This is an email my friend Camille sent out to her friends and neighbors about why she put a YES on PROP 8 sign on her lawn. I liked it. Here it is.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Most of you have probably noticed by now that we have had a Yes on Prop 8 sign in our yard for the past several weeks, showing our support for defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I know that not all of you share our views, and I want to say "thank you" for being such good and respectful friends and neighbors. I am one of only a handful of people I know with Yes on Prop 8 signs in their yard that have not experienced multiple sign thefts, acts of vandalism, or threats.
I tend to be a private political person. As a general rule, I do not discuss my voting preferences or record. I have learned through experience that voting is a very personal thing and one that many people are very passionate about; casual discussions can quickly escalate into heated debates and arguments. I have stretched beyond my comfort zone in this election to show my support for Proposition 8 because I see a real threat to values and freedoms that are important to me. I feel vulnerable and exposed, and I have been on the receiving end of horrible slurs and swear words for simply standing up for my beliefs. This has never happened to me before, and I'm not a big fan. :-) I understand that many of you don’t have the same concerns, belief system or paradigm that I do, so the purpose of this e-mail is to clarify that my support of Proposition 8 does not stem from gay-bashing, fear, hate, bigotry, intolerance, inequality or discrimination as some have accused. I hope that all of you, regardless of how you feel on the issue, know and recognize that there are legitimate and valid reasons to oppose gay marriage that are not founded in hate or intolerance. If you are interested in hearing mine, please keep reading.
My husband Sam is voting Yes on Prop 8 because the judges here clearly overstepped their bounds and made law rather than interpreting it, and he believes the original Proposition 22 should stand based on its 62% majority passage. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, this judicial activism is something that should concern everyone. The California Supreme Court exceeded its proper role when the 4-3 majority overturned Proposition 22. Citing from the two dissenting opinions:
Justice Marvin Baxter: “I cannot join this exercise in legal jujitsu, by which the Legislature’s own weight is used against it to create a constitutional right from whole cloth, defeat the People’s will, and invalidate a statute otherwise immune from legislative interference.”
Justice Carol Corrigan pointed out the fundamental flaws in the majority’s constitutional analysis and then criticized the four-judge majority: “The principle of judicial restraint is a covenant between judges and the people from whom their power derives. It protects the people against judicial overreaching. It is no answer to say that judges can break the covenant so long as they are enlightened or well-meaning.”
As an attorney, I was horrified and offended by the court’s activism and am still a bit stunned by the audacity of the judges. Nevertheless, I have chosen to move on…
For the record, I have three very close friends who are gay and are in or have been in committed relationships during the decade or so that I have known them. We worked together in a Washington, DC law firm for 6+ years. I love these friends, and they would tell you that I have always been respectful and supportive of them and their partners even though they know that I don't personally agree with or condone their chosen lifestyle. I would give a kidney to any one of them. I wish them only happiness and fulfillment in their lives. But I am still against gay marriage.
Our country is full of groups that claim discrimination and inequality, some with perhaps more legitimacy than others, but documentation for all exists: smokers, short people, obese people, polygamists, people with children, people without children, bald people, financially-challenged people (hence the need for the bailout), prostitutes, home-schooled children, female athletes… I could go on… Even Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer, was disturbingly rational in his argument with one of his victims (who had turned on an audiotape to record the conversation) that in essence, it was discrimination to value her right to life over his right to indulge his need to kill. (Note: I am not equating serial killing with gay marriage here; just using the example to illustrate a more general point!) Generally speaking, people within these groups may sometimes band together and view the world in egocentric and even hostile terms, ultimately pushing an agenda of "our rights in preference to your rights." That's human nature. But there is no way for absolute freedom to exist for all groups. To give rights to one group almost always means taking away rights from another group.
An example. Why is there a ban on smoking in public places like restaurants? Because the second-hand smoke inflicted on people without their consent can be annoying and ultimately cause harm. Society has determined that it is okay to discriminate against smokers in order to protect the non-smokers. This is how I view gay marriage. I am certainly in favor of equal rights, acceptance, and tolerance, but where there are significant protections like the domestic partnership laws in place to ensure that same sex couples enjoy virtually every legal right enjoyed by married couples (health care benefits, social security, inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, etc.), I feel okay about trying to limit my exposure to the second-hand smoke that will threaten religious freedom/liberty and compromise my own parental rights to instruct my children on moral issues as I see fit.
For those who say it is fear-mongering to say that there will be any impact on these things (and there are many that do), there is a recent publication entitled Same Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty, Emerging Conflicts that brings together the essays of ten law professors, left, right and center, who ALL say that the road ahead is a train wreck for religious liberty in its conflict with same-sex marriage. Many of those who are promoting gay marriage have already shown a lack of tolerance for any view that does not conform to theirs. For someone to say there will be "no impact" really means that the impact is one that they don't care about or give credence to; it's an "our rights/that group's rights in preference to your rights" argument. I have been surprised to see such an active campaign of hate, intolerance and discrimination against religious organizations and coalition members by a group that is complaining about hate, intolerance and discrimination.
There are already numerous examples of the litigation that will soon explode in California if Prop 8 doesn’t pass, as gay couples try to force acceptance of their marriages on all people and institutions, regardless of religious beliefs (and will even target religious people/places specifically to force them to do so):
In Canada, a pastor or minister who discussed moral beliefs from the Bible regarding homosexuality was sued for hate speech…and lost, after 5 years and lots of legal bills. (See http://tinyurl.com/CanadaHateCrime)
A Methodist church in New Jersey recently lost a lawsuit and its state tax-exempt status for refusing to lease its facilities for a same-sex marriage. (See http://tinyurl.com/NewJerseyTaxStatus)
A doctor in Southern California was sued for refusing to artificially inseminate a lesbian woman because it conflicted with her Christian beliefs; she had referred the woman to a doctor who did not have the same moral issues. (See http://tinyurl.com/GaySuesDR)
Photographers who prefer not to shoot same-sex weddings and civil unions for religious reasons are being sued. (See http://tinyurl.com/GaySuesPhotographer)
Catholic Charities was sued and forced to close their doors permanently in Massachusetts when state law required that the agency place children with same-sex couples, contrary to its religious beliefs. (See http://tinyurl.com/AdoptionAgencyClosed)
A few weeks ago in Hayward, CA, parents at a K-8 charter school (Faith Ringgold School of Art and Science) were shocked to learn the extent to which their school was promoting gay and lesbian ideals to their daughter in kindergarten. Posters promoting families all depicted only homosexual families, in honor of Gay and Lesbian History Month. “Ally Week” is a pro-homosexual push typically aimed at high school students to encourage acceptance. The school chose not to tell parents ahead of time.
A parent in Massachusetts, David Parker, was taken away in handcuffs when he went to complain to his daughter’s elementary school and ask the school to offer parental consent when he discovered his five year old daughter was being taught about same-sex marriages in kindergarten.
Some of you may not be religiously-minded. I know that there is a current trend in this country towards irreligiosity and the disallowance of certain opinions simply because they grow out of religious conviction. But I believe the traditional family to be ordained of God. I believe there is a reason for the duality of gender and for the biological requirement for both a man and a woman to create children. Around the world, the traditional concept of marriage is found in virtually every culture on earth and upheld as the basic unit of society. If we do away with the distinction between a man/woman marriage and a same-gender union and foster a "genderless" society, I believe there will be many unforeseen consequences. Like my son Cade’s “life is like a game of chess” analogy, I think that while this move appears to be fairly harmless to many people, we should be looking 5, 7, or 10 moves ahead to see what the consequences will really be for our future and for our society at large.
Clearly I have spent many hours on this issue over the past months and have considered my position very seriously. THANK YOU for listening. This was much longer than I intended it to be...and I still had to edit myself! For those who share my views and join me in voting YES on Prop 8, I hope you can feel validated by reading my reasoning and arguments. For those of you that disagree with me, I respect your views, thank you for reading, and hope that you will at least consider the “Yes” side from a more sympathetic and less judgmental angle than the “No” side has been depicting. Regardless of the outcome of the vote on this, I fear there will be fall-out and continued polarization and divisiveness. I hope all of us can work together to offset that in our own little ways. (And no, I won't be asking you how you voted!!)
We love our neighborhood and friends and are so grateful for all of you, differences and all. We are so blessed by our associations with you. We look forward to many more years of conversations, park outings and get-togethers.
Note: There are lots of faiths supporting the traditional definition of the family, and who are part of a coalition to promote the Yes on 8 campaign :
Catholic: “The Roman Catholic Church believes that marriage is a faithful, exclusive, and lifelong union between one man and one woman, joined as husband and wife in an intimate partnership of life and love. This union was established by God with its own proper laws.” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Lutheran: Missouri Synod: “we pray that all people, especially men and women properly united as husbands and wives, will honor God’s divinely ordained relationship of marriage.”
Southern Baptist Convention: “affirm that legal and biblical marriage can only occur between one man and one woman.” June 2003.
The National Association of Evangelicals believes that God created us male and female. Furthermore, the biblical record shows that sexual union was established exclusively within the context of a male-female relationship (Genesis 2:24), and formalized in the institution of marriage. The partner for man was woman. Together they were to be one flesh, in the New Testament, the oneness of male and female in marriage pictures the relationship between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:22-33).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons): “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”