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Reader reactions to this week’s Prop. 8 case

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009 at 11:01 am in same-sex marriage.

As expected, I’ve received a lot of phone messages and e-mails about the story I had in Sunday’s editions about this week’s California Supreme Court arguments over Proposition 8. Sorry for the delayed response; I was out of the office on unpaid furlough yesterday, so chalk my silence up to the newspaper industry’s slow death-spiral. And while I don’t have time today to call or write back to each individual commenter, I thought I should address it collectively here.

First, a reiteration of something I noted in the article. I called and/or e-mailed more than a dozen East Bay donors to, or former public supporters of, Proposition 8; none would consent to be interviewed for this story. I also gave the Yes on 8 campaign more than a week to find me such a person in Alameda or Contra Costa counties; they also couldn’t find anyone to go on the record with me. I summarized the Yes on 8 side’s arguments based on the briefs so as not to leave that side unrepresented.

To those of you who saw fit to send me e-mails or leave me voice messages on your personal views, or the Bible’s views, about the morality of homosexuality: I don’t care. That is, you’re entitled to your opinion, but that’s not what this debate is about. The Bible is not the controlling legal foundation of this state; the California Constitution is, and this case is about how and when we make changes to that document.

One woman said she voted for Proposition 8 not because she has anything against gay people or same-sex marriage, but because she feared what allowing same-sex marriage would mean for public schools and churches. I’m not sure I understand that argument – you don’t have a problem with it, but you believe children must be shielded from it? As I blogged last year, public schools teach the law of the land; if the law of the land says gay people have the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples, that’s what schools will teach (assuming they teach anything at all about any kind of marriage). As for churches, there’s no indication they’d be compelled to solemnize same-sex marriages any more than a Catholic church is currently required to hold a wedding Mass for a Jewish couple. Churches always have had choice in the rites they perform; that wasn’t going to change.

If you wrote or voice-mailed me with concerns about when the majority does and doesn’t rule, or about the judiciary’s role in interpreting constitutional rights – congratulations, you get what this week’s case is all about.

And to all of you, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my work.

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  • Elwood

    Persons identified as campaign contributors to Yes on 8 have been intimidated, harassed and threatened up to and including death threats.

    Boycotts have been launched against their businesses.

    Do you blame them for not wanting more of the same?

    The No on 8 forces should be very proud of themselves. Of course when your cause is right, anything is allowed, right?

  • Cariad

    Yes on 8 supporters are being harassed? Boo hoo. Gay people have been strung up on fences and left for dead.

    Get the Bible out of my Constitution.

  • Elwood

    “Gay people have been strung up on fences and left for dead.”

    And how many people would that be? I believe it’s the same number who were left to drown at Chappaquiddick bridge.

    The guys who wrote the constitution were great readers of and believers in the Bible.

    Your hysterical rhetoric is not convincing.

  • rosa

    One interesting little track I went down in looking more closely at the constitutional questions being raised led me to the arguments that were in the Voter Information pamphlet for the 1911 election when the state constitutional amendment #22 was being voted on. That is the amendment that established the initiative and referendum process for the State of California. The source documents are available at http://www.learncalifornia.org/doc.asp?id=1644, which is an education site hosted by the State Archives.

    One of the arguments in favor of voting No on the 1911 amendment was that it would give California a democratic form of government in direct violation of the US Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, which guarantees “to every state in this union a republican form of government.”

    Not that it has anything to do with the current case; it’s just interesting to take a step back in time. And some do argue that the initiative process requiring only a simple majority vote of the people wasn’t envisioned to include defining or restricting the rights of any class of people, including “suspect classes”–to use a legal term that seems unnecessarily loaded with a pejorative meaning.