STATE OF AFFAIRS
By Evonne Ermey
When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage back in May, I was proud. I was proud to live in such a progressive state, one that valued and protected an individual’s right to life, liberty and most importantly their right to pursue happiness. It felt like a day of celebration, but now, only a couple of months later, it seems the honeymoon is over.
With Proposition 8 on the ballot this November 4, there are still a great many nay-sayers out there intent on keeping the status quo.
It’s no surprise that there should be this kind of backlash against the Supreme Court ruling; after all, it was a decision that overturned an amendment to the California constitution, an amendment voted on and approved by a majority of California voters.
Does this mean that the majority of Californians do not think that same sex couples should be allowed to marry? I don’t think so.
Who are these voters? When barely half of the American population can pull themselves off of their armchairs to vote in the presidential election, how many do you think actually mustered up the energy to vote in the 2000 primaries? Who are these politically motivated people?
According to the U.S. census bureau, older people are significantly more likely to vote than younger people, married people are more likely to vote than single, and white people are more likely to vote than any minority.
I don’t mean to sound trite, but I don’t think that the majority vote of old, white, married people accurately reflects the way that I, or even most Californians, feel about the gay marriage issue.
I think that when asked what, fundamentally, marriage is about the majority of people would say love. When I was a kid and I asked my parents what marriage was, they said, “It’s what happens when two people love each other.”
As far as what teachers might have told me about it, I don’t recall any crash course on marriage in either my kindergarten or grade school years.
In an academic atmosphere where teaching evolution vs. creationism makes waves on the moral rector scale, I can see how the possibility of elementary schools teaching same sex marriage would be controversial.
Personally, I don’t see what is so awful about teaching kids to overcome prejudice and be more accepting of people’s differences.
For those who fear that teaching children these basic values may be detrimental, I really don’t think they should worry. As far as I know, parents do have rights in our education system, and California schools cannot teach a subject like this if the parents disapprove of it.
There seems to be no end to the arguments people make in their quest to illegitimize gay marriage, but I can’t think of one solid enough to persuade me to vote yes on this proposition.
When religious people argue that it’s the union between a man and a woman. I wonder if they realize that the tradition of marriage predates their bible and it’s definitions.
When people cite history and say that marriage between a man and woman is how things have always been, and by that factor how they should always be, I wonder if they realize that gay marriage was legal in ancient Rome, and then, I reflect on how sad it is that an empire as brutal as Rome could, in any respect, be more tolerant than our own.
For those who stand behind the slippery slope, “Next thing you know people are going to marrying sheep,” I don’t understand how they can even remotely relate a loving gay marriage to bestiality, as if gay marriage were a gateway drug into something harder. I’m sorry it’s just ridiculous.
The fact is gay couples deserve the same rights that the rest of us have. As human beings, they deserve it. Marriage promotes monogamy; it gives financial security and medical benefits. If you want to say that domestic partnership offers the same, well maybe, but it’s a little like comparing a diamond to a cubic zirconium. Ultimately, people want the real thing.
On a less romantic note, the legalization of gay marriage is fiscally beneficial to the state. Think of all the money spent on weddings. These new marriages would help our poor, crippled California economy.
Even the legislative analysis in the general election guide acknowledges that the passage of Prop. 8 could result in a potential long-term loss “of several tens of millions of dollars” in new revenue.
I understand that in a country like ours, one that puts so much stock in tradition, change can be hard. There are bound to be growing pains, but I feel that there are times when change is necessary to ensure fair and equal treatment for all, and I think that this is one of those times.
This is not a time for devolution. Prop. 8 is a huge slight to a large population of California residents who want nothing more than the right to celebrate and solidify their relationships, the same way that every other person in the country does.
(Evonne Ermey is City Times’ news editor)