California's Proposition 8 Means H8…or does it?

October 27, 2008

Apologies for my regular readers. This one will be almost entirely political with very little connection to my usual topics, although personal bigotry sometimes comes up in tenure cases.
I debated putting this up over on A Vote for Science but the overlords begged us to stick to science politics and not turn that into a generalized political ranting blog. [ Update 10/28/08: I gathered enough science-related thoughts to put another post up at A Vote for Science on this topic. ]
Consideration of California’s Proposition 8 and the arguments for and against does not encourage your humble narrator to rational discourse.

From the California voter guide site linked above, here’s what we’re talking about:

* Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.
* Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Now, you all are big kids and I’m sure know all of the context here. If not, you can google it up in a trice.
What I’m concerned about here is the logic. It sucks. Completely and totally. I am waiting, begging someone, anyone, to explain to me how these efforts are not just about hatred for our fellow citizens.
I’ve been listening. Really, I have. So far, I have this.
Traditional Marriage. Hah! This argument betrays a woeful and perhaps intentional misunderstanding of the history of marriage and marriage-like social relationships.
Ruinzed Marriage. Really. I’m racking my brain trying to sort out all the threats to my marriage. In terms of things that affect my relationship with my spouse, gays also being able to marry is like eleventyfuckinggazillion, eightquadrillion and seventy six. Seriously. How exactly is this supposed to work? How does it compare to other marriage threatening events like money woes for the poor and working classes, mortgage threats, healthcare crises, stress of childrearing in our modern world, the “me” generation, etc, etc, et cetera ad nauseaum.
“Against Nature”. Please. A woeful misunderstanding of animal “nature”, the history and present status of human behavior, recent biological, sociological and psychological evidence on what it means to be “gay”. Also, I have a REALLY hard time getting past the comparison to the Loving v. Virginia US Supreme Court decision. You know, the one that struck down laws against marriage between individuals of different apparent races? In 1967? Do you remember your history? Did you live through that era? Are not the current arguments hauntingly familiar? Trust me, they are. Did inter-racial marriages RUINZ marriage, society and children? Hell no. We academics and scientists know this as well as anyone- I don’t know that I have stats but at a big research U community it becomes hard to find kids running around who do NOT have parents of different apparent races…. Go visit this blog for more expanded thoughts on the mixed-Americans and of course razib is always posting some mixed-race hottie or other who contributes positively to many people’s lives.
Child Rearing. Nope. First of all, any social stigma is….wait for it….caused by the anti-gay forces themselves! So score that one for the antis not for the supporters of civil rights for Gay-Americans. The science, meaning the child development specialists, trends toward “no problem”. Those of us who have children out and about in the child’s social world in a decent sized city also have our anecdotes. And from my limited anecdotes, no problem. Nice well adjusted children of Gay-American families. Gay-Americans who are also going out and fostering, adopting and caring for children who need parents. I have no problem there either- kids need parents and adoption is a VeryGoodThing in my book. Single parents, divorced parents, need-to-be-divorced-but-aren’t parents, jerk-parents, reluctant-parents….the list goes on and on of potentially adverse circumstances for children, many with actual evidence of harm. So why should a state be singling out one unsupported theoretical threat for a constitutional amendment?
I’m sure there are other classes of arguments and I’d like to hear something that sounds halfway rational. Have any of you Californians heard anything that makes any kind of sense?
Because from where I sit, all I hear that makes any consistent sense in any of this is the following:
“I just don’t like gay people, in fact I fear and hate them.”
Honestly. And here’s the thing. In our USian secular society we don’t have a policy of taking away rights of our fellow citizens just because we can or because we don’t like them. It is not the American way. Even if we have stumbled in our past or failed to live up to the great promises at present, we don’t do this.
You will recall from your history books that even slavery and women’s suffrage issues were surrounded by (crap) rationalizations. The argument was not “just because”. And now, most Americans find the argument that other people should be chattel because of the shade of their skin or their place of origin wrong. Most Americans think that women are quite capable of voting in a way that will not RUINZ! our country. We have, as a population, shed many, many of our bigotries and mis-beliefs in the name of equality, democracy and civil rights. We look back and often sneer at those wrongheaded and ignorant views of past generations.
Well, I’m sneering at the H8rs right about now. What on earth is wrong with you people?
Feel free to blog this issue, even if you aren’t a Californian and heck, even if you support Prop 8 (tell me where I’m wrong here, please). If you think this is wrongheaded you might even donate to the No on 8 effort.

No Responses Yet to “California's Proposition 8 Means H8…or does it?”

  1. Billy Taylor Says:

    I’m a gay Californian and I just wanted to thank you for speaking out and encouraging others to act.


  2. Proposition 8 supporters are not approaching this issue from a rational public policy perspective; they are approaching it from a homophobia perspective. These people are squicked by dudes fucking each other in the ass, and rather than accept the fact that public policy should not be based on what squicks someone out, they make up all kinds of fake-ass bullshit rationalizations for their irrational disgust.


  3. BikeMonkey Says:

    Even the arch-conservative San Diego paper is against 8, which says something.

    In the past, this page has advocated civil unions for gay couples rather than marriage. But our thinking has changed, along with that of many other Californians. Gay and lesbian couples deserve the same dignity and respect in marriage that heterosexual couples have long enjoyed. We urge a No vote on Proposition 8.


  4. Those alleged arguments make me sick. You are right, the parallels to previous attempts to outlaw inter-racial marriage are striking to everyone except the bigoted. Good luck with this one.
    (From an immigrant from one country that allows gay marriage to another one).


  5. chris Says:

    Goodluck. There aren’t any non-H8er arguments in favor. If there are I haven’t heard them.
    Here in Minnesota a few years ago that odious troll Michele Bachmann tried to introduce a similar measure. One night I was watching the news with my wife and her mother. Mother-in-law watches the story and then turns to me and says, “Well, why should we let them get married?”
    That’s part of the problem. This idea that the poor gays are to be treated like children, and that somehow we (the non-gays) are arbiters of their wants and needs. My response, by the way, “Why shouldn’t we?” She never responded.


  6. DrugMonkey Says:

    Cath to clarify slightly, Cali is just one of 50 states so whatever they end up doing is only part of the puzzle. The individual states are all over the map with respect to legislation. Some legalize secular “unions” or some such. Some have bans enshrined in their constitutions already.
    So the parallels with the Loving v. Virginia case are going to be increasingly important. In that case, the black/white couple wed somewhere it was permitted (Wash DC, I believe), moved back to their home state of Virginia and were promptly arrested for RUININGZZZ!! the state or some such crime. (The Wikipedia article notes that the police broke into their bedroom hoping to catch them having sex which would have been an additional crime apparently. If I am not mistaken the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas SCOTUS decision took this out of the present picture)
    We are perhaps not going to have a time when same-sex couples are actually arrested when moving to one of the anachronistic states. But the legal issues of whether states have to respect other states’ marriage laws will eventually get to the Supreme Court.
    Which makes the nature of the members of that Court over the next decade all important does it not?


  7. James F Says:

    “Against nature.” Seems there’s no new tale to tell.


  8. I knew that 😉
    The first few steps are sometimes the most important though. Legalisation of gay marriage in a couple of Canadian provinces quickly led to federal legislation. Gay weddings are a huge niche market now – the positive effect on the economy has apparently won some of our own H8ers over!


  9. And if the economic argument doesn’t get ’em, maybe the sporting argument will!


  10. Sure thing: blogged here (hope that goes through) about it, and have some links to a few other places where it is discussed. I’ve heard that there’s a very good chance this tyrannical proposition will not pass.


  11. rpenner Says:

    How a H8er argument FOR Prop 8?
    “A vote for 8 is a vote for legal endorsement of homosexual fornication!”


  12. Karen Says:

    If you happen to believe that some deity thinks homosexual relationships are sinful, and if you also happen to believe that this same deity has a habit of taking it’s anger out on large populations, you might properly argue that allowing gays to marry might be endangering your own life/family/property. Of course, if this is your mindset, you tend to ignore the evidence that at the very least, your deity has really lousy aim.
    Isn’t that why the Pagan Romans persecuted the Christians in the first place? I seem to recall reading that the Romans were pissed because the Christians wouldn’t do their civic duty and sacrifice to the local deities. This was expected to piss off the deity and thus endanger the town/city/province, since it’s blessing was needed to help prevent invasions and natural disasters.
    Let’s hear it for first century thinking…


  13. N.B. Says:

    DrugMonkey has busted out the can opener and exposed the oily sardines of fundamentalist thought for what they are.
    …or…something like that. Come of think of which, you don’t even need a can opener to open sardine tines, thanks to that little key thing. Let’s try this again.
    DrugMonkey has busted out a pipe wrench and pried open the septic tank of fundamentalist thought, exposing the fecal matter contained within the homophobic mind. There. That works.


  14. Amen, DrugMonkey. As the product of a (disgustingly happy) interracial marriage, I find Proposition 8 to be personally as well as philosophically offensive for many of the reasons you list. Some douchewastrel(tm) in my SoCal (!) neighborhood had the gall to erect a big stupid yellow lawn sign with “Yes on 8” in black letters above the silhouettes of a heterosexual couple with young children sandwiched between them. Had I not been late on my way out of town, and were I not a total pussy, I would have abruptly parked my car amid the road, jumped out, stolen it, and thrown that shit in some recycling bin where it belongs. Prop 8 represents the worst consequences of the CA initiative process. . . not that I know enough to be able to propose some novel solution . . .


  15. Zeno Says:

    My parents got their marching orders from their priest at mass last Sunday. They’re obligated to vote for Proposition 8 to “protect” marriage. I told them it’s a bunch of nonsense. How does it affect their marriage if their gay nephew can get married? Oh, they wouldn’t mind if it were just about him, but it threatens the children! Oh, and how is that, exactly? If Proposition 8 passes, it just means that today’s kids who grow up gay won’t have the option of getting married to someone they love. Doesn’t sound like protecting the children to me.


  16. Nemo Says:

    Don’t forget Florida’s Amendment 2! Same shit, different state. I’m guessing this has gotten less publicity than Prop 8 because a) Prop 8 would actually take away an established right, and b) Amendment 2 is just the latest in a long line of similar measures that will probably coast to victory, while Prop 8 is one that looks like it might actually be defeated for once.
    But, prove me wrong — defeat Amendment 2, too!


  17. C. Chu Says:

    And Arizona’s Prop 102, also same shit, also a different state. It is pretty much the same as Prop 8, trying to write into the constitution an amendment defining marriage.
    Except we beat this prop 4 years ago, overwhelmingly. I have no idea how it came back. We’re not nearly as red as people say we are.


  18. TreeFish Says:

    I’m slightly to the right of Mussolini, and a church-going, God-fearing Irish Catholic boy…but I’ve always thought that banning gay marriage was just plain silly.
    Let’s agree with constitutional scholars and Supreme Court Justices, who have interpreted the 1st Amendment to support the separation of church and state. The religious arguments against homosexuality primarily center on a broad dictum that embraces sex between man and woman to procreate in a union that symbolizes how the Holy Trinity was created. The people arguing against homosexuality use the converse to argue that any sex not intended to symbolize such creation (e.g., including pre-marital sex, one-night stands, and homosexuality) is against our greater morality as humans, which sets us apart from the other organisms in the animal kingdom…essentially, a philosophical and romantic argument that presumes humankind’s special role/rank on Earth. Before everyone bashes the Roman Catholics, let’s reiterate that Catholic priests and nuns can be gay, but they still have to vow celibacy. Remember Father Mychal Judge, the priest that died on 9/11? Self-declared gay male, but celibate.
    Clearly, then, banning homosexual marriage is allowing Christianity (or, more accurately, Catholic doctrine also adopted by Protestant religions) to dictate law. That is clearly against the 1st Amendment. Though I’m a Catholic boy, I see nothing wrong with two people committing to each other in a ceremony of state-recognized marriage. I think that a gay married couple should get the same tax breaks as a ‘straight’ married couple; and I also think that both should get bigger tax breaks when they have kids.
    My state has never had a referendum on this particular issue, but this also came about in 2004 and proved to be an effective way of getting what CPP would call sickfuckrightwingwackaloons to the polls on election day (note of disclosure, I support McCain-Palin, but will write-in DM and CPP). But, Hell’s bells, allowing homosexual marriage might also help us reduce the goddamn number of abortions in this country, so you would think that conservatives would entertain special incentives for married couples (homo- and hetero) that adopt kids.
    I’m a romanticist (philosophically) and a humanist, and I espouse the virtues of love to all (even CPP!). If you love someone, set them free. That freedom should include the right to marry and raise kids…and school vouchers (I had to sneak that in!).


  19. I support McCain-Palin

    Then you’re either a racist misogynist theocratic fuckknuckle, a greedfuck plutocrat asshole, or you’re just plain fucking delusional. Period.


  20. TreeFish Says:

    I like to think of myself as a delusional asshole fucknuckle. Importantly, however, I am not a theocrat: I didn’t say that I endorse the Church’s argument against homosexuality or premarital sex or one night stands– I simply communicated it to the readers, showing that I comprehend the Church’s philosophical reasons behind its position. I disagree with the blanket racist angle, but that is for another discussion, perhaps over beers and whiskey at SFN.
    I would also like to think that my disclosure lead to the coining of some new phrases (e.g., a Google search on “theocratic fucknuckle” yields no results!).


  21. pinus Says:

    How about a post on the recent anti-science campaigning by McCain-Palin? I am sure that would generate some interesting discussion.


  22. ponderingfool Says:

    One thing I am curious about such laws, how are man and woman defined?
    If it is based on genotype, this would lead to a number of people excluded who could normally marry prior to even the CA Supreme Court ruling that the CA Constitution does not bar same-sex marriages. Phenotype is not always clear cut either. Biology is messy, rare to find a definition in biology that holds 100% of the time.


  23. Jesus on a Ritz cracker – when is this country going to focus on real tangible problems that address true human suffering rather than enforce institutionalized hate and intolerance? As Rev Al (of whom I’m not otherwise a terribly huge fan) said at the 2004 Democratic convention, our goal “is not to determine who may sleep together in the bedroom, it’s to help those that might not be eating in the kitchen.”
    I was in Colorado during 1992 when Amendment 2 was passed by 53.4%, in part because the wording of the statute was unclear and many voters were not sure what a yes or no vote meant. Supported by the oxymoronic group, Colorado for Family Values, the legislation prevented the LGBT community from being protected by any discrimination laws, thereby overturning local protective statutes in places like Denver and Aspen. A 1996 US Supreme Court ruling overturned the amendment as unconstitutional, while Scalia wrote the dissent on behalf of Thomas and Rehnquist.
    I remember having a bumper sticker (no magnets back then as magnetism had not yet been discovered) stating, “Hate is Not a Family Value” and “Focus on Your Own Damn Family” in reference to Dobson’s Focus on the Family group.
    I’ve said this on homegirl Pam Spaulding’s blog, but I can attest to the love, ethics, values, and self-confidence instilled in our daughter at daycare and preschool by a good number of single LG individuals and married LG couples. Their dedication to childhood development was above and beyond the call of duty and I will take them as friends and family-equivalents any day over these hypocritical hatemongers.
    And re #15 about your folks getting their marching orders at mass, I’m fine with that as long as churches and other places of worship that conduct such political lobbying relinquish their non-profit status.
    It’s totally cool to have this here on a science blog, BrotherDrug, and I applaud you for taking the time. It is important for us all to be involved in our communities and support social justice. Hell, some of these folks are scientists and physicians even!


  24. Stella Says:

    We may be preaching to the converted here, but please see the link >
    Many thanks.


  25. marilove Says:

    I live in Arizona, and we have Prop 102, which is basically the same thing as Prop 8. Except … we already have laws on the books making same-sex marriage illegal. is the website. Yeah, YES for marrige, because … voting against same-sex marriage is somehow pro-marriage. YUCK.
    I must say, however, that I was really surprised and happy yesterday when I drove by an old church that I’ve seen many times in Phoenix — and they had “Vote NO against Prop 102” signs ALL OVER. I nearly stopped, went inside, and hugged everyone. I am an atheist, but that church I could get down with. I don’t even think it’s a unitarian church!


  26. marilove Says:

    I support McCain-Palin
    Then you’re either a racist misogynist theocratic fuckknuckle, a greedfuck plutocrat asshole, or you’re just plain fucking delusional. Period.

    I keep saying this and people keep telling me I’m mean. This is why I love you, PhysioProf. Seriously.


  27. AtheistAcolyte Says:

    Yes on 8!
    Protect Marriage!
    Criminalize Divorce!
    … wait, it’s about what?


  28. DrugMonkey Says:

    I have another post up at A Vote for Science on this topic: Enshrining homophobia in California, Arizona and Florida. It was motivated by some commenters here and particularly a reference to some data from a commenter at Zeno’s place. Thanks to all of you.
    PP @#19 ; marilove @#26: I disagree with many right wing and Republican political views. Nevertheless there is a critical distinction between ones that make a certain sense from a certain perspective and the ones that are completely ungrounded in any sort of reality. Ones that exhibit some sort of internal consistency and logic and those that are defended on transparently illogical, hypocritical and fantastical grounds. Greed, power grabbing and selfishness are understandable. This anti-gay-marriage thing is not.


  29. Pieter B Says:

    My question to the pro-8 folks is “What part of ‘with liberty and justice for ALL‘ do you not understand?”


  30. BikeMonkey Says:

    Ha, it turns out that a vote for Prop 8 in California is actually a vote for tolerance!

    What it ignores is the existence of Americans � millions of them, most likely � who believe something like this: They acknowledge, or firmly insist, that gays and lesbians are human beings, as fully citizens and as equal in dignity and worth as their straight neighbors. These Americans recognize that gays and lesbians have often been the victims of senseless prejudice, discrimination and violence. They readily agree that gays and lesbians are as entitled to �the pursuit of happiness� as anyone else, and that it is a good thing for gays and lesbians, like everyone else, to enjoy stable, loving personal relationships.
    What these Americans do not believe is that same-sex unions are in all respects equivalent to traditional marriage.

    Right, ‘sclown. Except the people who are for this nonsense are the exact same people that have hated on every bloody aspect of teh gay. Now this guy is suggesting that they really love and respect their gay family, friends neighbors and coworkers? Now that they’ve lost on their prior issues? Doesn’t pass the smell test.
    This traditional views is a complete red herring. You do not get to have any old “traditional” views respected! Do we really need to recite the list of “traditional” views which we have rejected over the course of US history?


  31. marilove Says:

    I HATE THIS TOLERANCE BULL SHIT. When I am “tolerating” something or someone, I am not accepting them or loving them. When I tolerated my younger sister when she used to bug the shit out of my sisters and I, there was no acceptance — I tolerated her to keep the peace.
    Tolerance is bull fucking crap.


  32. marilove Says:

    Notice, DrugMonkey, that we were talking specifically about McCain/Palin. Honestly, if anyone still supports those fucktards, they are morons. Period.


  33. Becca Says:

    The “traditional marriage” argument: if marriage has no definition outside of cultural fads, then there is a pretty good chance that sooner or later the culture is going to shift to something currently unpaletable to many. Personally, I’m pretty pro-bigamy, but I’m guessing most people aren’t.
    The ruinz! marriage argument assumes that that certain people are working on their marriages because there is social pressure to do so, and that this social pressure exists because of how we view marriage. I can see the argument that going from viewing marriage as a sacred covenant to viewing it as a fashion statement could make you less likely to take it seriously.
    The social stigma argument boils down to a “we need change from the bottom up” argument. It’s probably true (in the world as it is) that kids in non-heteronormative families will face different (and in many respects, more formidable) challenges than kids in sterotypical 1950s nuclear families.
    The unspoken argument is not “I hate and fear gay people” per se but “I hate and fear having my way of viewing the world challenged”.
    For a lot of people in the GLBTA community, legalizing gay marriage is part of a cohesive long-term strategy to change people’s minds and hearts (it’s a top-down way to foster a culture that accepts them). A lot of social conservatives resist that. I’m inclined to believe all the other arguments are smoke and mirrors designed to disguise the fact they just don’t want to change.
    “In our USian secular society we don’t have a policy of taking away rights of our fellow citizens just because we can or because we don’t like them.” Oh DM. It’s beautiful that you believe in the importance of protecting rights (I’m in full agreement!). But so did people who lived back when we didn’t have sufferage for women, or back when we had slavery, or back when we were genociding Native Americans.
    How do you know that, in another couple of hundred years, the rights of minors to vote, or the right of access to healthcare for everyone, or the right of citizenship itself for everyone living here and contributing to society won’t be protected?
    For all I know, I might live to see us protecting the rights of animals (or even plants!) to live with dignity! Or your right to stick to sheep (Baa means “I do”?).
    The point is, in a secular society, we are not endowed by our creator with all of our rights inalienable. We have to figure them out as we go along. And that is why change is always far too slow, or far too terrifying, depending on who you ask.


  34. marilove Says:

    “Personally, I’m pretty pro-bigamy, but I’m guessing most people aren’t. ”
    Becca, I have quite a few poly friends, and I am very pro-bigamy/pro-poly marriage, if all parties consent and aren’t pressured. My best friends are in a “threesome” relationship — a married man and wife and their boyfriend — and if they could marry, they would in a heartbeat.
    That’ll never happen, however.
    “For all I know, I might live to see us protecting the rights of animals (or even plants!) to live with dignity! Or your right to stick to sheep (Baa means “I do”?).”
    …And, no. Animals cannot give consent.


  35. Angie Says:

    See what I don’t understand is why everyone on this page feels the need to use profanity as a way of clear communication. Yes, we are all adults and yes, we can speak like adults, so let’s do that. My problem is that citizens who choose the gay and homosexual lifestyle are attempting to call their union “sacred.” That’s not so. I don’t dislike you, I dislike your lifestyle. There are many people in California who are not Christians who do not want the sanctity of marriage tainted, nor do they want the meaning changed by lifestyle choices. God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman. That is what is needed for procreation. All the vulgar things aforementioned are unnecessary to say. Justifying your lifestyle and calling us racist or fearful of you or your lifestyle is not true. There may be a few that are homophobic, but for the most part, people just want what’s right to be right. And a man lying with another man and a woman lying with another woman in a sexual relationship and calling it “marriage,” is wrong. As far as men and women adopting, well, that’s another matter. True, kids do need a mother and a father, but in a same sex relationship, who will be whom? A woman can’t teach a boy to be a man and a man cannot teach a girl how to be a woman. He and she can be taught male and female ways, but not how to “be” a real man or woman. If I chose to drive 102mph without my seat belt on, under the influence of some drug or alcohol and drive carelessly, then that is my choice. No one made me do it, nor did anyone make me that way. Stupidity is learned, not inbred. Just as homosexuality is learned, not inbred. Saying that one is born gay is saying that God makes mistakes. And God does not make mistakes. We do.


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