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?
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. . .