Thursday, November 6, 2008

Say it isn't so

There’s been a sad blow to Civil Liberties here in California. Proposition 8 which redefines legal marriage in California as being between a man and a woman narrowly passed. The margin is so slim that it won’t be officially ruled upon until Dec. There’s still hope because it’s out of the hands of the religious right who’ve been driving this campaign and imposing their views onto others.

The No on 8 Campaign made the issue about Civil Rights. No question, we are denying same-sex couples fundamental rights. But what about the separation of Church and State? Where is it? Where does this definition come from that marriage is between a man and a woman? Who’s defining it? If the answer is, The Bible, we have a problem because we are allowing the religious doctrine of one group to define the rights of another. To my mind, it’s not just morally wrong, it goes against the founding principals of our country.

In California, marriage is a civil union. That’s why a judge can officiate. Seems simple but proponents of Prop 8 seem to forget that. It wasn’t that long ago that when a woman married a man, she was his legal property. She didn’t have rights of her own. She couldn’t own her own property. When her husband died, she was in dire straights. We've come a long way in redefining the rights of women in marriage. She can now legally inherit the property of her husband, no question. Not true for the future of same-sex couples if Prop 8 does pass. But marriage isn't about just property rights. The modern view is that we marry for love. In Jane Austen times, marrying for love seemed hypocrisy. Now we call women who marry for money gold-diggers. In today’s mind, marrying for love seems the rightful thing to do. But according to Prop 8 proponents, marriage, and love, can only be between a man and a woman. Interesting, since the ancient Greeks, founders of Democracy, put love between males above all else. (I am excluding the point that women weren’t treated that well in ancient Greek times, but they didn’t fair well under early Christianity either… so… Democracy, and equal rule for all, does takes awhile…. )

If people want religion to play a part in their marriage, fine. Get married in a church, synagogue whatever. That's their business. But marriage is a legal contract overall, entitling participants to certain rights and it's unjust to entitled those rights to only a "chosen" few. And if marriage is truly about an expression of love, no one has the right to determine what's in the hearts of people willing to devote their life to one person of their chosing. Love is love and no one religious doctrine has the right to define what that is for anyone, let alone a whole state.

You know what I love? Our fundamental rights - and the power of the people to keep someone's church out of it!

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