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PROP. 8: No bigotry in defining morality

Letter by Harold W. Eash, Bonney Lake on Aug. 9, 2010 at 9:10 am with 23 Comments »
August 9, 2010 11:13 am

Eugene Robinson’s assertion (column 8-6) that the California judge’s ruling against Proposition 8 strikes a blow against bigotry misses the point altogether.

Proposition 8 was not passed because of bigotry against the homosexual community but in defense of legitimate marriage. Voters rejected not the people but their actions. There is a big difference.

One of the judge’s arguments against Proposition 8 was that it was based on moral grounds and therefore is unconstitutional. Isn’t the Constitution largely based on morality, a belief in right and wrong? Do we not have laws against murder, robbery, perjury, etc.? These are moral issues.

In order to make today’s evils more palatable, we have given them other names. We call homosexuals gay. Abortion is called choice. Gambling in now gaming.

No, we are not bigots who would deny marriage to those of the same sex. We also deny marriage between family members, to animals and to more than one spouse.

Besides, homosexuals do have the same right as everyone else to marry. Marriage is between one man and one woman. The right to marry, like all rights, has its limitations.

Leave a comment Comments → 23
  1. If you repeat a falsehood long enough, people might believe it.

    The judge did not say that because Prop 8 was passed on the basis of people’s sense of morality that it was unconstitutional. He in fact stated that we must have the utmost respect for the will of voters. He did state that in the absence of any factual evidence that gay marriage would harm anyone else’s marriage, in the absence of any factual evidence that gay marriage would harm society or any individual outside that marriage, then he must find for the Constitutional protection of equality under that law and for the inalienable right of marriage as defined by the Constitution.

    If you have any factual evidence that straight marriage needs “defense” from gay marriage, please provide it to the lawyers who are defending Prop 8. They will need it in the appeals phase, because they sure didn’t present any, and the judge had to go by what was presented in court.

  2. You are still right, (as in right vs wrong) and thank you Harold. This is an example of ” straining at the gnat while swallowing the camel” and they are called “judges”?

  3. LuckyCharm says:

    What tuddo said. How is Prop 8 a “defense of legitimate marriage”? Marriage between same-sex spouses does nothing at all to threaten or diminish marriage between opposite-sex couples.

    We prohibit marriage between relatives because science tells us that a lack of genetic diversity is harmful to society. We prohibit it to animals because an animal cannot legally consent. We prohibit multiple spouses because not only does it open up the potential for abuse, but also because it has been banned by the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862 and has never survived a Supreme Court challenge.

  4. Polygamy “banned by the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862 and has never survived a Supreme Court challenge. ”

    On what basis LC? Surely not based on moral reasoning!

  5. LuckyCharm says:

    I was not alive in the late 19th century, sozo, and my information is probably as good as yours. I don’t know that there’s a legal basis for prohibiting polygamy, only that it has not yet been successfully challenged in the Supreme Court. For all I know, there is no logical reason why a person couldn’t have multiple spouses (my mind jumps to all sorts of legal entanglements, but none that I could specify).

    Personally, I’d love to see a return to old-time Biblical marriage — I want to sign up as a concubine!

  6. sozo, the Supreme Court specifically stated in their decision that, although opponents of polygamy tried to base some of their arguments on religion and morality, the court did not consider those arguments relative. (This was even more concretely stated in throwing out laws against interracial marriages. They did accept a very convoluted argument that polygamy was a danger to democracy. They based this on several factors. They agreed that western-style democracy was a way of organizing society and that a nuclear family was more conducive to democracy than was the tribal system that polygamy relies upon. The talk about the nuclear family did not mention male and female, but was two people. They said that family members’ roles in a democracy were undermined by the “traditional” polygamy of one male and many wives. They mentioned problems with inheritance and other family-based legal issues in a democracy, and the lack of democratic institutions to support a polygamous lifestyle. The decision is very lengthy, and I just sratched the surface on the issues they thought harmed democracy. Some of the arguments seem very far-fetched to me, but none were based on “morality”. They mentioned tradition and history in western culture when they talked about supporting two people coming together based on love, as opposed to polygamous practices of joining several families together by giving girl children into marriage.

  7. johnearl says:

    I suppose I probably should check with the Mrs. first, but near as I can tell my wife and my marriage is as strong today as it was last week. We are un-damaged.

  8. The Reynolds case actually did not make polygamy illegal, but upheld the anti-bigamy law as Constitutional. That is why some polygamists still think they can change the law, and why some conservatives say, “what next? polygamy” when gay marriage is discussed. The defense for Mr Reynolds who was convicted of bigamy included the argument that the courts were ignoring the moral and religious duty for Mormons to have multiple wives.

    The court quoted Jefferson’s statement about the Constitution and building “a wall of separation between church and State” to say that the Constitution protected beliefs, but not actions that harm society.

    The court said that it is right for civil government to act against religious opinion or beliefs if they break out into overt acts that harm society. So, the question remains, how does gay marriage harm society?

  9. “They agreed that western-style democracy was a way of organizing society and that a nuclear family was more conducive to democracy than was the tribal system that polygamy relies upon.” –tuddo

    Thanks for doing the research on this one tuddo. I posted this part of your comment to further the discussion…

    I’m thinking we can assume what they meant by the nuclear family at that time, can we not? While I will concur that some families with gay parents are healtheir than some heterosexual homes, in my opinion, and that’s all it is, the ideal situation remains a man+woman household given the balance the two genders bring to child-rearing.

    and johnearl, perhaps you should widen your lens. I don’t think the folks who speak of damage to our society mean damage to your particular marriage. Just as divorce poses big challenges, so too does the gay family that includes kids. It means multiple adults in different “parental” roles, as in…biological mother…sperm donor…house mother…working mom, etc; it means seeking out “male role models” to bring some measure of gender balance to the situation, etc.

    You may not think that’s a big deal, but a lot of people do. I think kids are really confused in this generation, and the diminishment of defined roles is part of the confusion. IMO

  10. commoncents says:

    Sozo – I have seen multiple posts from you and your opinions are always thoughtful and balanced. I don’t always agree with them but I do respect them… You touch upon a very valid point in the “damage” that gay marriages may bring to society when you try to define roles. However, you stop short in actually comparing them to roles in our real society. I would agree that a man+woman lifestyle would be optimal but…. Do you believe that the obstacles are greater for the committed homosexual marriages than the divorced heterosexual ones? When you speak of multiple roles do you think the roles are any greater/lessor than those in a divorced/remarriage (ie biological mom, step-mom, step mom#?) situation. It’s my opinion that we force children to adapt to those types of situations and deem it as “normal” yet we call it abnormal when you have two people coming together for the first time simply because of their gender and that’s crazy.

  11. commoncents, I think you even fall for society’s too easy assertion that a man+woman lifestyle is optimal. If it is so optimal, why doesn’t research reveal a difference or benefits to that lifestyle. The research shows either neutrality when it comes to any way yet devised to measure benefits of marriage to the family or toward children or some tilt toward same sex marriages when it comes to income of the family, children’s educational achievements and some others. The trial revealed some of that research.

    Our society is very complex. I agree to a great deal with the conservative philosophy that freedom is one of the most important benefits of living in our Constitutional democracy. In the absence of harm to society, to other individuals or to themselves, we allow a lot of behavior that various groups would not wish to participate in. We legislate against those behaviors that cause harm, If one is a true conservative who believes in freedom, then point out to me the harm that gay amrriage does before you legislate against it. That is all I ask, and all the judge asked. If governemtn starts legislating what is “best” for people and requiring people to abide by only what is “best ” for them, with no harm shown for other lifestyles, then I would imagine conservatives would rebel and call it socialism. Well, that is what is happening with gay marriage. We now know enough about it to make some decisiions. Prove the harm or let it be.

  12. There is a difficulty when one attempts to proscribe behavior based upon “what is best for the children” to entire classes of people – it doesn’t deal with individual reality.

    Ferexample: My brother and his partner adopted two brothers after serving as foster parents. The biological parents are split-up, alcoholics, have a history of abusive behavior, and have repealed any and all attempts made on behalf of the two boys to include them in their biological famiies’ lives (this extends to grandparents too). No one pontificating upon “what’s best for the children” can ever present a case that suggests that my nephews would have been better off if they had not been adopted by a gay couple.

  13. commoncents says:

    tuddo – I’m sorry, I guess I wasn’t as clear on my post as I had thought. Too many type, erase, retypes….. I was very specifically asking if Sozo felt the obstacles a child in a committed homosexual relationship were greater than those that a child in a divorced or divorced/remarried relationship. I don’t believe that to be true. Different yes…but greater or more varied roles? no.

    My beliefs align alongside yours. Prove the harm. There is still a stigma associated with the homosexual lifestyle that can unfairly be placed upon the child of such a partnership but I don’t believe that to be any greater (or lesser) than the stigma associated with thoses of any different societal class be it economic, racial, or religious in nature. People will always castigate those that are perceived to be “different”. However, it’s not the business of our government and it’s laws to act in the same manner. It is this stigma that makes the man+woman optimal….remove the stigma and any loving and caring two parent home rises to the top.

  14. dewilson says:

    commoncents – You said it well. I think the great parallel was the outlawing of inter-racial marriages. When those laws were overturned the alarmists raised many of the same arguments you now hear about homosexual marriage; it would diminish “traditional” marriage; it would create mixed-race children with life-long stigmas; they are bound to be short-term marriages because of natural incompatibilities, etc., etc.

    I suspect Soza would thing an ideal marriage would also encompass two persons of the same faith, making them more compatible and avoiding any ‘sprititual confusion’ on the part of the children. (Notable example: Chelsea Clinton and her new husband) Would she support a law to ban such inter-faith marriages on such grounds?

  15. bBoy, your nephews are blessed to have been taken in by people who will love and nurture them. Children deserve to be protected from abuse, whatever the source.

    dewilson asks of me: “Would she support a law to ban such inter-faith marriages on such grounds?”


    I do not suggest that homesexuals be banned from civil unions, and in the secular community, call it marriage if you like. I do have a problem with marriage as understood by the Church including gay couples, and if that offends people, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about it. I beleive the Church (note the capital C) should abide by the teachings of the Bible. When and if The Church changes this, then it will be up to me to decide whether to change along with it, or separate myself from it. I’ll let you know when that happens. There’s lively debate about marriage and ordination of gays in the church as we speak.

    I am not intractable, but it takes more than current trends and fashion to move me.

  16. dewilson says:

    Sozo – I have taken some hard swings at you for what I viewed as some intransigent positions on religious “morality” and what I interpreted as a desire to impose it on others not of your faith through govenmental enforcement. However, your last post was very enlightening. I agree that the Church certainly has the right to not recognize gay marriage within the context of their traditions. But I also recognize that you and your church members are honestly dealing with the debate and wrestling with some old issues in new contexts. I respect you for that and look forward to further, robust discussions with you.

  17. Appreciate it dewilson. You musn’t believe the hateful things Sumner says about me. :0)

  18. Marriage is a legal contract which can also be considered a sacrament. This discussion should only be focused upon the legal contract aspect of marriage as the government has no business dealing with strictly religious matters such as sacraments.

    If the Government were going to try to impose upon Churches that they must marry gay couples that would be anti-Constitutional and, as such, I would be strongly opposed to it.

    I wouldn’t, however, be opposed to rescinding the tax-free status that all Churches enjoy……..

  19. “If the Government were going to try to impose upon Churches that they must marry gay couples that would be anti-Constitutional and, as such, I would be strongly opposed to it.” bBoy

    Glad to hear it as I just posted this question on another thread. I’m afraid not everyone will have the integrity to do this, which is one of my concerns about state-sanctioned gay marriage.

  20. sozo – just because I reject all religions as corrupt political bodies that manipulate humans’ faith in the sacred doesn’t mean that I do not support the right of all humans to believe and worship in their own manner of choosing.

    It is when the attempt is made to impose faith-based moral systems upon the secular public as a whole that I have concerns.

  21. As do I.

    But you have to admit, there’s a moral basis for laws (can’t murder, can’t steal) and morality is a key component in religious doctrine…so…it’s hard to always have a nice clean cut — as we’ve discovered in the debate about abortion. For some it f alls into the “can’t murder” category and for others it does not.

    Life is messy.

  22. For the most part, laws are civil matters, sozo even though they seem to mimic what some might consider a sense of morality.

    That’s why it’s called civil court, and not moral court.

    Churches, on the other hand, take the moral approach. It sells.

  23. Mimic a sense of morality? How sweet.

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