News and thoughts on California’s Proposition 8
MSNBC reports that the contest to pass or defeat California’s Proposition 8 is the second most expensive political battle in the country this year, trailing only the bajillions of dollars being spent by McCain and Obama—but mostly Obama—in their battle for the White House. Proposition 8, which I previously blogged about here, would amend the California Constitution to remove the right of same-sex couples to marry. This blog opposes the measure and hopes that Californians will defeat it at the ballot box on Tuesday.
The latest polls indicate that 49% of respondents intend to vote no (and support protecting the rights of same-sex couples) and 44% intend to vote yes (and remove the marriage rights of same-sex couples); the remainder are undecided. Apparently, most people who are undecided in the final days of such campaigns on controversial social issues tend to vote no. So, the smarter money would be on the measure not passing, though it is sure to be close. Incidentally, Intrade speculators are indeed putting their money on it not passing; current market consensus is that it has about a 25% chance of success.
I am disappointed and distraught that Proposition 8’s main supporters are, with no exceptions that I know of, all part of my own religious tradition, Christianity. Formerly, Christians like William Wilburforce—who successfully lobbied against the slave trade—and Martin Luther King, Jr.—who championed civil rights—were all about expanding human freedom; it’s unfortunate that that’s not the case in the present instance. It is furthermore unfortunate that Prop 8 supporters and others similarly minded people—when they address the issue at all—make such flimsy arguments about why the parts of the Mosaic Code that they want to impose on other people must still be followed but the parts that they don’t want to be held to don’t apply any more. I think they also damage their standing with their claims about the alleged harms of permitting same-sex marriage, which, at best, are all out of proportion to the evidence and, more commonly, are in direct contradiction to it.
Andrew Sullivan has interesting blog posts here and here on the enourmous amount of money that Later Day Saints (Mormons) are donating to the pro-8 cause. Though they’re only about 1.5-1.8% of the state’s population, apparently about 30-40% of all pro-8 money is coming from Mormons (not all of them in-state). The second Sullivan piece indicates that the total might be as high as 77%, but that figure seems insufficiently sourced and is pretty unbelievable to me. He writes that LDS efforts are “about consolidating the Mormon church into the wider Christianist movement. If the Mormons can prove their anti-gay mettle, they will be less subject to suspicion from evanglicals.” He quotes another gentleman who says that “For whatever reason, [Mormons are] trying to get some respect from other religions. … They’ve always been looked down upon by the Christians, the Catholics, and evangelicals” but would gain credibility if the marriage succeeds. An interesting analysis.
The LDS Church is by no means monolithic, however (few religions are). Mormons for Marriage have an excellent website explaining why they respectfully oppose Proposition 8 and are actively working to promote marriage rights. (It strikes me as Orwellian how so many groups that are against marriage rights for certain people get themselves considered the “pro marriage” side.) Check out their site; it’s very well organized and contains lots of information.
I feel that it’s very likely that by 2030 same-sex marriage will be legally available to most, if not all, Americans. This current opposition is another one of those things some Christians think is a really good idea (and others think is really bad) that the church is going to have to come to terms with and eventually apologize for. Sort of like slavery, the inquisition, and the crusades. Though I will say that taking away a person’s right to marry is nowhere near as bad as taking away his or her life or freedom. Society is making progress; we’ve decided that it’s not okay to kill or enslave people and now are discussing if it’s okay to let them marry.
Anyway, here are some No On Prop 8 ads that imitate Apple’s “I’m a PC/I’m a Mac” ads. Even if you disagree with the points raised, you may find them amusing. I especially like the second one which features the Constitution of California, who’s a lot more attractive than I thought she’d be, given that she’s one of the longest state constitutions in the country, albeit nowhere near as long as the monstrosity that Alabama uses.
California polls close at 8:00 pm local time, 11:00 pm eastern time. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this initiative.