Not All Truths are Self Evident

Should I write an opinion piece?  I’ve been struggling with this one for a while and figured that voicing my opinion on social issues is no different than giving my opinions on parenting, baking, or any other topic.  But this one makes people scream at each other, blaze their cars with bumper stickers, and post signs on their lawns:  Proposition 8.

For those outside California, Prop 8 was a recently-passed ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.  Only.

Here’s where I forestall all breathless and spittle-flecked responses by saying this:  I don’t have any right to say that people defining marriage as only between a man and woman are wrong in any way.  I may not agree, but hey, people believe that Elvis still walks among us.  People are nuts.

The real problem I have is when people assume their personal beliefs on marriage ought to be written into law.  Our country was not founded on a Bible, Koran, or self-help book, it was founded on the belief that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Our country revolves around personal freedoms.  Don’t like the government?  Here, we’ll let you parade around our capitol city in pointed hoods and will pay for police protection, even if you represent one of the most bigoted and hated organizations in the country.  It’s your unassailable right as an American to be wrong, to be stupid, and to have your voice heard.  Personal liberties man, that’s how we roll.

So.  On the one side you’re going to tell people to pry your gun from your cold dead hands, on the other you say your belief on gay marriage trumps their belief.  Look, either you’re for personal liberties or you’re against them.  Wanna pronounce gay marriage as a sin?  Fine.  Wanna grow muttonchops and live on a compound with like-minded people?  Fine.  Wanna say the Bible is the ultimate source for all governing rules?  Okay, but don’t expect everyone in the country to lock step with your belief system.

Proposition 8 has passed in California, an unprecedented reduction in civil liberties.  I’m not going to say where I stand on the issue because my opinion on how people should live ought never be given precedence over someone else’s opinion.  That’s what makes this country great, and every time I see a “Yes on Prop 8” sticker I cringe, because the person who proudly slapped it on their car obviously has no idea of the tragic and laughable hypocrisy of it all. 

At the heart of it, Proposition 8 is a truly anti-American initiative, one that ignores what makes us a federal republic and not a theocracy.  If you oppose gay marriage, fine, don’t get married to someone the same sex as you.  Oh, but were it that simple…

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9 comments
  1. Well written, and I too believe that this is the real issue at hand.

  2. ken said:

    marriage has at its purpose to start a family,anything else is just a joke,why are you laughing at a pillar of humanity,stop trying to color it as a right,there is nothing right about it, marriage is a pro-humanity,pro-american institution,gay marriage is a sick joke.the peolpe of california have spoken, stop trying to ram it through by dictatorship.

  3. Wendy said:

    Heheh, yeah Peter, there you go trying to "ram it" with your DICktatorship…methinks Ken has something on his mind. Hard to tell if he's serious though with the lack of capitalization, poor punctuation and spelling. So Ken, are you saying we should force all single people to have abortions so no children are born outside of the purposeful union of marriage? We should do fertility testing before marriage and not allow the infertile to sully the noble institution of marriage? If marriage is only for having children then that would be the logical, bigoted, insane conclusion of your statements and "thinking."I don't see Peter laughing, I see him expressing (quite mildly actually) dissent with the slim majority of California voters, and I see you responding in frothing incoherence. Hmmmm…but, unfortunately, you are probably a representative sample of the California "peolpe" (did you mean polyp? That would seem more apropos, given your apparent cranio-rectal condition.) which is perhaps why we have to have a 2/3 majority to raise taxes to fund education or infrastructure but only 51% of the vote to create a second class citizenry and deny consenting adults the (horrors!) legal right to file taxes jointly, share health insurance and retirement benefits, be an advocate for their loved one in the event of medical crisis, and yes, oh noes, adopt and/or raise their biological children together. Yes, children raised by loving parents who have the same rights as anyone else would be messed up indeed and would have all sorts of social problems.Oh wait. They aren't and they don't.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/08/magazine/08fob-wwln-t.htmlFancy that.

  4. Stephen said:

    I think both sides of this issue have valid points.

  5. Stephen said:

    Well, I had a long note that just got wiped out! Argh. Okay let me start over. It was probaby better written the first time because now I'm writing half-irritated b/c of browser glitches. I think both sides of this issue have valid points. I have many gay friends who I respect and admire; however, when it comes to SOME social issues, I tend to lean on the conservative end. Since ancient times, marriage has had a clear definition by Jews, Christians, and Muslims (which represent about 55% of the world's population). Marriage is defined by these groups as between a man and a woman. Marriage is a holy institution and should not be construed as secular. With separation of church and state, if two men or two women want to live together for tax reasons, health insurance, etc. that's none of my business, but it should be called a civil union. Marriage is a big part of my faith and should not be redefined because it's only fair to all people. I never want any element of my faith to be redefined or changed just for the sake of being politically correct. Liberal viewpoints (and this comes from someone who 99% of the time will vote Democrat) can go too far and destroy a society if the mindset of "if it FEELS good or right, then go with it". I'm all for individual freedoms, but freedom should only go so far.

  6. Babs said:

    Well now look what happened to that can o' worms you opened up. Actually, I happen to agree with you, but then again, we raised you to be an independent thinker. I wrote a whole long piece and just deleted it. We live in America for a reason and people came and settled in this country for a reason. I don't think those reasons have changed over the past 300 + yrs.

  7. Uh oh….
    Oh no you di'nt!!
    Unfortunately I think most Californians did not know what Prop 8 was about. Especially seeing as it was the mostly highly privately funded proposition and marketing campaign in history. All the bumper stickers were "Support Families, yes on prop 8". So, essentially, no on prop 8= family hater. If you didn't do your research, as it appears most californians didn't, and if you fall prey to good marketing, as most people do, you voted yes on 8. I sure didn't though.
    All I have to say after that is: stop drinking the haterade. or, another personal favorite from cousin krissy: "don't hate, appreciate"

  8. Samantha:got a good laugh from that one.Steve: It's a tricky thing, trying to separate the real definitions of marriage and civil union. If a church doesn't want certain people to marry, or wants to allow people to marry more than one person, that's their right. In the public sphere, there are lots of legal and practical considerations applied to people who are married that are not applied to people who have a civil union. Few people will argue about whether someone's spouse can come visit them in the hospital, or apply for tax benefits. TONS of people will argue about the definition of the word "marriage". The problem is that people think Proposition 8 is an attack on the holy definition of marriage. You may find ultra-orthodox marriage definitions in some cultures to be anathema to your own definition. Fair enough. But no one church holds sway over the United States government and as such, the government ought stick to the legal and practical implications of marriage, like letting your spouse pick up your mail at your P.O. box, and stay far away from the religious definitions of marriage.

  9. Stephen said:

    Hey Peter, I think we are on the same page, sort of. I'm okay with matching the same rights that "married" people enjoy with folks who are in "civil unions". To me that is fair in a society where the church is separate from the state as it should be. It may appear to be petty, but at least it protects the word "marriage". For me, changing the definition of marriage is almost the same as someone saying let's add an 11th Commandment. Liberties are important, but a line has to be drawn at some point. Sure, we have a "statue of liberty", but I would argue we also need a "statue of responsibility". I do get annoyed when I see bumper stickers touting Prop 8. I'm not for bashing other people in such a pompous way. I think we can find a solution that protects the meaning of marriage but yet gives gay couples the rights they would like as two people sharing a household and a life. I'll conclude by saying that most Christians who understand the Bible realize that we are all sinners and sin comes in various forms. I get uncomfortable when people bash gays as sinners and going to Hell. Only God is the judge of that and what about our own sins? "Do not judge lest you be judged". As a Christian, sin separates us from the all-perfect God and the only way to bridge that gap is through Christ who paid the ransom for all. Never was there greater love demonstrated than for someone to lay down their life to save someone else. In this whole Prop 8 soap opera, sometimes everyone involved forgets one of Jesus's greatest comandments — "love one another".

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