Reader reactions to this week’s Prop. 8 case

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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.