking, in fact its how most people define themselves as Christian: “I’ve been to church twice, my baptism and my wedding, that makes me a christian”

    In the UK instead we have “Civil Partnerships Ceremonies” which differ from Registry Office Weddings in name only in the eyes of the law (and most of the population).

    To an Athiest there is no difference but to a Believer the difference between a Civil Partnership and Marriage is vast.

    But Back to the Video. Essentially it is playing on our emotional response (I had an emotional response to it) to racist discrimination by implying that it is the same as homophobic discrimination. It also implys that being opposed to gay marriage is the same as being opposed to mixed race marriage and without writing a essay about it, I dont think they are the same.

    Opposing mixed race marriage is about racism, whereas opposing gay marriage is about the very definition of what marriage is.

    Using the same methods are the people who support prop 8 is like fighting fire with fire; a certain way of ensuring your house burns down.

    It plays well with the people who already oppose prop 8 but I doubt they’ll change anyone’s mind by essentially saying prop 8 supporters are as bad as racists.

  13. @JRice: It’s a false analogy because its suggests Racism and Homophobia are on a par. While both are really bad, I would say the number of Genocides that have taken place (in the last 100 years alone) makes racism more poisonous than homophobia.

  14. @russellsugden: I think the video does account for the fact that racism and homophobia are different by using one to highlight the ridiculousness of the other. People may be homophobic, but “oh of course not” racist (since that’s been sledgehammered into us for years). So when they see a demonstration that rules like this about gay people are equally ridiculous, they might at least stop and think about it.

  15. @russellsugden: I have to disagree with a lot of what you say in this post. I grew up in Texas. Here in America that means I grew up in a socially and religously conservative area. Racism was very prevalent when I was a kid. One of the things I was told by many people was that interracial marriage should be illegal on religous grounds. That interracial marriage was sinful and an affront to god. Interracial marriage being legal was a violation of their religous beliefs and should be stopped so that their religous beliefs wouldn’t be stepped on. Whenever I hear the current arguments against gay marriage I hear the old arguments against interracial marriage in the back of my mind. These are the exact same arguments being made today as were made against interracial marriage in the past. Many of them seem to be word for word the same as ones I heard growing up.

  16. @russellsugden: I think the point you are overlooking is that this amendment to a state constitution is defining “Marriage” and it is actually extending beyond that.

    Marriage is the only way for people to gain certain rights, including sharing finances and hospital visitation. If this amendment passes it is saying that gay people who are in love don’t deserve the same rights as heterosexual couples who are in love, rights that are granted by the state.

    How is it a false analogy to say that if two people love eachother it shouldn’t matter what color or sex they are, that they should be allowed to share the same rights as anyone else?

    I understand where you are coming from, but I don’t think you understand the severity of this type of amendment.

  17. @Kimbo Jones: Well said. And to further that point, I think russellsugden is making a common mistake in using the “false analogy” accusation. We make analogies between two things that are different in some ways, but alike in other ways. It is only a false analogy if the differences between the two situations include a fundamental difference in what you’re trying to convey.

    So yes, racism is different than homophobia, but both are a form of bigotry with no justification — the point of this video.

  18. In Russell’s defense, I’m glad he was critically-thinking enough to bring it up.

    But, ultimately, what Rebecca says is true: it’s not a False Analogy (FA) if the two things aren’t the same (if that were the case, no analogies would be acceptable arguments). A FA is when the traits in question aren’t shared by both. Here it’s “discrimination”, and they both share it.

    Yes, to different degrees. That’s what makes the analogy a powerful argument: it puts it in a stronger light.

    But, again, cheers to Russell for mentioning it. …and for continuing to defend it in light of broad disagreement. That takes courage.

    But it would be an Appeal to Authority if I said that made you right. ; )

  19. That said, I think I may agree with Russell in saying “It plays well with the people who already oppose prop 8 but I doubt they’ll change anyone’s mind by essentially saying prop 8 supporters are as bad as racists.”

    …Of course, that’s true of many things we do as skeptics. (And many of the things Christians do.)

    That doesn’t make the video any less awesome. ; )

  20. @JRice: That’s a possibility, but I’m not so sure. That charge (preaching to the choir, etc.) can be leveled at anything at all — particularly anything subversive, or any more offbeat than a simple straightforward explanation of why someone should change his mind on a topic. While I agree that it will resonate more with people who are already supporters, it will still have an effect on those who aren’t. There will always be people who need to be reached by different methods, and something like this would probably have worked on me. I find analogies to be very helpful in situations where I’m being exposed to an alternate viewpoint.

  21. @Rebecca: Right. This way they’re not telling, they’re showing. That may be harder for some people to ignore. I know I’m less willing to change my mind if someone is just flat-out telling me to “because I’m wrong”. But if they show me *how* I might be wrong, I’m much more open to change.
    Ditto to JRice though on not trying to “squash” your view, russellsugden…just discussing my POV, which happens to differ from yours.

  22. @JRice: Courage, insanity, those f*cking kids who wont stay off my goddamn lawn, its all in there.

    Race-hate is hatred of a person for who they are whereas homophoiba is hatred of a person for what they do. I believe them to be two distinct forms of hatred (though often seen together) with different causes and solutions.

    However they both do share the common trait of discrimination, which is the point they were trying not make (not that homophobia is the same as racism), so I was wrong to say it was a false analogy. I apologise

  23. I don’t think civilization will fall apart either way. (The same issue has come up with Prop 102 in Arizona – the second attempt to define marriage as between one man and one woman in the Arizona Constitution, even though it is already in the Arizona statutes.)

    First of all, I am of the opinion that marriage should not even be a civil (read: government) institution to begin with. If the goal is to eliminate discrimination, we should eliminate as many of the preferences we give married couples (vs. two single people living together) – such as income tax filing status, health insurance coverage, etc. We already enforce child support obligations regardless of marital status. This is one area where the government just needs to get out.

    Second, as for the current state of the law, having advised homosexual couples, it is worth montioning that any competent individual can exercise their property rights through a will or trust, whether married or not. That is, is the homosexual community spending alot of resources to take advantage of the inheritance (intestacy) statutes? I mean, the intestate statutes are nothing more than a will that the state has written for you if you don’t have one for yourself, and it’s a bad one at that!

    Similarly, you can appoint your lover to make health care decisions for you in a health care directive, and you can designate your lover to handle financial and business affairs in a durable power of attorney or through the use of a trust.

    If you really want to, you can plan for the break-up of the relationship by entering into a domestic partnership agreement (just like a prenuptial or marital property agreement).

    We have alot of our own means to exercise our legal rights, rather than relying on the state do it for us. This point all too often gets lost in these discussions.

  24. California Proposition 8 is about a word. It is not about anyone’s rights, other than the right to have a particular word appear on the official paperwork. Please see:

    For those who don’t care to follow the link, here’s the punchline.

    As of 2007, California affords domestic partnerships all of the same rights and responsibilities as marriages under state law (Cal. Fam. Code §297.5).

    I see nothing in the Prop 8 wording that implies the Domestic Partnership law will be effected.

    What we have is an argument where both sides have openly agreed on the substantive issues. The argument is now over the label to be applied. There is either dishonesty about peoples’ motivations regarding the issue, or there is confusion about what is at stake.

    As always, I want to know if I have my facts wrong, so please inform me if this is the case.

    I am a Hedge

  25. The claims the ‘yes on 8’ groups are making are really over the top. If it fails to pass, of course civilization will fall, and homosexuality will be forced on our children in schools, and churches will lose their tax exept status.

    Of course if they’re paying for ads on prop 8, they disserve to lose their tax exempt status.

  26. I am not in California, so I have not had intense exposure to the debate. What has penetrated into my area has been misleading on both sides, with one exception. Interestingly, the one exception is a christian apologetics radio program that I listen to via podcast. The host of the program explained that the entire issue comes down to the word. He then proceeded to explain why he thinks the word is so important. I think the proponents of gay marriage should have the same level of honesty in presenting their case. It is not about any substantive rights or privileges. It is about a word and what that word means.

    Proponents of gay marriage in California have won. They now appear to be intent upon discarding their victory. If their goal is not for homosexual couples to have the same rights under the law as heterosexual couples, then what is the goal?

    I am a Hedge

  27. Personally I think that any 2 adults of consenting age and sound mind should be able to enjoy the protection of the state, regardless of age, race, religion, sex, anything else I’ve missed, but I wonder if when we oppose religious groups on these sorts of issues, homophobia, racism etc… are we denying them the rope they need to hang themselves.

    If churches, or any other institution, were allowed to be openly racist and homophobic and misogynistic and any other negative value you can think of, wouldn’t it be easier to sideline them and allow them to die a quiet death?

    I think we’d be better off trying to remove the tax exempt status and expose hypocrisy than force people to behave decently to each other. I guess I believe the for the most part people are honest and decent and if they’re being hateful its more due to ignorance than evil.

  28. Hedge:

    Respect is reason enough.

    That said, there are a host of legal reasons. To summarize: federal recognition for taxation, having their right extended to other states, Social Security, sick leave to care for ailing partner, tax breaks, veterans benefits and insurance breaks. Also, less room for legal challenge: all of the rights provided by domestic partnerships have trouble standing up in court.

  29. @JRice:

    Respect is reason enough.

    Is there such a thing as involuntary respect? Would anyone that would respect a gay marriage withhold such respect from a domestic partnership? Would anyone that would not respect a domestic partnership find more respect for the same relationship if compelled to call it a marriage?

    The list of other reasons you provide look to be all federal issues, or issues to be decided by other States. Nothing prevents the State legislature of, say, Utah from failing to recognize a California same-sex marriage as a legitimate marriage (I think the federal Defense of Marriage Act supports this).

    From the current California law (California Family Code Section 297.5), which will not be altered regardless of the outcome of Prop 8:

    (a) Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights,
    protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same
    responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they
    derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules,
    government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources
    of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.

    The substantive issues have been decided, and have been decided in favor of gay marriage in all-but-name. This is being jeopardized by tempting public backlash.

    At Appomattox, where Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate army to end the US Civil war, Ulysses S. Grant allowed Lee to leave with his sword. It was a symbolic act which shows Grant’s strength, not his weakness. This simple act, an act allowing the loser to maintain some dignity, probably helped ease the following years. (The soldiers were also allowed to keep their horses, which certainly helped as well.)

    If the issue is equal treatment, then the pro-gay marriage side has won. They should show some graciousness in victory.

    I am a Hedge

  30. Dude, do you even know what Prop 8 IS?

    “Proposition 8 is an initiative measure on the 2008 California General Election ballot titled Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. If passed, the proposition would “change the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.” A new section would be added stating “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

    Can we stop arguing now?

  31. That wasn’t terribly clear. :) What I meant was: they already HAVE the right to marry, this prop wants to take it away.

    It has nothing to do with “gracious victory”.

  32. @JRice:

    Can we stop arguing now?

    Sure. Just acknowledge I’m right, you’re wrong, and agree to do my laundry for a week. I’ll let yo keep your sword, though.

    I think I know what Prop 8 is. As you say, it would amend the California State Constitution to include the words:

    Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

    That’s all it will do. It would not alter the Domestic Partnership law I cited above. The only effect it will have is to remove the label “marriage”.

    What I meant was: they already HAVE the right to marry, this prop wants to take it away.

    What I am attempting to do is explain that this is not true. The proposition will not take away any rights or privileges. It will only take away the word commonly associated with those rights and privileges. The opponents of gay marriage have lost. California law specifically grants domestic partnerships all rights and privileges of marriage. They now, like a child in a playground, want to take their ball and stomp off. The problem with their plan is that their ball is not needed to play the game. It is difficult to understand why anyone wants to lower themselves to this level of childish bickering (I mean the Proposition itself, not our childish bickering).

    I only bother to discuss it because I don’t think most people understand how insignificant the issue really is. It is discussed as though it will actually impact the rights and privileges of people. It will not.

    I am a Hedge

  33. @Im a Hedge: From what I have researched, you are absolutely right in the case of California. This proposition is intended to overturn the California Supreme Court ruling of several months ago, which was essentially a question of semantics – i.e., being able to use the word “marriage” on a certificate issued by the state … I appreciate your bringing perspective to the issue.

  34. Even if it were just a matter of semantics, I think these semantics are important. Isn’t it also just semantics to say that African Americans have to drink out of a different water fountain? It’s the same water so what does it matter?

  35. @Divshappyhour:

    I am not a lawyer, and I understand that laws can be written and interpreted to mean things that appear to completely conflict with the words in the law. With that caveat, all I can do is again refer you to the California law (quoted above) that states very plainly that domestic partnerships in California are the legal equivalent of marriage. The things you cite, as with the list provided earlier by JRice, appear to be matters of Federal law. If the Federal government accepts individual States’ judgement regarding what is and is not marriage, then they should accept California’s Domestic Parters as the legal equivalent of married spouses, because California has declared them to be so.

    The page you linked to indicates that the Federal government does not consider Domestic Partnerships to be the equivalent of marriage. Does the Federal government recognize same-sex marriages (for example, in Massachusetts) to be marriages for purposes of Federal law?

    I am a Hedge

  36. @Detroitus:

    Isn’t it also just semantics to say that African Americans have to drink out of a different water fountain?

    No, that isn’t just semantics. The analogy would be if everyone drank from the same water fountain, but when whites use it it’s called a “water fountain” and when blacks use it it’s called a “bubbler” (that’s yankee for “water fountain”).

    It’s perfectly valid to think the semantics are important. Do you think the millions of dollars spent on Prop 8 would have been spent if everyone was honest about it being a semantic question?

    I am a Hedge

  37. @JRice:

    JRice, you are my hero for today. I can think of two ways to interpret your comment:

    1. You considered the arguments and/or conducted additional research, and determined that you had been mistaken. Then you acknowledged it.

    2. You wanted to end the conversation (for whatever reason – maybe you decided I am a homophobic bastard not worth the effort), and choose to do so via that comment, regardless of the impression it may give.

    Either of these is worthy of respect.

    I am a Hedge

  38. @Im a Hedge:

    Currently, I am trying to filter through a lot of legal jargon so do not think that I am avoiding your question, I’m simply trying to find the best info available about it before I presented it to you. Mainly this has to do with the Defense of Marriage Act. Anyhow, if it is a matter of semantics, as you say it is, then why is it so wrong to call the marriage a marriage? Why pass a law saying that you can only call it a Domestic Partnership. Why not call a spade a spade?

  39. @Divshappyhour:

    Anyhow, if it is a matter of semantics, as you say it is, then why is it so wrong to call the marriage a marriage? Why pass a law saying that you can only call it a Domestic Partnership. Why not call a spade a spade?

    I completely agree.

    I am a Hedge

  40. @JRice and @Detroitus and @Divshappyhour:

    Under the Defense of Marriage Act, neither the California Supreme Court nor the voters of California (through Prop 8 ) can do anything to change federal law or the law of other states, or the benefits offered by those governments. So in response to the arguments above, California has absolutely no control over whether you get Social Security benefits or get to file married jointly on your federal income tax return. All California can do is define its own legal rights for its own residents.

    So what has California accomplished if “domestic partners” already had the same rights as “married couples” with respect to California law? In my opinion, for which I originally agreed with Hedge, it is merely a matter of semantics.

    As for the analogy to institutional racism, with respect to California law, nobody is funding heterosexual schools with a lot more money than homosexual schools and then arguing “separate=equal,” as was the case with racial segregation before 1954/1964. With respect to California law, domestic partners receive the same benefits as married couples, and they can draft wills, health care directives, and powers of attorney to exercise their property and statutory rights in favor of their partners. With all due respect, the institutional discrimination that was faced by African-Americans is not comparable.

    That said, is it the job of government to make sure that one sector of society gets to use a particular word? This is nothing more than a culture war. Do you think having government shove a definition of “marriage” down the throats of those on the right will win hearts and minds? I would like to see my tax dollars spent on endeavors other than going down that particular slipperly slope, whichever side of the slope we are talking about – left or right.

  41. First, let me say that I find the conversation really interesting. It’s a good point to bring up that we are, in a way, talking about semantics. However, I do think it’s a mistake to label it as “just semantics.”

    What it comes down to is that right now, California’s laws are equal in terms of allowing anyone to marry and in terms of not constricting the definition of “marriage.” Proposition 8 is an unnecessary addition that would force one group’s definition of marriage on the rest of the population instead of the government butting out. My personal opinion is that it is not the government’s place to dictate who can and cannot get married — the government may set terms for contracts, and then leave it up to those who are performing the ceremony (or signing the papers) to say whether or not this qualifies as a marriage.

    So, why worry over this? If Prop 8 was to banish the word “marriage” from any kind of government contract, that would be just fine. Instead, it specifically seeks to have the government define what is and is not a marriage, and that definition will be specifically to the favor of straights. What if it defined marriage as only that between two members of the same sex? It is not just a matter of semantics — it is a matter of obvious discrimination. It is the thin side of the wedge, a wedge being pushed by fundamentalists and bigots who would gladly purge gays of their civil rights if given the opportunity. It is “teaching the controversy,” in creationism-speak. It is a step backward. Voting no on Prop 8 is not about “winning hearts and minds” by forcing bigots to accept that gays can get married — it’s about putting our collective foot down against intolerance and moving forward to a time when it isn’t an issue. Eventually there will be no difference between two men marrying and a man and woman marrying. The bigots will slowly die off while retreating to other battles, and their wedges will get thinner and thinner.

  42. Ditto on government butting out. I would be happy to see a separation of family and State. We don’t have that, so we have to deal with these annoying issues. If you consider it strategically, someone blundered in forcing the issue to be specifically about “marriage”. Same-sex marriage is legal in California in all-but-name. Someone (I don’t know if this is Gavin Newsom’s fault or someone else’s) choose to push the issue. This ended in the CA Supreme Court decision essentially declaring marriage, including the label, is a Constitutional right. This is the Court deciding the definition of a word, which is a bit beyond their scope. In a dissenting opinion, one of the Justices wrote:

    California statutes already recognize same-sex unions and grant them all the substantive legal rights this state can bestow. If there is to be a further sea change in the social and legal understanding of marriage itself, that evolution should occur by similar democratic means. The majority forecloses this ordinary democratic process, and, in doing so, oversteps its authority.

    I find this to be sensible. The Court has forced a Constitutional amendment as the only option available to same-sex marriage opponents. So we have this farce of amending a Constitution to define a word – and do nothing else. What if the Supreme Court had decided otherwise? What if the will of the legislature was allowed to stand for the time being? Consider the comment by JRice earlier in this thread (@JRice), which I think is a common experience:

    I was pretty staunchly anti-gay in my high school years. It wasn’t until I went to college and actually made friends with more than a few that I realized they were… well… normal people.

    Interestingly, I think the best thing we can do to alleviate discrimination against same-sex couples is being done… we just need more of it, over more time, before the tipping point. What we’re doing is showing people that same-sex couples are normal.

    If homosexual couples continued to take advantage of California’s Domestic Partnership law, there would come a point where enough people would know someone who was in a same-sex marriage, but it was called something else. People would realize that it’s not sensible for it to be called something else. There would develop sufficient popular support to have the legislature overturn their previous decision, and allow the label of “marriage” to be applied to those relationships. By pushing the issue in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons, there is a public backlash. Now the State Constitution may be amended, making it much more difficult in the future to get the word “marriage” applied to same-sex couples.

    The substance of the issue has already been decided in favor of same-sex couples. This is now in jeopardy. A well-financed media campaign has been persuading people of the evils of such unions. If people learn than Prop 8 only involves the word, they will want to see the Domestic Partnership law rolled back.

    I see this issue having little possible gain for same-sex couples, and significant risk for them to loose legal rights and privileges they currently enjoy.

    On top of this, there is a lack of fact-based arguments by either side of the issue. It is presented as either the destruction of modern civilization if Prop 8 fails, or open season on gays if it passes. Neither of which are true.

    The pro-Prop 8 side should explain why the word is so important. The anti-Prop 8 side should explain why the word is so important. Instead, we seem to have some kind of shadow debate going on, where nobody want to talk about the real issue. If the word matters, explain why. If the word does not matter, then Proposition 8 is not important.

    I am a Hedge

  43. Wikipedia:

    In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. The Act marked the first time that a state legislature had approved a bill authorizing same-sex marriage without a court order. Schwarzenegger press secretary Margita Thompson said, “[t]he governor believes the matter should be determined not by legislative action – which would be unconstitutional – but by court decision or another vote of the people of our state.”

    In 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger again vetoed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

    …Someone wanted the courts to decide. Probably someone who has, hypocritically, used the phrase “legislating from the bench”.


    I don’t believe what the court did was “declare marriage, including the label, is a Constitutional right.” I think what it did was declare “it is unconstitutional to discriminate.”

    I think that is what Prop 8 is proposing.

    EVEN if it’s just discriminating about a single word. That’s discrimination.

    I agree with TSM, though, that both sides are over-using the Slippery Slope fallacy.

    I agree with Hedge that it’s just a word.

    I agree with Rebecca that this is discrimination.

    [drunken sob]

    …Man, I love you guys! No, really. I love you guys! [sniff]

  44. @Im a Hedge: I can give you one example of how a ‘domestic partnership’ is different from a marriage in CA.

    ‘Domestic partner’ had to go to the emergency room and he was not allowed to accompany him, simply because they weren’t ‘married’. I know it may seem like a pretty thin example, but I hear stories of that type of thing happening all the time. Since marriage was legalized in CA between same-sex couples, it hasn’t been an issue for those who are legally married(as far as I know).

    Private institutions can show special consideration for married couples while not extending that consideration to ‘domestic partners’. In my mind this allows open, legal prejudice against gay couples. Now, I haven’t looked into the letter of the law on that, so please let me know if I’m wrong, but this is one of the more substantial complaints that I’ve heard from the ‘anti-8’ folks.

  45. @Rebecca: Well, at least we agree that the government should not be involved in defining marriage at all – much less choosing to treat single people different than married people or domestic partners (whether homosexual or heterosexual).

    But I think that’s where our agreement ends.

    First of all, I do not equate this issue with “teaching the controversy” and creationism. The definition of “marriage” does not lend itself to the scientific method and logical reasoning. It is a social, cultural, religious/spiritual, and unfortunately, legal institution. The only thing an institution has to define it is history, and with all due respect, history is not on your side on this one, Rebecca. (e.g., The first country to legally recognize “marriage” for same-sex couples was the Netherlands – only 7 years ago.) Thus, with all due respect to everybody, although I may not agree with them, I do not equate those who refuse to look at “marriage” between members of the same sex with those who pass off creationism as science.

    Second, in light of this history, why does the pro-Prop 8 side have the burden of proof on this? Put another way, how is the California Supreme Court (a non-elected body) telling all the state agencies what “marriage” is (the recent Lockyer decision that prompted Prop 8 ) any less of a “forc[ing of] one group’s definition of marriage on the rest of the population instead of the government butting out”? Is it because the California Supreme Court (one branch of the government, an unelected one) and the City of San Francisco (another branch of government) happened to agree with you?

    Third, in light of the fact that California law cannot change what the federal government or the other states do and California treats “domestic partnerships” the same as “marriages”, I am a bit offended and perplexed by the comparisons to the civil rights movements of the 1960s. Nobody is stopping a homosexual from going to their church and marrying. (I went to such a marriage two years ago.) Do we deny homosexuals the right to vote? Do we deny homosexuals the right to an effectively equal education? Or do we simply deny them the right to the word “marriage” instead of “domestic partnership” on a piece of paper.

    Fourth, before everybody jumps on me, I would vote “no” on Proposition 102 in Arizona – mainly, because that proposition has no effect on the current state of the law and is a waste of taxpayer money to even be considering. (California is not the only state.) And if you want to end the real discrimination – against homosexual and heterosexual couples – and repeal The Defense of Marriage Act – which is the real legal source of discrimination – I will sign up for that. But I won’t support the use of taxpayer money to make people feel better about the word they have on their piece of paper.

  46. @Detroitus:A domestic partner can also execute a health care power of attorney allowing their partner to not only go to the emergency room with him/her, but to make all their health care decisions by proxy.

    As for private companies discriminating, my non-married significant other and I are in the exact same boat. This begs the question: Why should marriage be encouraged by the state or private parties at all? It is between the man and the woman.

  47. @TheSkepticalMale: In a way the California Supreme Court is an elected body. A justice is initially appointed but after that they have to undergo a retention vote. So the electorate can vote any justice out of office. No special election is necessary, it is part of the ballot on a periodic basis.

  48. @TheSkepticalMale: I agree with that completely. But that’s not the issue. The issue is whether same-sex couples should be treating differently than male-female couples. I maintain that they shouldn’t and that legal mandates encouraging it are wrong in whatever form they take.

  49. @Detroitus:

    ‘Domestic partner’ had to go to the emergency room and he was not allowed to accompany him, simply because they weren’t ‘married’.

    According to my non-lawyer (he says with pride) understanding of the Domestic Partner law, that was not a legally-justified action. That assumes there is some legal basis for requiring emergency room admittance to spouses. The law seems to pretty definitively equate “Domestic Partner” with “spouse”.

    Private institutions can show special consideration for married couples while not extending that consideration to ‘domestic partners’.

    That’s a different issue. The propriety of that would not be altered in the least by the details of a legal agreement between the couple. I understand I hold a minority opinion on this.

    I am a Hedge

  50. @Im a Hedge:

    that was not a legally-justified action

    Sure. I think my main point is that, legality aside, words do matter. The word ‘marriage’ carries a certain social connotation that ‘domestic partner’ does not. It would be like earning a PhD and being entitled to everything that goes along with that, except you aren’t allowed to use the title, ‘Dr'(I know it’s a bad analogy). Sure it’s only a word, but words do still matter in our society.

  51. @JRice:
    Having glanced into the history of it a bit, it’s been a back-and-forth for many years. For each point raised by one side, the opposing side can raise a prior issue. It seems that the substance of the issue has been settled with the Domestic Partnership law.

    Here’s the core issue as I see it:

    gay marriage proponent: “Homosexual couples should have all the legal rights and privileges the heterosexual couples have.”

    gay marriage opponent: “No they shouldn’t.”

    gay marriage proponent: “Yes they should.”

    gay marriage opponent: “Well, alright, but just don’t call it “marriage”.”

    I would council the proponent to accept the deal on those terms, and let them have their precious word.

    I am a Hedge

  52. I have to admit, I’m pretty confused about why you guys (TSM and Hedge) are wasting so much breath about this. What is it about this that offends you enough to be arguing about Prop 8?

    I understand you’re both hands-off libertarian types… is that really the issue? Is it worthwhile to argue against a portion of the population which you both seem to otherwise support? (It seems pretty important to them.) I mean, it sounds like either of you would vote against Prop 8 in the first place. Right?

    I think I see what you’re both saying, but I don’t see why it’s so important to either of you to say it. …NOT to suggest your opinions aren’t worthwhile–they are–it’s just that… well… you both seem to be taking a little flack (just a little) for saying it, and I’m curious as to why it’s important.

    Is it because some of their arguments went too far for your taste? Was something about this video off-putting to you? Or is it that some of us keep misunderstanding what it is you’re trying to say?

    Help me out here. Please clarify.

  53. @Gabrielbrawley: But the California Supreme Court is much less a product of the democratic process than a proposition put to the voters, no? My point was this: How is the California Supreme Court cramming a definition of “marriage” down the state’s throat any different than Prop 8 cramming a different definition down the state’s throats?

  54. @Detroitus: I hear that a lot as well (I work in the health care system) and I think that’s a problem with health care and hospitals and less with what marriage is. I know this is tangential and not all your point, but I’m going to ramble a bit anyway. Hospitals themselves need to realize that people have more close relationships than just “spouse” and “family”. If I’m unmarried with no family, my best friend (who may be my only support system) should be able to visit me in ICU if we want. Likewise, my partner should be able to visit me as well. I find the whole business of “family only” a bit antiquated overall.

    Derailment over. Continue. :)

  55. @TheSkepticalMale: Fair enough, although this person may not want their partner as their alternate decision maker and it’s not acceptable to have to put themselves in a potentially awkward legal position just to get visitation rights in the hospital.

  56. @Detroitus:

    Words matter. I think your example is among the best arguments I have encountered opposing Prop 8 (although I think Divshappyhour was closer to the best argument). The main reason for this is that you are arguing the actual issue, which I don’t see happening much in this case.

    Would you accept the deal offered by my “gay marriage opponent” in my previous comment, even given the emergency room issue?

    (I don’t think your analogy was bad. Although, I might have ulterior motives for lowering the bar on analogy quality around here.)

    I am a Hedge

  57. @JRice: Actually, I think he was pointing out that we shouldn’t agree with one and not the other, just because we happen to agree with the outcome. The gov’t should just stay out of this particular matter. (Correct me if I’m wrong, TSM)

  58. @JRice: I’m glad you asked …

    You referred to Prop 8 seeking “to take away what has already been granted” … Well, what was granted was granted by the California Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, five months ago … In the guise of “interpreting” the law, it crammed a definition of “marriage” down the state’s throat – i.e., what the City of San Francisco defines as “marriage” is what the whole state of California should use … The fact that I happen to agree with the outcome does not make me feel good about the process, because the next time that a court decides to read-into the constitution a “right” that is not in the text, I may very well not agree with it … In my opinion (scewed by my law degree of course), we have a government where the vast majority of laws are supposed to be created by the legislative process, and the Constitution should include only those rights that we must have to make the democratic and judicial process function effectively. With all due respect, I do not place the right of a homosexual couple to use the term “marriage” on a certificate (instead of the more offensive term “domestic partnership”) – when the practical rights are the same under California law anyway – to be up there with the right to free speech. I don’t think our functioning democracy will fall apart if that right doesn’t exist. So what’s the harm? Constitutional scholars refer to this judicial expansion of “constitutional rights” as the “rubber-glove” effect – i.e., when you stretch the glove beyond its intended size too often, it becomes useless. In that sense, I do care.

    Now you have Prop 8 (like Prop 102 in my own state), where taxpayer money is being used to define something that should not even be dealt with by the government in the first place.

    Once again, I may not care about the result this time, but I am disturbed by the process by which this is all taking place. We have the worst recession in 30 years. We have state revenues declinining precipitously, resulting in real damage to poor people. And time and energy is being spent by the government and media on the use of words that hurt people’s feelings – from the left and the right. That is my problem with all of this.

  59. @Im a Hedge:

    Would you accept the deal offered by my “gay marriage opponent” in my previous comment, even given the emergency room issue?

    I would accept it only under the condition that the law were changed to not mention the word ‘marriage’ at all. If the word has no legal meaning then there is no legal issue and people can iron out the social implications themselves. But since the law does define marriage, it is not acceptable to limit that definition in such a way as to deny rights (even if it IS only the right to a name) to certain citizens based on their sexual preference.

  60. @Kimbo Jones: I understand what you are saying – maybe the injured partner would want the other partner to be able to visit, but not necessarily grant rights to make health care decisions. That said, you could put in your health care directives who you want to have “visitation rights,” and in my experience (as an estate planning attorney), I cannot imagine that the hospital would not honor it.

    However, note that the state is not defining who can and cannot visit so much as internal hospital policies. At least, that is the case in my state. I don’t know if there is a statute defining “visitation rights” in California.

  61. I will say one more thing: “real” issue aside (pesky reality!), one interesting thing that Props 8 and 102 (and whatever it is in Florida) have brought to light is that there really is a large social divide on the issue here.

    And I think people have let that divide fuel their support/opposition to these Propositions. I was certainly guilty of that before I started doing Hedge’s laundry.

    This is the next step a long, ugly discussion that will probably not be resolved for another decade. In a sense, I guess it’s the ultimate Straw Man: let’s niggle about a word, when what we really want to say is you suck. Literally. And that grosses us out.

    Okay, that description might have been uncalled for.

  62. @Detroitus: I agree. There should be no distinction for those who are “married” in defining rights and benefits. For example, there should be no “married joint” income tax filing status – thereby benefiting the vast majority of married couples. There should be no community property (in the nine states that have community property) …

    But if we are not going to go that far and we are going to continue to discriminate between the married and unmarried, then I believe we need to dismantle The Defense of Marriage Act and allow the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution to work as it was intended – i.e., if the people of California, Massachusetts, or Connecticut by legislative process chooses to recognize same-sex “marriage” and I live in California long enough to avail myself of that right, then the feds should recognize it and the other states should have to recognize it too.

  63. @JRice:

    I have to admit, I’m pretty confused about why you guys (TSM and Hedge) are wasting so much breath about this. What is it about this that offends you enough to be arguing about Prop 8?

    Understandable exasperation, JRice. The thing that interests me is not so much the issue itself, but a meta-issue of which this is a good example. It’s a shadow argument. I don’t believe for a moment that either the pro- or anti- gay marriage crowds give a hoot about the word. But this Proposition is entirely about the word. Everyone carries on having the standard argument, which isn’t at issue here. That’s why I have been so insistent the the substantive issue has been decided. There’s something else going on here, and people are using “gay marriage” and “Prop 8” as a front.

    I’m interested in a logical thought process to solve problems and decide issues. This issue (gay marriage) has reached a point that is difficult for me to comprehend. One side argues for rights and equality, which are being granted. The other side argues for a word, for which the concept has already been sacrificed. Surely you’ve heard someone use the “just don’t call it ‘marriage’ line”? Do you wonder why? I do. It’s childish. It’s not logical. Likewise, when I learn that everything but the name has been granted in California, it seems odd to continue to fight. Who keeps fighting after victory has been achieved? I want to understand what’s going on in seemingly illogical discussions, and this is a fine example of one (not this thread, the larger debate – you all kick butt).

    The initial post here doesn’t address the actual issue. The video in this post is cute, but all it really does is show that the pro-Prop 8 side has stupid arguments. It doesn’t provide any good anti-Prop 8 arguments. I was surprised when I learned about the Domestic Partnership law in California, but I hadn’t paid much attention to the issue before that. But when people go to all the trouble of making videos, and parodies of videos, and they don’t know, or don’t acknowledge, that it’s a non-issue…that makes me curious. So I’ve been probing to try to understand what’s going on.

    I typically find the topic to be uninteresting. But the meta-issue is sufficiently interesting to cause me to spend far too much time thinking about it today.

    I am a Hedge

  64. @TheSkepticalMale: Suppose I have a medical condition such that I cannot communicate those preferences…

    Anyway, that is what I was saying (though not explicitly). The argument that gay people cannot visit in hospitals is not a good argument because that comes down to hospital policy. And that’s its own can of worms.

    And just to get myself back on track again (I’m such a dirty derailer), my view on this particular vote is that the vote is here, so the arguments are moot at this point as to whether or not it’s appropriate.

  65. @Detroitus: Yes, a proposition is arguably a legislative process, and in that sense, it should have more “weight” than a court decision (in my opinion, at least) … But I also agree with you (at least I think) that the government (by proposition or otherwise) should not even be in this area and should not even be discriminating between the “married” and non-married.

  66. @Im a Hedge: I don’t know… It seems to me that the anti-8 side only needs one argument. The Prop 8 definition of marriage is prejudiced against gay couples. That’s pretty much what everyone is saying and even the pro-8 campaign exemplifies the thinly vailed prejudice. At least that’s how I see it.

  67. @Kimbo Jones: You know, there’s nothing more offensive than telling a lawyer that he is moot, dirty derailer. :) … That said, I agree with you … The only piece of advice I have (for everybody) is to do health care directives so that those wishes are known before the time comes. In my state, you can dowload the forms from the Attorney General, so there’s just no excuse for doing nothing.

  68. @TheSkepticalMale:
    One of the big problems I have with “will of the people” arguments in regards to judicial decisions is that it completely disregards one of the defining roles the judiciary plays in our government. The Judicial Branch’s job is to interpret the law and decide whether or not a bill is constitutional. Even if a law boasts broad public support, it can still be struck down as illegal. In that way, the courts act as a check against tyranny by the majority.

    What many supporters of Prop 8 in particular and ballot initiatives in general fail to realize is that they are essentially legislating from the ballot box. A passed ballot initiative carries the same weight of law as a bill passed by the state senate. And like a bill passed by the state legislature, that initiative is subject to judicial review.

    When people decry the 4-3 decision granting marriage rights to homosexuals as “defying the will of the people,” what they’re really saying is “We want all the power of the legislature, but none of the checks and balances.”

    I mean, think of how flipping HARD it is to pass a constitutional amendment at the federal level. And yet here in California, all it takes is 51% of the people who turn out to vote on November 4th? Even if someone didn’t agree with gay marriage, just the thought of how easy it is to change the California constitution should give them pause.

  69. <argument onblur=”duck();roll();”>One of the selling points being made in the “it’s not just a word” department is that there’s thousands of dollars of legal fees involved in getting all the sundry documentation completed for domestic partnership (including the stuff TSMmentions). IANAL. Is this argument grounded in fact? If so, is it a legitimate argument?</argument>

  70. @TheSkepticalMale: Muahahaha…

    Agreed! That is a huge frustration for patients/clients and families in the health care system. Don’t wait until you have, like, aphasia or something and can’t communicate before you set your affairs in order! Many people end up doing their property/funeral will and forget to do the “living will” (who has PoA, do you want a DNR, etc).

    Wow, that derailment matured into a fine PSA-like tangent. Sorry, guys. :) I’m done for reals now. I promise.

  71. @JRice: Well, I have two comments to that. First, you don’t necessarily have to incur legal fees to do a will or health care directives. (Did I just say that? I think I could be disbarred.)

    Second, the desire not to follow what the state has written for your default will (intestate statutes) or has appointed to make your health care decisions (surrogate statutes) is not unique to homosexual couples.

    For example, I do not want life-sustaining procedures to be used if I am subject to an irreversible coma or persistent vegatative state (Rebecca might argue that I already am). However, if I rely on the statute, my parents would be my health care surrogates and first in line to be my guardians, and they would never honor that decision. Thus, I must do health care directives to make my wishes enforceable. And it has nothing to do with me being in a relationship or not, or being heterosexual or homosexual.

  72. @Detroitus:

    It seems to me that the anti-8 side only needs one argument.

    I agree. The thing I find interesting is that I do not see that one argument being made. But I have seen several irrelevant argument being made (from the pro-8 side as well, to be sure).

    I am a Hedge

  73. It is not an accident that things like CA’s prop8, FL’s prop2, and AZ’s prop102 have been turning up in recent presidential elections. The purpose of these propositions is to rile up the bigots, and make sure they go out and vote against the presidential candidate from a certain party. It is a Republican voter mobilization tactic, and a dodge around the separation of church and state. It is about putting in power the politicians preferred by the bigots.

    People like TheSkepticalMale, who think these anti-gay marriage laws and amendments don’t matter because there are other legal mechanisms have been hoodwinked by the smoke and the mirrors.

  74. @llewelly: Have you been paying attention?

    I’m paying attention. Those who dump time and energy into propositions that have no practical effect (e.g., CA Prop 8 has no practical effect because marriage=domestic partnerships under California law; AZ Prop 102 is already a statute, and a constitutional amendment has no effect), while the politicians don’t deal with issues like the federal deficit, Social Security, the health care system, etc. are the ones who are hoodwinked.

  75. I’ve only skimmed the arguments, having just spent the day working under the 100 degree sun and am too tired to read in depth. But I’d like to point out one difference between marriage and domestic partnership. Domestic partnership is probably part of the general legal code, and can thus be easily changed. Changing the rights of married couples would be alot more difficult.

  76. @TheSkepticalMale:

    But the California Supreme Court is much less a product of the democratic process than a proposition put to the voters, no?

    Yes, you are right.

    My point was this: How is the California Supreme Court cramming a definition of “marriage” down the state’s throat any different than Prop 8 cramming a different definition down the state’s throats?

    The court decision grants a right to a group of people and does not take anything away from anyone. Prop 8 denies a right to a group of people and doesn’t give anything to anyone. That is the difference I see.

  77. @Gabrielbrawley:

    The court decision grants a right to a group of people and does not take anything away from anyone.

    A point that is often overlooked (I am guilty of this in casual conversation), rights are not granted, they are recognized. Privileges may be granted. Did the Court recognize a right, or did it declare a privilege? One may be properly overruled by a vote of the people or by the legislature, the other may not.

    I am a Hedge

  78. @russellsugden: I don’t know if you’ll see this, as it’s a day or two late, but:

    “Race-hate is hatred of a person for who they are whereas homophobia is hatred of a person for what they do. I believe them to be two distinct forms of hatred (though often seen together) with different causes and solutions.”

    NO. Homophobia is a hatred of who a person is. Being gay or lesbian is NOT A LIFESTYLE nor is it a choice. It is who someone is. People don’t choose to be gay. To insinuate it is a hatred of “what they do” is to imply that homosexuality is a choice. It is not. Period.

  79. @Gabrielbrawley:So granting rights is ok, but taking them away is not? (Set aside the fact that the “rights” were granted only 5 months ago.) Really? What if the U.S. Supreme Court granted Christians the “right” to public school adminstrators to teach creationism and no other “theory”? I mean since you all seem to accept the tyranny of the courts over the “tyranny of the majoirty” – straying so far from the actual text of the constitution that it doesn’t even mean much anymore – what happens when the courts don’t go your way? You say, “That would never happen,” but the Court didn’t have a problem reading “being necessarly for a well-regulated militia” out of the U.S. Constitution a few months ago. This is the problem when, instead of working to win hearts and minds in the democratic process, you rely on the courts to achieve worthy objectives.

    And what rights did the California Supreme Court grant that the California statutes did not already provide? The answer: the “right” to use the word “marriage” and nothing more. The California statute already explicitly and expressly grants the same rights to domestic partners as to married couples.

  80. In honor of the holiday, I think this should officially be dubbed, “The Post That Wouldn’t Die … Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That.”

  81. @Kimbo Jones: The nature of the Bill of Rights being what it is (limited in scope), in this case, you have two competing rights – the right to free speech and the right to freedom from religion … But generally speaking, “A teacher appears to speak for the school district when he or she teaches, so the district administration has a strong interest in determining the content of the message its teachers will deliver.”

  82. @Kimbo Jones: … So to answer your question, generally speaking, a school administration already has the right to limit the freedom of speech of the teacher (because of a compelling state interest) with respect to the content of what the teacher is teaching, so I don’t think there would be any right being taken away.

  83. @weatherwax: Hmmm … California domestic partnership statute grants grants “same-sex couples all state-level rights and obligations of marriage — in areas such as inheritance, income tax, insurance and hospital visitation” … Keeping in mind that California cannot do anything about federal rights (governed by The Defense of Marriage Act), exactly what do you mean by “alot more involved” in terms of legal rights?

  84. @Kimbo Jones:

    Ok I don’t understand American law.

    It is not intended to be understood. How would the lawyers [ahem] earn [ahem] their money? (Sorry, TSM, nothing personal).

    I am a Hedge

  85. @TheSkepticalMale:

    the Court didn’t have a problem reading “being necessarly for a well-regulated militia” out of the U.S. Constitution a few months ago.

    Careful, this thread is already busting at the seams with one touchy subject. Do we want to go down that road as well?

    I am a Hedge

  86. TheSkepticalMale: You didn’t say “all state-level rights and obligations of marriage”, you said “most property rights”, and I pointed that there are alot more rights and responsibities in marriage than property rights.

    And again, the domestic partnership rights are in the California domestic partnership statute, which I believe would be alot easier to change and restrict than marriage statutes.

    As far as federal statues, well, that’s next.

  87. @weatherwax:Again, what are you referring to as “alot more rights and responsibilities in marriage than property rights”? The domestic partnership statute actually explicitly grants domestic partners all the rights of a married couple. So what do you think the statute is missing … or me?

    Why would domestic partnership statutes be easier to change than the marital rights statutes? Both have to go through the same legislative process. The last time I checked, a comfortable majority of Californians believed that domestic partners should have the same rights as married couples.

    At least we agree (I think) that the real culprit is the federal statute – The Defense of Marriage Act – which attempts to undermine the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Without the statute, I believe that one state (Arizona) would have to recognize a marriage in another state (California), which is generally the law with respect to child custody/support orders and other areas of the family law.

  88. TheSkepticalMale: I mean easier in terms of political fallout. The fundies will always be trying to chip away at civil partnerships, and slip changes in through the back door. And if the rights are the same, what difference does it make?

    Frankly, I’m leaning towards having the federal government not have anything to do with marriage, and only recognise civil partnerships.

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