Saturday, September 20, 2008

Getting All Political

Believe it or not, I try not to get too controversial on this site, lest I lose my 10 readers because they are offended.

But I began to think this week that if I don't voice my opinion on this one, I am not challenging the views I think should be challenged. And not giving those people an opportunity to give me some rational explanations for their position.

And so today I'm posting about a ballot proposition that's drawn its battle lines as religion versus the secular. And I think it really boils down to a battle over the "ownership" of a single word.
I'm talking about Proposition 8.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Proposition, Prop. 8 is the California Proposition that will amend our state constitution to define marriage as existing only between a man and a woman. It's a response to a California Supreme Court decision from earlier this year that held such a definition unconstitutional. Of course, if the constitution gets amended, the definition will not longer be unconstitutional (based on the California constitution).

A couple weeks ago, a pro-Prop. 8 pollster came to the door. Here was our exchange:

Pollster Dude: Hi, I'm here about an proposition that's going to be on our ballot in November. Proposition 8 (handing me a flyer-thing).

Me: I'm familiar with it. It defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Pollster Dude: That's right. We believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Me: I'm in favor of marriage between a man and a woman.

Jason (who came up behind me to the door): That's right, we do.

Pollster Dude: So, how do you plan to vote in the election?

Me: No.

Pollster Dude (looking a little confused): Uh. Ok. Thanks.

And here's the thing-- just because I'm opposed to Proposition 8 doesn't mean I'm opposed to marriage between a man and a woman. I mean, I'm in a marriage with a man. And I'm a woman. So clearly, I like this definition. But why does it have to be so exclusionary? Just because I've opted to marry a man, why does that mean I should limit others to the same definition of family?

As a general rule, I subscribe to the notion that churches should do what they want to do (obviously within limits)-- I mean, I don't want government in my church. And I definitely don't want church in my government. I know that our religious beliefs inform our views of the world. But I'm of the opinion that non-religious rationales should inform our political decisions.

Then I got some mail from the Catholic Church last week. And it really made me mad. The literature explained why our bishops supported Proposition 8 (and why we should too). It boiled down to two arguments:

1. If we allow same sex marriage, then marriage will just be a contract between two people
2. Marriage is for the purpose of procreation, and if we allow same-sex marriage, we devalue its true purpose

Ok. Well, first of all-- marriage is a contract between two people. Call it a civil union. Call it marriage. As far as the state is concerned, marriage is just a contract between two people. And when it's breached, it's handled, if the parties so desire, through divorce.

And the second explanation-- well, I imagine it's obvious why this would be offensive. I didn't marry Jason for the sole purpose of making babies with him. And it's a good thing - because we haven't made any babies together. What we have made is a life together-- nine years of friendship, loyalty and support-- and we've built a family together. Not by procreating, though.

I don't believe for a minute that the state or the church looks at my family and thinks we are somehow a lesser family because we've built it through adoption. So I don't get it. If the church acknowledges and supports couples who never have children and couples who biologically cannot have children and couples who choose not to birth children, how can the position be that marriage is for that purpose (and ostensibly that purpose alone)? And if it's "just as good" to build family through alternative means, then why limit the definition of marriage based on the procreation argument?

I know there are passages in the Bible that indicate same sex marriage is not acceptable. I get it. But then let's just call a spade a spade. Let's not say that same sex marriage is wrong because gay people can't procreate together. If the church opposes same sex marriage, say it's because "the Bible says so."

And if that's the only reason we have for opposing same-sex marriage, then I come back to the beginning. I don't want my government basing it's laws on a rationale like "because the Bible says so." Because what if we interpret its verses differently? Or rely on different religious texts?

I could go into all the reasons that I think it should be okay for gay people to be married. But I don't think I need to. Because allowing gay people to marry doesn't change my beliefs. Doesn't change my relationship with God. Doesn't even change my church's rules.

I have no idea how the proposition will do. But I will be voting NO. The marriage of two men or two women just doesn't devalue my marriage to a man. And I haven't heard any (non-religious) reason justifying the rule. . .

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Teeth and Nails

Work, school, and family time on the weekends have been keeping us all busy. Marcie has transitioned quite nicely to attending school all by herself. It's taken Casey a while, but it appears that he's finally gotten into his groove and made some friends. For Casey, it's all about friends. As long has he has someone whom he likes and who likes him, all is well in his world. It wasn't long before he started talking about kids in his class, but it wasn't until last week that he finally announced he'd made a friend in after-school care (ESS). So that was a relief for me, as I'd been really fretting about it. It's been four weeks since he went back to school, and I was only going to give it another two before scheming with his teachers for introductions to other potential after-school playmates. But Casey has managed to navigate the complicated social network of kindergarten just fine on his own, thank you. And he seems to have more male friends than he used to. He has one female friend he mentions all the time (Katelyn), but the rest of the names I hear are male: Ty, Robbie, Joey.

One thing this different-schools experience has done is really highlight Casey and Marcie's unique personalities. As is true of most siblings, Marcie and Casey have very different personalities-- and we have heard more times than I can count this year from the preschool that Marcie is so different than Casey. Uh huh. We know.

How are they different? Well, one of Casey's teachers described him last week as personable, easy-going, friendly, social and eager-to-please. Marcie, on the other hand, has been described to us as sassy, opinionated, independent and "selective" about her friends (a nice way of saying she is picky and not that friendly). I don't think any of these qualities (of either child) are good or bad. I mean, they are good and bad. All things in moderation. But I don't mind a preschooler who is already confident and not afraid to show it. And I am in love with my kindergartner who reads facial expressions and is compassionate. So no complaints from me.

And boy, are they growing up fast. Just yesterday Casey informed me that he has his first loose tooth. ALREADY?!? (that's what I screamed inside my head) I guess it's not too soon. He will be 6 in January. But I suppose I just thought he'd be in second grade before he lost his first tooth. I have no idea where I pulled that age from. We had a conversation about the tooth fairy last night and told him when his tooth came out to save it so we could put it under the pillow and he'd get a surprise. We didn't specify the surprise because who knows what plan the tooth fairy has hatched for our home. But Jason's dad made no bones about it-- "I'll bet the tooth fairy will leave you LOTS and LOTS of money," he confidently informed Casey.

Jason was quick to respond, "Hmm. I haven't heard that, Dad. But Casey, if you want to make sure you get all the money Grandpa's talking about, maybe you should wait and take your tooth over there one night. You know, just to be sure."

And then today. Casey was invited to a birthday party. And I'm sure it would have been fine to bring Marcie, but she wasn't technically invited, and Jason and I are both home. And it's a pool party, which would have meant getting in the pool with Marcie (and as a side-note, why do parents of 5 year olds assume that all 5 year olds can swim without immediate, close-proximity supervision? At what age is that a safe assumption? Because Casey sure can't swim for any length of time on his own-- only in spurts. And only when we're in the water with him).

Anyway, I told Marcie that because she wasn't invited, she couldn't go. And she nearly melted down. But then I told her we'd have a girls' afternoon and I'd take her to get her nails done. When she awoke, a little after 5:30 a.m. this morning, she immediately demanded I take her. I ignored her request of course. But eventually I did take her. And she was fantastic. I can't believe I forgot the camera! She picked a "sparkly pink" color and we had them paint a flower on each thumb. It's so cute. After we got her nails done, we went to lunch. Marcie chose Chinese food, and as we sat down at our table, she asked me if we were going to save seats for Daddy and Casey. Then she proceeded to tell me we should make sure we get some ice tea for Daddy because that's what he likes to drink. I don't know why, but I am constantly amazed by how observant Marcie is. And how well she vocalized it. And she is such a girly girl. In fact, as I type this post, she is laid out on the floor next to me on her belly, drawing pictures of "flowers" and "flies." (I use quotation marks because you wouldn't recognize her rather abstract drawings as those items without her explanation-- but what do you expect from a two-almost-three-year-old?) Her hair is in braids, which stick straight out like Pipi Longstocking. Oh. And she's wearing some of my black heels. (Again, where is the camera?)