The politics of marriage in this country have shifted enormously in the past decade. When I was in graduate school, I remember having debates about whether or not it was adviseable for lesbians to support marriage rights (why join an institution that so embodies patriarchy?). The debate was purely hypothetical, for none of us imagined that we'd see the day when American lesbians could get legally married. But marriage rights lawsuits proceeded, Vermont became the first state in the union to offer civil unions to gay and lesbian couples, and legal changes followed on the heels of social changes. It's a whole new world. If Proposition 8 is defeated next week, gay and lesbian citizens will retain the rights they--and every Californian--enjoy under the California state constitution. As the California court put it in their ruling last June:
Politica and I got married in 1995. It wasn't a legal wedding--no government entity took notice of our relationship until our civil union in Vermont in 2000. One of the reasons--in fact, the main reason--we moved last summer was to move to a state that would recognize our relationship. We grew tired of the politics in Old State, where initiatives to amend the constitution to ensure that gay and lesbian couples couldn't marry were continually being pushed by conservative forces. And we grew tired, so very tired, of listening to news reports featuring "experts" who spouted nonsense about the effects of our family on American social culture. Let's get real: we love each other, we love our kid. I like to think we play a supportive role in our friendship community, and that we are generally a force for good in the world. But the fact of our relationship doesn't damage anyone else's. And if I do say so myself, our happy little home with our adorable kid probably manages to bring a smile to those who visit here.
[T]he differential treatment at issue impinges upon a same-sex couple’s fundamental interest in having their family relationship accorded the same respect and dignity enjoyed by an opposite-sex couple.
[T]he exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples.
[T]he right to marry is not properly viewed simply as a benefit or privilege that a government may establish or abolish as it sees fit, but rather that the right constitutes a basic civil or human right of all people.
I've been linking back to Lesbian Dad for the past week becuase her posts about California have been stunning. Yesterday, she wrote about a video taken of a pro-Prop 8 protest. The Prop 8 protesters attacked (verbally and physically) a woman who was observing their protest. We shouldn't have to walk through the world fearful about how hate will surface. We shouldn't have to turn on the news to hear about how some citizens are seeking to take away from us rights that exist in the constitution. The referendum process does a terrible job of protecting minority rights. That's the job of the constitution. Proposition 8 is rallying hateful rhetoric--and if you think that's an overstatement of what you might consider a rational disagreement about the extent of marriage laws, click through to that Lesbian Dad post and watch the video. Proposition 8 is rallying hate in order to take away rights from a minority group. That is just not fair.
It scares me to think about what will be the political fall out if Proposition 8 passes. It takes my words away.