The right of gay and lesbian couples to enter into a legally recognized marriage has traditionally been met with great opposition. However, four months after a landmark California Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage, a significant social shift has occurred.
For years, social conservatives feared that homosexual marriages would crumble the long-standing institution of heterosexual unions, hence the creation of laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act. However, in reality there has been no discernible impact on traditional marriage. With gay marriage legalized, society and the institution of marriage have not disintegrated. Thus, there appears to be a change in public opinion toward the acceptance of gay marriage. For instance, in 2000, 61 percent of Californian voters supported a ban on gay marriage. However, today multiple polls show that by a margin of 54 to 40, Californians are in support of permitting gay marriages, suggesting that a solid majority of Californians will vote in favor of gay marriage.
Proposition 8 would eliminate the fundamental right to marry for same-sex couples. It specifies, by a one-sentence amendment to the state constitution that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Advocates of Proposition 8 make three arguments.
The first is that throughout human history marriage has been solely defined as an act between a man and a woman. Considering how Californians are known to be more progressive and open to change, this appeal is not likely to hold much water.
The second argument made by supporters is that gay and lesbian couples can have domestic partnerships, which have the same “rights, benefits and protections as married spouses.” However, the truth of the matter is that domestic partnerships are not the same as marriage. The state of California clearly identifies real differences between marriage and domestic partnerships. For example, domestic partnerships are just legal documents and do not provide the same respect and dignity found in marriage. Furthermore, in a marriage when your spouse is sick, there is no confusion when you go with them to the hospital and help make life and death decisions, no questions asked. However, in emergency rooms today, domestic partnerships just aren’t enough. Only the bond of marriage provides the security and certainty that couples can count on in times of adversity.
The third argument made by advocates of Proposition 8 is that it protects children from being taught in public schools that same-sex marriage is identical to traditional heterosexual marriage. Once again, do not be fooled. Proposition 8 is about marriage only, and has nothing to do with schools or education. Regardless of how you feel about the issue, we should not limit the rights and fundamental freedoms that every Californian deserves.
Proposition 8 basically gives the government the right to interfere in our private lives by telling couples who they can and cannot marry, and that’s wrong. We should all remember that gay and lesbian people are our friends, our family members and our fellow classmates. They are caring and committed couples who want nothing more than to have the basic human right to get married. So come Election Day, don’t vote to take away the freedom, equality, dignity and respect that everyone in California, whether straight or gay, deserves.
Natalie Goudarzian is a third-year international studies major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed Under: Opinion