California Attorney General Jerry Brown created a good stir this week when he changed the wording of Proposition 8. Previously it “had been described as a measure to limit marriage between a man and a woman.” Now, it states “the initiative as a constitutional change to eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry.”
Prop. 8 backers are now going to sue over the change. Am I surprised? No. Am I annoyed? Deeply. I really want to see Prop. 8 fail. I applaud Brown for making the issue explicitly about civil rights- it’s not about protecting straight marriages, it’s about denying people the right to marry. Fundamentally that is wrong, and I would hate to see the state constitution explicitly diminish any groups civil rights. It also upsets me because it would retain a largely religious definition of marriage that isn’t entirely based on reason. Not exactly separation of church and state. So the will of the majority (and their beliefs) get to impinge on a minority. Fantastic. On the flip side, I know people who will claim their beliefs against gay marriage have nothing to do with religion, rather they’re “not natural” and ignore “procreation”. Hmm, so does that mean only people willing to have kids can be married? And what about gay couples who adopt or have a child? Really a marriage is just a contract between two people and society. This idea of a contract was central to women’s liberation in Victorian Britain, and it’s something that I think people can’t ignore. Why do gays want to be married? They want all the security provided through the marriage contract. How is that going to harm heterosexual marriage?
If there was a true state contract, removed from any cultural or religious values, allowing couples to enter a strictly civil union, then I would be for it. California has the Domestic Partnership law, which grants same sex couples and straight couples where one member is over the age of 62 a contract that allows them to most of the rights of marriage. What about straight couples where both members are under the age of 62? Oh, we can get married. What if we’re opposed to marriage because it’s definitions are bigoted and tied to religious beliefs? Then you’re screwed.
I’ve been entertaining the idea of a civil union for years now, and I can’t do it. Of course I’m too stubborn to cave in to the terrible definition of marriage we have today- I’d rather not compromise my values. (This might not be fair to my other half.) Will the world end because of this? No. Is it silly? Yes. I’m starting to feel that I might have to fight for my right to domestic partnership if Prop. 8 passes, because then I surely wouldn’t want to be married in the state of California.