When I first heard of Proposition 8, I was deeply offended and shocked that not everyone viewed this clearly as a human rights issue. If you were to ask my opinion of the definition of marriage; marriage in this country is a joke. With a growing 50% divorce rate and most people not even bothering to be wed before moving in or having children, marriage has become a societal JOKE. Additionally, with the rampant report and unreported incidents and habitual forms of physical, mental and spiritual abuse within the home, abandonment and abuse of children and spouses, the definition of FAMILY seems to have become nothing more than a traditional philosophy more than an actual, respected practice within the United States. At this point in our county's history, if ANYONE desires to commit themselves to fidelity, financial responsibility and family to another, I am all for it. It's great to know there are still people who WANT to take responsibility for one another.
I have prayed, fasted and spent many hours wrestling with the concept of supporting Prop 8. In my desire to understand the proponent's side, I even attended meetings to discuss the Proposition and in attempts to be helpful and prepare the proponents for concerns and sensitivities the opposing side might have, I ended up being personally attacked and scorned. Even though I had already said that- for my own personal reasons- I was choosing to support the campaign! But because I was sensitive to certain phrases or points that I felt expressed fear or ignorance, I became the enemy among my own constituents! I left feeling sick that I would actually CHOOSE to align myself with those who supported the Proposition that would hold such ignorant and insensitive perspectives. But I pressed on with the knowledge that certain individuals, as offensive as I might find their views, were just trying to do what they felt was right.
Personally, I'm not threatened by same-sex unions. As I told one of my best friends who is homosexual, I WANT my children to know him- I want my children to recognize him as part of my family. And certainly, when he finds someone he wants to commit the rest of his life to, I will absolutely support him. I have a great love for my friends, several of whom are gay, and I am delighted when they find someone who loves and believes and trusts in them enough to want to form a commitment and form a family together.
So why am I voting for Proposition 8?
My support of commitment and gay marriage aside, the implications of what Proposition 8 will do to affect Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech is what concerns me. There are much deeper issues present than the ones which are easily and simplistically conveyed through the various emotionally charged propaganda from both sides on TV. The fact is, Prop 8 does not ask to take away any of the rights gay couples have to commitment; unfortunately (as we saw in the 60s and 70s Housing Discrimination Act) the failure to follow up and prosecute those not upholding the laws and rights of gay unions are what's holding us back. Until we have lawyers and individuals tenacious enough to demand that their existing rights be enforced, there will be discrimination. However, concerning Prop 8, those rights ARE there.
As for my opinions on Human Rights, when an individuals rights seemingly come in conflict with Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, I'm going to have to rule with the latter two. Let me give an example: I am Mormon. It is my goal to be married in the sacred temple. However, merely a desire to be married in the House of God is not enough; I must abide by certain laws of the church and if I choose not to live according to those doctrines (the Word of Wisdom, sexual purity and morality, the Law of Tithe, etc.), I should not expect nor demand to enter the sacred ordinance of marriage in the temple. As a practicing Mormon in good standing with the church, I accept this as my choice to live in accordance with God's laws in order to be found worthy to enter the sacred temple. However, should Prop 8 fail and a homosexual couple approach the temple and request a marriage ceremony and they are refused- all of a sudden, that denial can be LEGALLY interpreted as discrimination and the entire worldwide church can be sued. The same will go for other churches whose doctrines denote that homosexuality is a sin and not in accordance with their spiritual laws; should the church deny the right of marriage to those who (under the SPIRITUAL law) are found unworthy, they can legally be held for discrimination practice and will be forced to either change the doctrine of their church, or close their doors. No matter that there are plenty of other denominations who DO support and perform gay marriages; if Prop 8 fails and you approach a church which does not condone homosexual practice, that church will be forced to conform to a government law over their spiritual laws and the church has now become subject to the government. Separation of church and state is typically considered a safety for the churches to not dictate government law, but what are we suggesting if we allow the government to create new doctrines for the church contrary to their beliefs? Furthermore, churches and non-profits who do not condone homosexual practice or marriage would legally be liable to lose their tax-exempt status if they choose not to modify their spiritual laws to the laws of government. Churches, adoption agencies and private schools in Boston and Canada have already chosen to close their doors, rather than alter their fundamental spiritual doctrine of recognizing marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman.
Likewise, while I fully expect to educate and introduce my own children to my homosexual couple friends and do not fear nor find offense on this discussion in their classroom, I do not think that forcing private or religious educational institutions to teach something outside of their practice or doctrine is acceptable for the government to dictate. Nor do I think those private/religious institutions should be expected to either/or the situation; either teach homosexual practice in the classroom or be found guilty of discrimination and close your doors. If people CHOOSE to have their children in a private school, they have the right to dictate what is taught there- be it creationism or marriage between a man and a woman only. If you don't like the idea of that, don't send your kid to a private Catholic school. Furthermore, should Prop 8 fail and parents, teachers or religious institutions uphold standards of traditional family values (as in marriage between a man and a woman), they can legally be found guilty of performing hate speech and speaking up for traditional family values suddenly becomes a hate crime.
While I am very much an advocate for equal rights, human rights and civil rights, I am also very aware that our actions all have consequences. And that when human rights have the potential to discriminate and persecute Religious Freedom and Freedom of Speech- two primary principles our country was founded for- I must say; there is a better way. Let's increase the awareness and enforce the laws of civil unions we currently have and hold our government to the promises that were made to protect homosexual couples from discrimination NOW, without persecuting those who have traditional values and who are not discriminating, but living according to their eternal spiritual laws.
And on this note, let me be clear: If you are a proponent of Proposition 8 for ANY OTHER REASON than because you want to stand up for Religious Freedom and tolerance for traditional family values, if your stake in this is to persecute the homosexual community or to throw fear or hate into our churches, schools or community, PLEASE; DO NOT ALIGN YOURSELF WITH ME. I would rather stand alone in my declaration to support Proposition 8, than to have the support of those who are doing this for evil, ignorant or discriminatory reasons. Please. If you support Proposition 8, I ask that you do it with love and the understanding that this is to uphold traditional family values, not persecution of those who are different from you. Likewise for those who do not support Proposition 8, we need to prevent the persecution of traditional family values and increase our love and tolerance for those who may uphold values different from our own with the understanding that they are simply trying to live their standards in accordance with their own values. That neither of us is a threat to the other, but that we all deserve a little more understanding and a little more kindness.
Please, I ask that you forward this to your friends, family, re-post this article as much as you like. I'm not saying everyone needs to agree; I'm just asking that we try a little better to accept and understand one another. Please remember to vote November 4th.