Calif. amendment banning same-sex marriage not only deprives gays and lesbians of fundamental rights; it’s also blatantly religious
For most of my life I was told that America was a classless society. That was the big lie.
You know, the one that Hitler defined in "Mein Kampf": A lie so "colossal" that few would believe anyone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously".
I saw the truth of this during the Civil Rights struggle in the 1950s and ’60s, and today it becomes evident again with the California Supreme Court ruling upholding Proposition 8 while affirming the marriages that took place during the brief period same-sex marriage was legal in California.
California, and indeed the rest of the country, has three classes of people:
First, the privileged class called heterosexuals who can marry whomever they wish as long as they are of opposite gender.
Then there is the underclass, lesbians and gays who are forbidden to marry their partners of the same sex in all but five states.
Finally there is the strange "other" class. These are Californians who married their chosen partners of the same sex prior to the passage of Prop 8. Only 18,000 or so strong, they make up a very strange class indeed.
One problem is California law, which allows wacko citizen ballot initiatives. This means that all you have to do to discriminate against a particular group is get together enough support and pass a proposition during an election. If it meets a few very loose legal qualifications it be comes law.
More than once this has caused havoc in California.
The infamous Proposition 13 limited property taxes in the state to 1 percent of the cash value of the property. Is it any wonder California is facing a massive budget shortfall?
The second problem is the whole premise of Proposition 8 itself. No matter how you look at it, the underpinnings of this discriminatory law are religious.
All the arguments for passing it were wrapped in not-so-subtle religious arguments and were backed by the considerable monetary power of churches, specifically the Mormons.
The courts in Iowa realized that prohibition of same-sex marriage is little more than a blurring of church-state separation and they threw it out. Unfortunately, the California court based their decision on the lawsuit that was brought against the initiative.
That suit stated that the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group — lesbian and gay Californians.
I have to wonder if arguing that it was a blatantly religious law would have been a better tact?
All that is water under the bridge now.
I feel sure that another initiative will be crafted to repeal Prop 8 in the near future, but the battle will continue until the courts pull away the veil and expose the whole thing for what it is.
If you are unclear, just ask a Prop 8 supporter why they don’t want gays and lesbians to have the right to marry.
You will get a variety of responses, but most will toss in the word "God," or an allusion to the "fabric of society," which is code for "it’s in the Bible."
It’s time we brought our founding fathers into this mess, and ask them if they would allow a church-inspired mandate to be the law of the land? Somehow I doubt they would — and neither should we.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 29, 2009.