Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis (italics mine) in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.
Judge Vaughn R. Walker
August 4, 2010
And this, my fundamentalist Christian fellow citizens, is precisely why you are not the boss of me, or of gay couples, or of women, or of African-Americans or of anyone but your own selves (and your children, until they escape you). Irrationality. Beliefs based on, well, belief. Faith without reason. Useful for searching souls, perhaps, and it seems to fill the plates and build the megachurches, but it’s no way in hell to run a country.
This is the United States. The followers of any given religion have the perfect right to include, exclude and vilify anyone they choose. However, their right to express their group disapproval stops absolutely short of causing their chosen bugaboo any actual harm: as in breaking the laws enacted by the larger secular state in order to protect all its citizens. Those laws, we hope, evolve in specificity and efficacy as our understanding of what constitutes demonstrable societal or individual harm evolves as well.
In fact, ignore the terrifying specter of state-sanctioned gay married love for a moment. Take a look at racial segregation, which most self-described Christian congregations have now condemned, at least out loud. Had the original Southern Baptist Convention (and by “original,” I mean the SBC from 1845 until 1995) been able to retain its grasp on the laws of the Southern states, slavery would still be legal, “miscegenation” would still be a crime and hundreds of thousands of lawn jockeys would still be on display across the land of Dixie – because the Southern Baptist Church was created specifically to support these ideas in defiance of the views of other Baptist congregations.
Sure, it took over a hundred years for things to really start to change, for enough people to admit that a union between two people of differing overall skin pigmentation doesn’t lead to apocalyptic plagues or children with multiple heads (and also that allowing humans to own other humans is a damaging economic construct, not to mention leading to some rather hard feelings in general). The parallel is still clear: in a democratically-based society, the general idea is that we don’t let one faith group dictate the law of the land in the belief that time, growing understanding and the collective better judgment of a larger pool of citizens usually works out better for everyone. When small groups, or large groups, or individual states or crazed closet cases do attempt to make it legal to tar and feather someone, we can take those cases to courts which represent successively larger segments of the population and hope that somewhere along the line, better judgment and better education will prevail.
The fact is no religion owns marriage, the concept or the reality. Each has its own variations on the theme and every right to them. Within your congregation, marry (or don’t) anyone that you like (or hate (or sadly but firmly condemn)). But as Judge Walker had the patience and guts to point out in painstaking detail: pair-bonding predates religion; stable, wealth-creating, ably-parenting households are the true and demonstrable societal benefit of such bonds; and there’s not one iota of real evidence that a pair of the same gender doesn’t work just as well. Period.
So with all due respect, and as my new favorite judge expressed much more elegantly: that long-ago talking shrubbery or flaming cow, while inspirational and possibly entirely real, is no excuse for acting like an asshole today.