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Scott Harris: Eight Reasons to Vote No on Proposition 8

When it comes to same-sex marriage, let's hope we are fair enough to be on the right side of history.

In March 2000, Californians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition 22 — the California Defense of Marriage Act — which in its simplest terms, defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. In May of this year, the California Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote, overturned the initiative, ruling that same-sex marriage was guaranteed by the state Constitution as a “fundamental right.” Chief Justice Ronald George wrote in his majority opinion, “Our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation.”

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Scott Harris
The predictable reaction to the ruling is the most controversial initiative on November’s ballot: Proposition 8. The initiative would amend the California Constitution and overturn the California Supreme Court decision. The entire text of Proposition 8 is short, simple and to the point: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.”

Here are eight reasons why we should defeat Proposition 8 this November.

1. Proponents of Prop 8 argue that it reflects the “people’s will,” as evidenced by Proposition 22. As public opinion polls show that support to allow same-sex marriages is growing rapidly, will those who are crying “majority rules” quietly step aside if Prop 8 fails?

2. Until 1967, it was also the “people’s will” that interracial marriages be illegal, and the institution of marriage seems to have withstood this “assault” on its foundation, as it has withstood divorce, adultery and, in my case, a Catholic marrying a Jew.

3. The Supreme Court’s decision is being attacked as bench legislation by a liberal activist court. It is important to note (in light of California’s well-deserved reputation for being extremely
liberal) that the Supreme Court is considered moderate, with Republican governors appointing six of its seven members.

4. Civil unions are a legal issue, which is where the state’s involvement should begin and end. Marriages should be performed and recognized by churches, synagogues and mosques. If a religious institution doesn’t want to acknowledge a relationship, then that is a private matter between that institution, the individuals and their God. However, when a state refuses to acknowledge a relationship, it is a public matter — and is indefensible.

5. I believe that a gay man can be just as good of a father as a straight man, but that he can’t be as good of a mother as a woman, which is why a man and a woman is the ideal partnership for raising children. However, the reality is that millions of children in this state are being raised in situations that are nowhere near ideal and suffer as a result. If two committed, loving adults want to commit their lives to raising a child, God — and the state of California — bless them.

6. I have yet to be shown how allowing same-sex marriage in any way diminishes my marriage, my family or my role as a father.

7. It is easy to say that I would have supported interracial marriage if I were old enough to have lived through the then-controversy. In years to come, when the same-sex issue has faded to all but historical irrelevance, I want to be able to tell my grandchildren that I was there, publicly supporting those who needed the support. It will be the best way to know that if I had been in Birmingham in the 1960s, I would have stood on the right side of the hoses.

8. If one of my children were gay, in love and wanted to get married, it would be impossible for me to look him or her in the eye and say I could not support the desire to be married. How can I possibly support a constitutional amendment that would legally demand that I — or any parent — do that to their children?

Same-sex marriage is a difficult issue, and when it is positioned as an attack on traditional marriage, religion, God and families, it is easy to see why so many are so involved. However, parallels in history and current trends all indicate that this issue eventually will be resolved, that marriage and religion will not be negatively affected and that once again we will find a balance between religious freedom and individual rights.

This year marks the 30-year anniversary of California defeating Proposition 6, the Briggs Amendment, which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. We were on the right side of history in 1978, and let’s hope we are wise and fair enough to be there again this year.

Scott Harris is a political commentator. Read his columns and contact him through his Web site, www.scottharris.biz, or e-mail him at [email protected]

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