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Commentary: The Vote to Ban Same-Sex Marriage Crossed a Line

It is not the right to marriage that is a casualty of Prop. 8, but equality.

This past Election Day, more than 5 million Californians voted to ban same-sex marriage in this state. To many it is an outrage, an unconscionable attack on the rights of a minority group with no sound reasoning behind it other than intolerance and hatred, hidden behind plaintive calls to save the children from homosexual indoctrination from both the public schools and adoption centers.

But the real reason, the fundamental base of the entire debate over same-sex marriage, is what I will call religious logic. The term came to me during a discussion I had with a friend who initially supported Proposition 8 automatically, apparently without the need for justification. As I pressed him for a logical basis for his stance, the following conclusion emerged, paraphrased: Heterosexual-exclusive marriage is an ancient tradition driven by religion, and because religious belief is powerful enough to be considered a valid form of logic, it follows that marriage should be preserved in its ancient form. And based on the outcome of this vote, and from my conversations with others, this is a commonly held stance.

Religious logic is, by definition, illogical. The basis of logical argument is to use facts and reasoning to progress to a conclusion that can be widely accepted. With the concept of religious logic, this fundamental universality is eliminated, as people of differing faiths will be entirely unable to see eye to eye. Disagreement on simple matters of faith will derail a discussion before it can start. Therefore, it is essential that logic remain secular. This also holds true for law and public policy, both of which must be based on ideas and facts that are unbiased and universal.

I have often explained to supporters of Prop. 8 that regardless of whether someone approves of same-sex marriage, equal rights to governmental benefits is a basic American freedom. But this argument does not stick, because it is apparent that to many, religious imperatives and public policy cannot be separated, despite the wall of separation that
is meant to keep them from mingling. What this means is that we have a substantial proportion of Californians — and, more than likely, Americans — who maintain a worldview that compels them to reshape the world so it may better conform to their vision of an ideal society, even when these urges contradict both logic and the founding ideals of this country.

Prop. 8 does indeed contradict basic constitutional rights. It is not the right to marriage that is fundamental, but equality. When one group of people has access to a beneficial government institution while another group is denied that access for no reason other than religion and morality, a grievous crime is committed against society. This basic fact of our country is true, and must remain true, regardless of religious and moral inclinations to the contrary. Therefore, it is the duty of all citizens to separate their grand visions of idealized society from the voting booth and compartmentalize their life into two distinct arenas: religion and politics. In this country, each has its own exclusive territory.

For the will of the people has a limit. There is a fine line between democratic power and tyranny. That line was crossed on Nov. 4.

SBCC student Alex Dunn lives in Isla Vista.

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