Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wedding Bell Blues

It wasn't that long ago that we were celebrating gay marriage becoming legal in California. However, although the state was solidly behind the election of soon to be President Obama, it now it looks like California, along with their "enlightened" brethren in Arkansas and Florida, have decided to outlaw gay marriage. Shame on them!

Apparently, a veritable religious frenzy ensued in California, where the Mormon and Catholic Churches, as well as various black Churches, all battled to make their religious inspired homophobia the law of the land. See also, Catholics, Mormons allied to pass Prop. 8.

There have been numerous protests since the ban was enacted, especially against the Mormon Church, which poured millions into support of the same sex marriage ban. Utah Boycott Urged After Calif. Vote. In fact, a friend sent me a Petition to Review the 501(c)(3) status of The Church of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons).

You would think that the Mormon Church would have learned that bigotry doesn't wear well? After all, the Mormon Church considered blacks to be second class citizens until the late '70s. See We Shall Overcome. I still recall the old refrain of Brigham Young University (of "bring 'em old, bring 'em young, just bring 'em white" fame).

Like other forms of bigotry, this too shall pass. It's only a question of when, not if.

However, in the meantime, it is unfortunate that, once again, religion is used as the means to promote bigotry and hatred. As noted in an op-ed piece in the San Fransisco Chronicle, Church and state: The issue of Prop. 8:

Proposition 8 has passed, denying to some the right enjoyed by other citizens in California, the right to marry. Now, the central question for the courts to decide is: Are gays in California equal, or can members of certain churches declare them constitutionally inferior?

The approval of a constitutional ban on gay marriage raises troubling but age-old issues concerning the lines between religion and government. Before the founders of our country separated church and state, there were hundreds of years of turmoil caused by one religion dominating the government and using it against nonbelievers.

* * * *

The drafters of the U.S. Constitution had a brilliant, experienced view concerning the importance of drawing the lines to protect religion on the one hand and civil government on the other. They put those lines in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Today, those lines are very relevant.

Government may not attack religion. Californians who have religious beliefs concerning the proper scope of marriage may exercise those rights as they see fit. Churches have always been able to proceed as they wish concerning marriage ceremonies. There was no mandate to suppress religious beliefs. This should be obvious to everyone in California because of our tolerance of all religions.

That the supporters of Proposition 8 were motivated by religious beliefs cannot be denied. Now the religious beliefs of some Californians are in our Constitution and, until overturned, govern us all whether we like it or not.

My daughter has also been confronted by homophobic sentiment now that she is living in Florida. I wrote about her recent experience while she was working on an essay in her English class in support of gay marriage, when she contacted me to ask whether 'gayness' was more accepted in the north. I said yes and blamed it all on the religious bent of the Southern evangelicals. Of course, they are not alone.

Keith Olbermann dedicated a Special Comment to the issue:

To put it in the correct perspective, this whole thing brings to mind Jon Stewart's words on Gay Marriage, when I saw him in concert at the Tower Theater last year:
"I could understand gay marriage being a big issue if, say, the government was trying to make it mandatory. I can't quite wrap my head around why it's such an effective issue and why to many people care. And I know there's the religious argument that it's an abomination. But have you read the Bible? Everything is an abomination. If you read Leviticus, shellfish is an abomination. An abomination. Where's that sign at the protest? 'God hates fags...and scallops!"
The real abomination? The Churches who have intruded into the private lives of people.

(Cartoon via Matt Davies, The Journal News)


Susan said...

Taking my lawyer hat out of mothballs, what I am wondering is how the ballot referendum comports with the law regarding amending the state Constitution, which -- per Court interpretation, but nonetheless -- recognizes gay marriage as a state Constitutional right. Your thoughts?

JudiPhilly said...

While you still have your lawyer hat on, you may also remember the law school 3-view rule: the majority rule, the minority view and the California rule. We may be a long way from law school days, but some things haven't changed.

I'm hardly an expert on this, but as I understand it, the state constitution can be amended by a limited amendment (via a signature campaign, as was done with Prop 8) or by revision, which requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature before it can be put up for vote. That is the basis for the court appeal -- that the initiative was not properly classified. See More groups ask California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8.