Cross-posted @ the Atheist Oasis
For those among you who are not Californians, Proposition 8 was a ‘ballot proposition and constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state elections. The measure added a new provision, Section 7.5 of the Declaration of Rights, to the California Constitution, which provides that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
But wait, you say: 2008? Isn’t this old news?
Way-ull, kinda. In 2010, a federal judge overturned the proposition in court.
And this month of February, a federal appeals court overturned this bad boy once and for all.
And just who exactly was behind this? Oh, the usual suspects:
Republican presidential nominee and U.S. Senator John McCain released a statement of support for the proposed constitutional amendment. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich released a video in support. Both characterized the court ruling requiring recognition of same sex marriage as being against the will of the people. Other notable supporters include Republican State Senator Tom McClintock and 20 other Republican State Senators and Assemblymembers.
Whew! California dodged the bullet when McCain missed the presidency – we still have the Gingrich hurdle though.
And some of the bastards of that old whore, Christianity:
The Roman Catholic Church, as well as a Roman Catholic lay fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus, firmly supported the measure. The bishops of the California Catholic Conference released a statement supporting the proposition, a position met with mixed reactions among church members, including clergy.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are commonly known as Mormons, also publicly supported the proposition. The First Presidency of the church announced its support for Proposition 8 in a letter intended to be read in every congregation in California. In this letter, church members were encouraged to "do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time." Local church leaders set organizational and monetary goals for their membership—sometimes quite specific—to fulfill this call. The response of church members to their leadership's appeals to donate money and volunteer time was very supportive, such that Latter-day Saints provided a significant source for financial donations in support of the proposition, both inside and outside the State of California. About 45% of out-of-state contributions to ProtectMarriage.com came from Utah, over three times more than any other state. ProtectMarriage, the official proponents of Proposition 8, estimate that about half the donations they received came from Mormon sources, and that "eighty to ninety percent" of the early volunteers going door-to-door were LDS. The The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints produced and broadcast to its congregations a program describing the support of the Proposition, and describing the timeline it proposes for what it describes as grassroots efforts to support the Proposition.
Other religious organizations that supported Proposition 8 include the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Eastern Orthodox Church, a group of Evangelical Christians led by Jim Garlow and Miles McPherson, American Family Association, Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, also endorsed the measure.
Gavin Newsome was a non-idiot for once on this one:
In the months leading up to Election Day, Proposition 8 supporters released a commercial featuring San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom stating in a speech regarding same-sex marriage: "This door's wide open now. It's going to happen, whether you like it or not." Some observers noted that polls shifted in favor of Proposition 8 following the release of the commercial; this, in turn, led to much speculation about Newsom’s unwitting role in the passage of the amendment.
And to be fair to all:
While Democratic presidential nominee and U.S. Senator, Barack Obama stated that while he personally considered marriage to be between a man and woman, and supported civil unions that confer comparable rights rather than gay marriage, he opposed "divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution... the U.S. Constitution or those of other states." Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joseph Biden also opposed the proposition. Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that although he opposed and twice vetoed legislative bills that would recognize same-sex marriage in California, he respected and would uphold the court's ruling and oppose the initiative and other attempts to amend the state's constitution. The U.S. House Speaker, California Representative (8th District), Nancy Pelosi along with other members of the California congressional delegation and both of California's U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, voiced their opposition to Proposition 8. Also voicing their opposition were the Lieutenant Governor, State Controller John Chiang, former governor and Attorney General Jerry Brown, 42 of 80 members of the state assembly, half of the state senators, and the mayors of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego: Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Jerry Sanders, respectively.
And apparently some religionists who are able to retrofit their own holy book:
All six Episcopal diocesan bishops in California jointly issued a statement opposing Proposition 8 on September 10, 2008. Southern California's largest collection of rabbis, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, voted to oppose Proposition 8. Other Jewish groups who opposed Proposition 8 include Jewish Mosaic, the American Jewish Committee, Progressive Jewish Alliance, National Council of Jewish Women, and the Anti-Defamation League. Los Angeles Jews were more opposed to Prop 8 than any other religious group or ethnic group in the city. Jewish Angelenos voted 78% against the measure while only 8% supported the measure; the remainder declined to respond. The legislative ministry of the Unitarian Universalists opposed Proposition 8, and organized phone banks toward defeating the measure. They see opposition to the proposition as a civil rights and social justice issue and their actions against it as a continuation of their previous works in civil rights.
In addition, the California Council of Churches issued a statement urging the "immediate removal of Proposition 8" – saying that it infringes on the freedom of religion for churches who wish to bless same-sex unions.
I’m of the opinion that churches should lose their tax-exempt status if they involve themselves in politics (as Founding Father James Madison stated), but what do I know?
Here’s an interesting tidbit:
The League of Women Voters of California opposed Proposition 8 because "no person or group should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination." Additionally, all but two of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's local chapters in California and NAACP national chairman Julian Bond and President Benjamin Jealous opposed Proposition 8. Amnesty International also condemned Proposition 8, saying that "states should never withhold rights based on minority status".
The reason I use the term “interesting”, is that I’ve actually seen arguments (seriously!) that stated that most African Americans oppose gay marriage on the grounds that, since they were the group that spearheaded the civil rights movement, they could chose what a civil right was. I am not joking.
And wow – even some of the Big Boys of Silicon Valley spoke up:
A coalition of Silicon Valley executives urged a 'No' vote on Proposition 8. Google officially opposed Proposition 8 "as an issue of equality", donating $140,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple Inc. also opposed Proposition 8 as a "fundamental" civil rights issue, and donated $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Biotech leaders warned of potential damage to the state's $73 billion industry, citing Massachusetts as a top competitor for employees.
(Interesting – seeing as Google tends to employ ageism to discriminate against older employees.)
That the entertainment industry opposed it is no surprise.
Many members of the entertainment industry were opposed to Proposition 8. Actor Tom Hanks, a strong supporter of same-sex marriage, was extremely outspoken about his opposition to the bill. Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg each donated different amounts of money to the opposition campaign "No on 8." In 2010, the documentary film 8: The Mormon Proposition premiered to sell-out audiences at the Sundance Film Festival.
The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously for a resolution to oppose Proposition 8. The California Teachers Association donated one million dollars to fight Proposition 8. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau of UC Berkeley urged a vote against the measure, claiming a likely threat to California's academic competitiveness if Proposition 8 is passed.
And of course, the obligatory ugliness:
A week before the vote, Fresno Mayor Alan Autry received an email containing death threats against both himself and Pastor Jim Franklin of Fresno's Cornerstone Church, both of whom had spoken in support of Proposition 8 during a rally at Fresno city hall the preceding weekend. According to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, the email stated that the threat "was stemming from Prop 8". Fresno "No on 8" organizer Jason Scott condemned the death threats, and Mayor Autry expressed concern that there might be a backlash against opponents of the measure. Fresno-area supporters of gay marriage were also harassed; "No On 8" signs at the Clovis Unitarian Universalist Church were torn up, with Reverend Bryan Jessup alleging that his church experienced vandalism "every night".
At an LDS church in Orangevale (in Sacramento County), vandals spray-painted in red letters on the front sign and sidewalk: "No on 8" and "No on Prop 8". An affiliate group of the Radical Trans/Queer organization Bash Back! claims to have poured glue into the locks of an LDS church and spray painted its walls.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Jay Boyarsky attributed a surge in anti-gay hate crimes, from 3 in 2007 to 14 in 2008, to controversy over Proposition 8. However, the DDA questioned the reliability of small statistical samples, asserting that the vast majority of hate incidents don't get referred to the DA's office.
Of course, there was a great deal of money spent on what should’ve been a foregone conclusion. After all, the Fourteenth Amendment stipulates that:
Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v. Sandford ruling by the Supreme Court (1857) that held that blacks could not be citizens of the United States.
Its Due Process Clause prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without certain steps being taken to ensure fairness. This clause has been used to make most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states, as well as to recognize substantive and procedural rights.
But wait – there’s more:
Its Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. This clause was the basis for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court decision which precipitated the dismantling of racial segregation in United States education. In Reed v. Reed (1971), the Supreme Court ruled that laws arbitrarily requiring sex discrimination violated the Equal Protection Clause.
So – in short, some of us should receive a tax refund on money ill-spent.
Also – this is a premier example of the violation of Church and State. There should be no meddling in the affairs of state by clergy – any clergy. There should be no mass swathe of mobs (however ruly) swarming in a direction pointed by priests. There should be no decrying of basic civil rights based on religious grounds in politics.
And yes, pigs should fly.
Till the next post, then.