Back in the midst of the Prop 8 debate, there were a couple of people who were interested in considering possible reasons for supporting prop 8. While I realized that there wasn't any way to 'prove' many things either way, I wanted to start capturing many of the concerns I had.
Recently, I was asked once again why I chose to support Prop 8. I figured it would be worth sharing some of my thoughts here. This list doesn't represent all of my thoughts, but does capture many of them.
Please note: At this point, I'm not interested in debating with others on what follows. I realize others may have different points of view, and I respect your right to have your thoughts and ask for the same respect in return. In the end, as I said before, I think one of the challenges with this issue is that we can't necessarily prove things one way or the other, and so we each have to decide where we think all of this could lead, and choose accordingly.
I should note that I had already begun to formulate my list of concerns and reasons I supported proposition 8 before the Church came out with its reasons. (I have been accused of only blind following, but I have thought about and considered this issue for years, ever since Prop 22 in 2000. I did not make my choice about my stand lightly, or blindly. Did the Church's directness in this issue affect me? Of course it did. But in the end, I made my choice for reasons beyond just 'the prophet said so.')
Even still, and even if some people will refuse to believe it, taking a stand was difficult, because I know how charged and painful this issue is. and in my heart of hearts, I don't want to cause others pain. I have found, however, that there will be some who will not see my point of view or my decision as anything but hateful and prejudiced. At some point, there is probably nothing I can do to change those minds. But in a sense, such reactions only solidify some of my concerns. I feel that given our democracy, there must be room for respect for other people's viewpoints. And so, again, I would ask for such respect for mine. And ask that you consider giving the benefit of the doubt before commenting. At this stage of the issue, and given my weariness with some continued attacks on my character, unless I feel your comment is respectful, I will not post it. Thanks in advance.
Following are some of my reasons that I supported Proposition 8:
· Gays, through domestic partnerships, were already provided rights and protections under California law.
· The people of California already voted on this in 2000, and 61% of voters decided that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. Four of seven CA court justices overturned the voice of the people. The split vote demonstrates that even among experts, it is not agreed upon whether gay marriage should have ever been made legal in the first place. (In the two other states that legalized gay marriage at the time of Prop 8, the votes were also split 4-3.)
· I am deeply concerned that essentially that one vote at the court level could have (and has had) this kind of power to overturn the majority vote of millions of people. This is a precedent that concerns me greatly for future votes on issues yet undefined, in California or elsewhere.
· I am struck by the fact that 27 states in the nation had passed amendments such as Proposition 8 prior to the vote, and more than a dozen other states had passed other statutes or measures that also protect the traditional definition of marriage. Worldwide, I believe only 6 countries have legalized gay marriage. In short, legalized gay marriage does not represent what the majority of US citizens or the majority of nations of the world support. This presents not only an ideological clash, but also the very real potential for future legal and political fallout, which could be costly in time, money, and energy for all of us.
· I am concerned about the potential threats to rights of those who may have religious or other beliefs or opinions supporting traditional marriage as the ideal. This is not to say that I support intolerance of or unkindness to gays. In no uncertain terms, I believe that gays are no different from anyone else in that they deserve common decency, respect, compassion, and kindness. But it is not hard to imagine the effort to protect the rights of gays clashing with the free speech and/or religious rights of those who believe gay marriage is wrong, or who feel for other reasons that traditional marriage should continue as the foundation of our society. This kind of intolerance for those who support traditional marriage was part of the debate about Proposition 8, and continues post-Prop 8. Tolerance must go both ways, and I am concerned that we will see less and less tolerance for those who support traditional marriage if gay marriage were to become legal.
· I am concerned about potential public school curriculum issues. If gay marriage had become legal in CA, it would have had to be treated equally in courses that discuss marriage and family life. For parents, teachers, and taxpayers with viewpoints and/or beliefs that consider heterosexual marriage to be the ideal, again there could have been conflicts of interest and possibly even a threat to individual rights. As a parent and a taxpayer, this has concerned me. I also was concerned for teachers who may believe personally that teaching these things to children is not a positive thing.
Perhaps you heard that recently, a class of California first graders was taken to their lesbian teacher’s wedding. From an academic standpoint alone, I believe that such outings (funded by taxpayer money) are unnecessary and inappropriate for school. I could imagine that a parent or taxpayer opposing such a field trip could be viewed as engaging in discrimination, or even ignored -- even if the concerns expressed are about academics and not gay marriage per se. I am concerned that legalizing gay marriage could justify more of this kind of specially “protected” curriculum decision. I can appreciate the desire for “diversity education” but think it not unreasonable to be concerned that, given the nature of “political correctness,” this kind of thing could be taken to an extreme that doesn’t consider or protect others’ rights, particularly the rights of the parents of the children involved and the rights of taxpayers whose money supports the schools.
· I am concerned about changing the definition of something that has been the foundation of society for millennia. Even with its exceptions, where divorce or other less-than-ideal things occur, traditional marriage has proven over time to be a foundational institution for societies and in the lives of children in a positive way. The failings of marriage are not because of the institution, but because of individuals, and those problems would exist with gay marriage as well.
The full impact of legalized gay marriage – negative or positive -- cannot fully be ascertained, because the concept of gay marriage, let alone its very limited practice, simply has not been around for very long. As such, I am not comfortable with the idea of submitting society (including, and perhaps especially, children) to an experiment that, in my mind, could have potential significant, lasting, negative consequences in many ways and challenges the wisdom and experience of millenia. My concern is not just for the immediate future, but for generations to come. (I realize that those who opposed prop 8 could use their concerns for children and the future as support for their position. Again, I am not interested in debating, and I realize that it's possible to come down on completely opposite sides of points like this. But given my worldview, I come down on the side of traditional marriage.)
· My last point for my purposes here, but not my least, is that I am concerned about the impact that legalizing gay marriage could have on children. I’m not questioning the reality that gays could and do provide loving homes for children. However, I believe that policy and law should consider what is, in general, best for children now and in the future. It is my belief that children deserve, wherever possible, to be raised by a mom and a dad, and that societies, in general, benefit from the stability that traditional marriage can offer.
I believe also that legalizing gay marriage could create a confusing environment for children, where roles like husband, wife, dad, mom, male, female, etc. could end up being altered. For example, I have already seen men called "Mum" and “like a bride” in videos that obviously support gay marriage. While I believe there is lots of room for sharing of family responsibilities, to me, to be a mom and a bride is to be female. These are simple examples of how I think this all could be very messy, and not just in terms of semantics, but in terms of what these terms and concepts have truly meant for millennia in the fabric of society and family life. I think these roles and definitions are important as children grow and develop personally, socially, sexually, and in other ways. (Again, I realize not everyone will share this view.)
And it probably goes without saying that for some, these words and roles have tremendous religious significance for many Americans. Again, parental (and/or religious) and societal teachings could clash -- where it matters most – in the raising of our children and grandchildren.
There is no one reason why I supported Prop 8. To me, it was a complex mixture of legal, political, social, educational, and religious reasons that led me to make the choice that I did. I may never be able to convince some people that it was hard, and continues to be hard, to take a stand on something that has caused many people pain.