The Real Prop 8 Issue

Watching the Yes on Prop 8 ads has been painful.  It’s painful because the arguments tossed about are so absurd that I’m baffeled as to why this is even close.  How on earth can it be?

It’s close because of the underlying message.  This is the real, unspoken argument made by the Yes of 8 campaign:

I think he means to say that if same-sex marriage remains a legal right, enshrined in state constitutional law, then homosexual relationships will come to be regarded as normal and good, and, consequently, anyone who objects to them will start to look like a bigot who should not be permitted to have his way. Thus, in order to preserve the right to discriminate against gay people and to keep schools from teaching children that gay couples are perfectly nice and so forth — all things Broyles wants — it’s important to outlaw gay marriage, because it will be a powerful force in changing perceptions about gay people and those who think gay people are doing something terribly wrong.

Bingo.  It all goes back to that.  Each measure that has anything to do with gay rights is never actually argued on the merits of the issues.  Instead, each is a referendum on whether homosexuality is moral or immoral.  As California Congressional candidate Tom McClintock, Prop 8 supporter said yesterday: “Lincoln asked, ‘If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? The answer is four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.  And calling a homosexual partnership a marriage doesn’t make it one.”  

That’s the real argument…homosexual relationships should never be considered as good as heteroseuxal ones.  Period.

As expected, Andrew Sullivan offers the best response.  He nails my own thoughts:

One reason I favor marriage equality is that the simple public fact of gay married couples will in itself teach something about the reality of gay people and our lives – without any school or parent having to say a thing. It gives us a way to talk about gay couples for the first time in human history without talking about sex acts. 

 To give one simple example. I have never sat down with my niece and nephew, who are nine and twelve, and told them I am gay. But they were both in our wedding, along with my husband’s family’s children. They see me and Aaron for who we are – all of us, defined by all we do and are. They know we are gay but we never had to say so. And there is nothing more moving than hearing my nephew talk of “uncle Aaron.” 


Exactly.  I will argue to the death that gay marriage should be legal on purely political grounds.  But, I’d be lying if I said that was enough.  It means much more than just getting the legal privileges of marriage.  

The real truth is that I DO want more than that.  I DO want to feel like I am on completely equal footing with every other couple.  I DO want children to grow up without being taught that I am perverse and dangerous.  I DO want my fellow Americans to believe that my relationship is just as important to our nation’s stability as theirs.  This does go beyond politics.  

That is the real Prop 8 argument.

8 thoughts on “The Real Prop 8 Issue

  1. “anyone who objects to them will start to look like a bigot” — for what it’s worth, I think they look like bigots without marriage equality for the simple fact that these people are, in fact, bigots. So, if that is the hold up, a fear that somehow we are all now blind to how wrong the discrimination is just because it is not de jur, then it’s time up to wake up. You cannot justify one aspect of institutional discrimination on the basis of how it affects your ability to discriminate overall.

  2. Amen. I agree. Though, you are a bleeding heart liberal who is extra-tolerant of differences. Which is why you are amazing.

    I think to the average American, the bigots will look even more bigoted once gay marriage is allowed. Because those bigots will be rallying against the evil gays while people will be able to see that gay marriage didn’t in fact destroy the world.

  3. word. I think I have tuned out to much of the insane chatter from this crowd in an attempt to make them go away. Unfortunately that is not the way it works. Can you imagine though, there will be a time (I hope in too distant of the future) where people will look back on this and be baffled that it wasn’t so readily obvious that everyone should have the same rights and privileges… Take heart– about 40 years ago my parents marriage was illegal, despised and ridiculed, not only by the governement but by their families. Change comes… but only if we fight. But it is a beautiful stuggle.

  4. Thanks Catherine. You sum it up very well.

    As the likely President-elect would say, we must “Know Hope.”

  5. Excellent post Paul! Thanks for framing it in yet another way for people. Just when I think I have heard all the arguments against Prop 8, someone shines another light for me.

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