Proposition 8 Ramblings

I figured I’d preface this post with Keith Olbermann, who said it best. As you likely have heard, proposition 8 in California passed. It is:

a California State ballot proposition that amended the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. It overrode a decision of the California Supreme Court from earlier in the year, In re Marriage Cases, that had recognized same-sex marriage in California as a fundamental right by overturning the California Defense of Marriage Act. The official ballot title language for Proposition 8 was “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” The entirety of the text to be added to the constitution is: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

From Wiki

I’ll warn you in advance that this post will be rather disjointed, since I have several somewhat related points to discuss. I’m really surprised that a state as liberally minded as California could pass such an amendment. I suppose my comprehension of this is a bit skewed since I cannot see why the idea of same-sex marriage is so disturbing to people. Its not as if anyone is being forced to marry someone of the same sex. In fact, this is the business of those choosing to be married and not affecting anyone else. This ties in with abortion in that it is the conservatives, who constantly talk about the government keeping out of other’s lives, wanting the government to check personal choices. Apparently the libertarian thinking relates only to money and the like.

Regardless, there were some interesting statistics involved in the vote:

ABC News exit polls found that blacks voted in support of Prop 8 and to ban gay marriage by heavier margins than other ethnic groups. The exit polls indicated that 70 percent of black voters supported Prop 8, while 49 percent of whites and Asian Americans voted for it and 53 percent of Latinos supported the ban.

I found this to be the most interesting. The fact that people who fought so hard for civil rights in this country, who saw an African American rise above all the racial bias and bigotry to take the highest seat of power in the United States, voted in such numbers to take rights away from another group struggling just as hard is astounding.

Reading WordPress several days ago I found the posting of another blogger, a conservative blogger, with a rather audacious idea: Legally end marriage. That may sound crazy, and if I still had the link to the blog I’d post it, but consider this: Marriage is a religious institution. It has been taken up as a legal term and is used as a legally binding contract. But what if we removed the word “marriage” from the legal books and left it to religions? What if we changed our wording to “civil unions” through the legal system. That way we could allow civil unions for anyone who wanted to get one and let religions handle the marriage world by themselves. Separate church and state, religion and government, as Thomas Jefferson suggested in his letters so many years ago.

And also, since some people at least are aware of my distaste for local radio station AM1500, KSTP talk radio in Minneapolis, I thought I’d discuss something I heard on the show “Garage Logic” two days ago. Host Joe Soucheray was talking about this:

A Stone Age burial in central Germany has yielded the earliest evidence of people living together as a family.

The 4,600-year-old grave contained the remains of a man, woman and two youngsters, and DNA analysis shows they were a mother, father and their children.

“Their unity in death suggests unity in life,” researchers said in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


He went from talking about this, a scientific finding that suggests that nuclear families existed 4,600 years ago, to suggesting that throughout history no society has ever accepted same-sex marriage. In other words, using this science to support the passing of proposition 8 and thus the outlawing of same-sex marriage. But is our society the first to ever try to allow same-sex marriages? A book by Andrew Sullivan would suggest otherwise:

Same-Sex Marriage in History

One of the recurring clichés of the same-sex marriage debate is that the very notion of such a thing is a radical departure from anything entertained before in human history. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. In many cultures and in many eras, the issue has emerged-and the themes of the arguments are quirkily similar. Same-sex love, as Plato’s Symposium shows, is as ancient as human love, and the question of how it is recognized and understood has bedeviled every human civilization. In most, it has never taken the form of the modern institution of marriage, but in some, surprisingly, it has. In seventeenth-century China and nineteenth-century Africa, for example, the institution seems identical to opposite-sex marriage. In other cultures (see the debate between Brent Shaw and Ralph Hexter) the meaning of same-sex unions remains opaque and complex. In Native American society, marriage between two men was commonplace, but its similarity to contemporary lesbian and gay marriages is far from evident. And today in a number of foreign countries, laws extending civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples have been or will soon be enacted. Judge for yourself what this might mean for our current convulsion. One thing emerges clearly: this issue is not a modern invention. The need to balance human dignity and social norms is as old as civilization itself. Although much of the past history of this debate has been buried until recently, it has begun to emerge again with all the passion that now crackles through modern Western culture.

My suggestion to Soucheray would be to do your research a bit beforehand. It seems a bit preemptive to dive into a conversation on a publicly available media source without examining the background of your suggestions first. Although, I must say that the majority of the “information” provided on AM1500 is not news and shouldn’t be taken as so. It is just the punditry of uniformed individuals ranting on the topics that annoy them and not adding any truly worthwhile suggestions in return.

In the end, I hope that the passing of proposition 8 does not discourage the people in the GLBT community. Keep fighting the good fight and do not go calmly into the night. I’m sure you won’t. I was heartened this last weekend seeing a rally up in the Great Cold North of Duluth, Minnesota. I know that whatever the setbacks, people with a goal and a desire, especially one with such a deep place in the heart, will never stop.