A Personal View of the Battle Over Proposition 8

As many here at America’s Right may know, Proposition 8 was passed in 2008 in California with a majority of 52 percent. The proposition defined marriage as an institution that existed between one man and one woman. Naturally, this proposition was challenged in federal court, and officially overturned by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker on August 4, 2010 based on his view that banning gay marriage violated federal equal protection and due process laws.

For the first time a federal court has ruled on the issue, ruled in favor of gay marriage, and has placed the issue on the legal train for the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D. C. The defenders of Proposition 8 are attempting to appeal to a federal appeals court, but it is unclear if they will be able due to questions involving standing. We have the classic battle over whether America is a democracy or a republic before us. Forty-five states have one-man one-woman marriage statutes, but in the end the survival of these statutes will come down to the opinions of judges. Both liberals and conservatives claim to love living in a democracy, but when a vote does not go their way they are compelled to rush to a courtroom in the name of “checks and balances” and try to find a judge who will give them what they want.

From a political point of view, however, the reaction to this ruling has been tame in the conservative world. A typical article about the matter, for example is the one in the Christian Science Monitor titled “Why GOP Reaction is Muted as Judge Affirms Gay Marriage Rights.” It has become apparent that many conservatives see this issue as a loser, and one that is better ignored than challenged or affirmed. Their opinion is based on the premise that they can just let the court follow its process, and whatever happens live with it and move on. The court process is, after all, out of their hands.

The declining interest in gay rights as a political issue has been developed over the last forty years of political struggle involving the lives of millions of Americans. My first contact with the gay community was in the 1970’s when I went to college. One of the things I noticed was how well the gay community organized politically, having learned its lessons from the civil rights movement of the 1960’s and used them extremely well. Any political community that could survive the social catastrophe of AIDS is a political community of power and intelligence.

The gay community understood a fundamental fact about the civil rights movements in America that is central to its success: In order for America to embrace a civil rights movement, that movement must convince America that it is trying to fulfill the constitutional ideals of the founding fathers rather than overcome them. President Abraham Lincoln is admired so much because it is believed he fulfilled the promise of equality enshrined in the American Revolution when he governed America to victory in the American Civil War which led to the abolition of slavery.   If instead Lincoln had preached that he needed to tear up the American Constitution in order to free the slaves he may not have won the hearts of the American public. In the 1960’s civil rights leader Martin Luther King preached the same philosophy. He preached that the American government should fulfill its mandate of equality and freedom by ensuring it to the racial minorities of America, which no one could deny had been refused by a stubborn white America.

However, I do not wish to portray the gay rights community as a group that did not have its own internal disputes. In 1996 I had lunch with a legal associate I worked with on a daily basis.. (I will call her Sue for the sake of this article.) Sue was an up front lesbian who was a leader in the gay rights movement in the city in which we both lived. She told me over enchiladas (and yes, even though we had no chance of dating I was enough of a gentlemen to pick up the check) that the gay community was divided at that time over what outcome it desired in its political campaign.

“One side simply wants to be left alone, and if the heterosexual community will let us live in peace that is enough,” she told me. “The other side wants to mainstream. They want gay people to live exactly the same as the heterosexual community. Same jobs. Same rights. Same neighborhoods. The whole enchilada.”

She went on to tell me she felt that mainstreaming would not work. She felt it was asking too much and that, in the end, it would fail. I have not seen her for over ten years and often wonder if she still feels that way. In retrospect, I believe mainstreaming had to happen. As Martin Luther King used to preach, a human being cannot live in exile in his own land. Separation has all the overtones of being pushed into a ghetto, and that would never be tolerated by anyone.

Conservatives have reached a crisis over this issue in 2010. Martin Luther King also stated that the way a human being tells if a law is just is whether that law follows the law of God. The conservative movement now finds itself in the middle of a religious dispute over whether homosexuality and gay marriage is scriptural. There are gay rights advocates all over America and those in the pulpit that put forth the idea that homosexuality does not violate the love of God. I attended a church service in 2009 in which the minister was a lesbian, and at one point she prayed that “God would allow everyone to become exactly what they are.”

There are conservative Christians I grew up with that would have been hysterical at such a notion. Orthodox Christianity preaches that humanity has to overcome its nature, not enhance it. (I wondered if her prayer was supposed to apply to alcoholics.) What does this mean for the American political future? Considering that the Republican Party does not seem to want to be involved in a theological dispute, and considering that much of the party is [thankfully] succumbing to many libertarian ideals, the GOP has become far more interested in secular matters and, more importantly, the Republican Party has many affluent members that are homosexual. Homosexuals have embraced the Republican Party because the spending anti-business policies of the Democrats are distasteful to them.  The libertarian trend doesn’t hurt, either.

It will be interesting to see how the Republicans, who currently represent the largest number of conservatives in America, will react to this fight as it continues. There are many who believe the reaction will be far calmer than the press lets on. Many believe the Republicans have no interest in a struggle that involves the question of sin. Most people I know who claim to be conservative do not believe they can win the battle against gay marriage by insisting it is bad for society since both sides of the issue have their sociology experts who will testify on their behalf.

In conclusion, consider a quote from the final chapter of the book “Bound for Canaan, the Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America” by Fergus M. Bordewich. The Underground Railroad, which tried to smuggle and succeeded in smuggling slaves to freedom in America until 1860 and the beginning of the American Civil War, is considered by many the core movement of religious civil disobedience that eventually was the basis for the civil rights movement in the 1960‘s. The conclusion of the book has a sentence that is worth thinking about in relation to gay rights:

The story of the Underground Railroad thus shed light on, if it fails to answer, uneasy questions about what happens when revealed religion collides with a secular society that shares neither its politics nor its reading of the Scriptures.

May God go with us all in the journey ahead.

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Comments

  1. John Feeny says:

    Interesting piece, Ron.. Personally, I generally place myself amongst the group of conservatives that, in the end, will shrug its shoulders and move on. My wife and I each have a homosexual family member, and, to be honest, it’s not something that is ever discussed. They’re both wonderful, incredibly giving people, and in the end blood is thicker than the water of a political debate. One has been married in France, where he and his partner reside.

    The one problem that I have with this – if it can even be called a “problem” – is the appellation “marriage” upon which the members of the gay community insist. I’m unsure of the exact number of states that recognize civil unions, but I believe it’s quite a few. Correct me if I’m wrong in my understanding of this, so that going forward I’m clear – as a result of being a partner in a civil union, both partners are accorded all of the same legal rights as any heterosexual married couple. Assuming I’m correct, the only thing that is left – the only thing – is the term “marriage” being applied to their union. While I’d never begrudge any human being the right to be happy, this strikes me as being directly related to the core of the entire political hotbed that we’re experiencing in this country – this isn’t necessarily about legislative initiatives, new laws, and throwing out the constitution – this is about re-interpreting the Constitution so that the CULTURE changes. Those who were “fighting authority” in the late-60′s (I realize that the social discussions relative to the Civil Rights movement and the counter-cultural late-60′s are markedly different animals) are, strangely enough, all for heavy-handed authority now, in the form of overpowering government. Why is that? From where I stand, the “authority” against which they’ve always struggled is an abstract one – the unspoken “standards” by which the majority of Americans live what are deemed to be “acceptable” lives.

    Again, the “problem” that I have with this is that I (and I really don’t feel as I’m alone on this) somewhat resent the sense that I’m being “forced” to accept not only the different lifestyles of some of our fellow citizens but that I’m also going to have many of them in my face, so to speak, beating me over the head with a self-affirming club. I also don’t think that it’s really too much of a stretch to at least to look uneasily at a not-too-distant future when, after having gay marriage legally sanctioned in America, many of them will want to be married in places of worship in front of a Christian Deity.

    Then, I’m afraid, things are really going to explode.

    What ever happened to live and let live?

  2. Dee says:

    I’m with John Feeny on this one. I do wonder though why, if the gay community wants to be recognized as regular people, do we have to have “Gay Pride Parades” and celebrations everywhere? Maybe that’s a dumb question but I have never seen a “Regular straight pride parade”.

    There was a very close relative of mine who joined a Fundamentalist church. He would visit often and tell me what was wrong with my church and why I should consider joining his. I finally told him that I loved having him visit but that my religion and church worked for me and that his appearred to work for him and I had no intentions of changing so don’t bring up the subject again. He never did. We both worshipped as we pleased.

    I also agree with John that it is the word “marriage” that seems to be the clincher.

  3. matt says:

    I like the comments John Feeny made and would like to add a couple thoughts. By “going mainstream” as you describe there is being demanded more than the tolerance of casual acceptance. What is sought is an affirmation and celebration. As you said, the GLBT will demand their marriages take place in front of a Christian Deity. When any specific religious group denies them this, they will be taken to court and the liberal courts will begin to force this upon churches. We know the government is to be restrained from matters of faith, but the over-reach will be excused because a “civil right” is being denied. And from the there government will direct what may or may not be said in religious gatherings. Evidence of this can be seen in the careful wordings of this administration. Freedom of Religion is now stated as Freedom of Worship. A simple word change and you can worship however you want, but you can’t necessarily believe as you choose.

    I am a vocation minister with a lot of years invested in the study and interpretation of Scriptures. The are principles that we struggle to consistently observe when interpreting scripture. Those who claim to be followers of Christ who affirm homosexuality do not observe the same principles, obviously. But more than that, most of what Jesus said they do not hold to be true. If most of what Jesus said is not true, then what or who are they following? They follow voice of the flesh (feelings) rather than the voice and Word of God.

    Finally, this is all a terrible slippery slope which will be ruinous at its conclusion. Homosexuality was removed from the DSM as a behavioral problem because of the pressure from protestors and activists instead of any type of academic or scientific study. It started out as a homosexual struggle, then bi-sexuals and transvestites were added. Mark my words, the next to be added will be pedophilia. Therapists already acknowledge there is little to no hope of rehabilitation for them. They can’t help themselves because that is how they were made. And then it is another small step to beastiality, after all, we are just another animal that follows our instinctual feelings rather than the Word of God spoken to us. How fallen and corruptable we are!

  4. Anonymous says:

    “If instead Lincoln had preached that he needed to tear up the American Constitution in order to free the slaves he may not have won the hearts of the American public.”

    There are those who would argue that Lincoln did.

    For example

    http://www.apatheticvoter.com/ViolationsConstitution.htm

    “No state upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union.” – Lincoln

    Correct me if I am wrong, some tax law aficionado can correct this, but, I believe there is one difference domestic partnerships don’t subscribe… combined income for tax purposes. (I wouldn’t want the marriage tax addition)

  5. John Feeny says:

    I agree with Matt, as he summed up my concerns exactly. Mark my words – and remember, I am not, in principle, against this – this will ultimately be about bringing down the Church, which is, in fact, the basis for the vast majority of the cultural upheaval. Those on the far left object to the “abstract” authority of Western and Judeo-Christian Civilization.

    Ironically, they may end up with Eastern civilization, the guiding principles of which will eradicate homosexuals once and for all.

  6. nana3 says:

    Ron….this is an interesting peace and thought-provoking because the concept of gay marriage is something that divides us and tests the very core of our beliefs and convictions. Depending on whether or not a person is a Christian or has no religious beliefs, the idea of homosexuality may be viewed entirely opposite yet equally passionate. I don’t pretend to be a saint or an expert on The Holy BIBLE but I grew up with a godly Mother who made sure her five children were in church for most all activities there. Consequently, I have always given thought to what Jesus would do in certain situations involving my behavior or how I treat other people. I have failed many times and done things I should not have done but I knew what was right and wrong because my conscience bothered me. As I consider issues like homosexuality and abortion or lying, cheating, theft etc….I know that God hates the sin, not the sinner. My sin is just as bad as anyone else’s sin, in God’s eyes. We can’t make God what we want him to be so we have to believe what he says in the Bible regarding sin. He will judge all sin. I do think we have to speak out against it but ultimately we are called all kinds of names because we are not ‘accepting’ of everyone as Jesus was. Never mind that we speak out against abortion and other sins as well, we are still labeled ‘homophobs’ etc.
    The liberal establishment is content to let voters glory in their perversions and warped lifestyle choices in order to get votes. They know that the prevailing wind in our society today is anti-Christian, anti-conservative and supportive of all immoral behavior. Since the conscience of our society has become anesthetized to the point that there is NO right or WRONG, we should not be shocked when every perversion imaginable is being forced down the throats of our children and their parents. I believe that each of us will be judged as individuals but for people who do not believe that, they feel they should have no restraints on anything they choose to do. Why do we need laws anyway? I believe that I have a responsibility to speak against the wrongs in society or I too may be judged for being complicit in the destruction of this civilization.

  7. Randy Wills says:

    What a great discussion (and all of you knew that I would wade in on this, didn’t you?). Thanks for bringing it to us, Ronald.

    I think that Matt’s comments hit it on the head. I have worked with, and had many work for me, who were openly homosexual (and in one case, both partners worked for me) and I loved those people the same as the others under my management, so my disapproval of homosexual relationships is not a personal dislike or adversion to the individuals and I would do nothing within the political system to interfere with any person’s pursuit of happiness. My problem is with the confusion of Scriptual text and the usurption of terms in order to obfuscate the reality of homosexuality in the eyes of our Creator.

    First, the Scripture is NOT ambiguous regarding homosexuality. It is anathma to the God of the Scriptures and violates both the practice (procreation by the coming together of the opposite sexes and the ideal of parenting by both a male and female figure) and the principle (marriage between a male and a female is the symbolic representation of Christ and His church with the church representing the vehicle and providing the environment for the birth and “parenting”of new believers) of heterosexual marriage. It is impossible to make this connection substituting two males or two females in a sexual relationship, regardless of how loving and commited it may be. This analogy is totally lost if anything other than a heterosexual arrangement is considered to be “marriage” within the context of “holy matrimony”.

    Secondly, from a secular societal perspective, a simple test of the desirablility of the homosexual lifestyle would be to ask “what would the result be if everyone – or even a significantly large number of persons – chose that lifestyle?” Obviously, the answer is that it would be a “natural” disaster for all of humanity in terms of continuation (in a number of developed countries live births have dropped below the replacement level) of the species. Furthermore, the societal effect of large-scale homosexual practice is a total unknown, so why would anyone endorse or “normalize” a practice that very likely would, at some point in time, require societal intervention or governmental control just to survive? Very large questions that no one seems willing to acknowledge, say nothing of dicuss. Are we just unreasoning animals or are we intellectually-developed human beings?

    So, please, my homosexual friends, let the term “marriage” be reserved for the coming together of a male and a female as defined and demonstrated by “Nature and Nature’s God”. I don’t begrudge you your freedom to choose for yourself how you will live, but, in God’s name, why do you need to also pervert His word and His plan for humanity? Is it so necessary for you to take a term that so fully represents a God-odained societal arrangement and is so sacred to persons such as myself and obliterate its meaning by your perversion of it?

    So, for God’s sake, and mine, have the decency to not to make the price of your choice the destruction of the term “marriage” which defines the only proven path to a stable and enduring society, regardless of your religious beliefs.

    Randy

  8. graypanther says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong in my understanding of this, so that going forward I’m clear – as a result of being a partner in a civil union, both partners are accorded all of the same legal rights as any heterosexual married couple.

    Hardly. in many states and communities, participants in a civil union are not granted the same rights as spouses with respect to inheritance, taxation, and “privileges” such as hospital and hospice visitation. If the married and the “civilly united” were identically treated under law, I believe there would be much less agitation in this regard, but they are not.

  9. John Feeny says:

    Graypanther -
    That’s why I asked. You’ve given me something on which I need to read up. Thanks much.

  10. graypanther says:

    “…our society today…supportive of all immoral behavior…the conscience of our society has become anesthetized to the point that there is NO right or WRONG…”

    I find that statement well countered by the terrific outrage when executive “salaries” of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, et al. became public knowledge.

  11. Dee says:

    Graypanther, in the hospital where I worked, as long as the patient is coherent and alert and of sound mind (that can be disputed over and over), he or she was allowed to tell the staff who he wanted to visit him. That meant that his gay partner could visit if the patient gave permission but, if he was also married to a woman, he could tell the staff not to allow his wife to visit.
    There were also instances where a man or a woman was married to a heterosexual partner, but living with a different man or woman for many years, and had never divorced the first wife or husband. The original spouse was therefore the one who could make medical decisions if the patient was not able to. The lesson to be learned is if you do not want your almost ex-wife or almost ex-husband making your medical decisions, make sure you get a divorce!

  12. John Feeny says:

    Careful, Graypanther…your boy in the Oval Office is deeply into bed with corporations such as Goldman-Sachs and BP. Hypocrisy doesn’t come much more glaring. I gave you credit on your previous statement; you need to be a big boy and step up to the plate of truth.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Please ponder me this question, as a matter of law, hasn’t the ‘legal definition’ of marriage become obsolete?

    IOW, Would removing the designation of marriage in law moot the issue?

    It may seem a silly suggestion, but think about it.

    Graypanther –
    I don’t disagree with you, except with regard to the ‘agitation.’ CA nearly grants equality under the law with marriage. I would venture to gain that any issue which is determined to be inequitable in CA would lose any legal challenge. Aside from a CA avenue to forcing Federal interpretation and law, there is much more than equal rights, it’s more about punishing an opposition.

    Matt- Excellent post, and you didn’t even bring up the 501(c)3 issues for Gov’t “intervention.”

  14. graypanther says:

    John, you’re too astute to miss my point that badly. I wasn’t condoning Goldman Sachs, any of their doings, or anyone’s involvement with them; rather I was saying that the outrage over Wall Street’s excesses demonstrates that in this society, there are still active concepts of right and wrong.

  15. J.B. says:

    Randy, well spoken! Amen!

  16. Karla says:

    Men are allowed to marry dogs in India. What will happen here when Indians decide that their marriage laws should also be in effect here? muslims are working hard to implement sharia law here and abroad. Did the Jewish in Germany believe a Holocaust could happen in their country? 10 years ago would you have believed a muslim communist, with terrorist friends, would become president?

  17. Sam says:

    ouch, Karla.
    BZINGA

  18. whats_up says:

    Karla,

    Good thing that has happened huh?

  19. Jan says:

    Having worked and fellowshiped with many homosexuals I can honestly say that I love them as much as I love anyone else. I am with John, Matt, and Randy on the issue of protecting the sanctity (Holiness, blessedness, sacredness, purity)of marriage. A very dear friend of mine, who happens to be a staunch democrat, stated that we probably weren’t that far off in terms of political ideas. We both stated we were against redefining marriage but have no problem giving homosexuals “equal” rights. Give them rights in the hospital or hospice, give them inheritance rights, give those without changing the Holy institution of marriage. I also think it’s a slippery slope when others who can’t help how they are use this as a precedent. Whatever the outcome, I know many pastors/preachers who will leave the pulpit before they ever married a homosexual couple. Regardless if it becomes a law they will not follow a law that goes against God.

  20. John Buyon says:

    very interesting article Ronald, thought provoking, intellectually stimulating and full of insight. relatively rare in the literature of the right nowadays.

    just happy to say that the insane religious right has lost power in the GOP and that libertarianism is growing in that party, if this continues I might support the republicans.

  21. Randy Wills says:

    John, I don’t know what, in your estimation, qualifies one as part of the “insane religious right”, but I expect that, given my commitment to the Scriptures to define the correct worldview and optimal lifestyle, that’s how you would describe me.

    I wish you wouldn’t do that. I’m always interested in a vigorous debate of the issues (at least within the scope of my knowledge of them, which may prove to be less than yours on any given issue), but it makes it almost impossible when the other person uses such terms as “insane”. Hey, maybe I’ll borrow a saying from Dr. Jeremiah Wright: “different, but not deficient”.

    Randy

  22. whats_up says:

    Randy,

    I think what John meant was the part of the Conservative party that wants to mandate that everyone live by their moral code. They wish to force their beliefs on others.

  23. Randy Wills says:

    To “whats-up” @ 10:45:

    Thanks. That we agree on (that we have no right to impose our beliefs on others unless we would be comfortable with a more powerful “party”, in whatever form it might present itself, to impose its beliefs on us. It sort of goes along with “do unto others”, dosesn’t it?

    The public perception of the issue which Ronald presented in his article makes it difficult to express opposition to the use of the term “marriage” without it being thrown back at us as bigotry when in fact the objection that I have is what, to me, is the deliberate, in-your-face, usurpation of a term that has great historical and religious (or better yet, Scriptural) meaning to those of us who are of that persuasion. For me, the last straw is to have supposedly religious organizations and their “spiritual” leaders who profess to represent a belief system based on the Scriptures willing to engage in this perversion of the term “marriage”, knowing full well that same sex unions are inimical to the Scriptures.

    Randy

  24. whats_up says:

    @ Randy,

    I get what you are saying. To some degree I understand that. If every state would offer civil unions that were identical to the benefits that married couples have by law I would have no argument with you. However as long as there are benefits that are denied I have an issue.

  25. John Buyon says:

    @ Randy
    I truly enjoy our discussions.

    insane…. anyone who believes in the bible (especially old testament) as unalterable literal truth rather than creation myths of an ancient desert tribe.

    religious right… a peculiar invention of culture wars america where the teachings of Jesus Christ have morphed into a strange set of beliefs centered around jingoism, national religious conservatism, militarism, racism, bigotry, social Darwinism.
    I’m not saying you are exactly this just saying that this is what the religious right looks like to the citizens of the other developed nations.
    a sort of Hezbollah lite.

  26. whats_up says:

    @ Randy,

    One other thing. Religions evolve over time just like other things. The Christianity that we have today is not the same as what the early Christians practiced. After all Christmas was not celeberated as the birth of Christ until the 400′s and the date of Dec. 25th was picked for political reasons. So perhaps what you are living through is the evolution of a relegion. Just a thought.

  27. graypanther says:

    So perhaps what you are living through is the evolution of a religion.

    But the evolution of religion itself perennially occasions fierce debate within that religion. Unitarianism is today an accepted part of Christianity, but when Unitarian Christianity first arose, many who held fast to the trinitarian faith were scandalized. Similarly, there are Christians today who hold to the doctrine of inerrancy, which proclaims that the original word of the Bible cannot be questioned or reinterpreted; if inerrancy is upheld as a primary good, Christianity cannot evolve — it is fixed.

    Today there are many schisms within the Christian church because some clerics will perform same-sex marriages and some will not, some of the observant will concede the authority of gay bishops and some will not, some will accept the ordination of women… I personally would say that today’s Christianity is evolving rapidly, but not without considerable (and predictable) internal friction.

  28. Randy Wills says:

    Thanks, John, whats-up and, greypanther, for your follow-up comments. There’s much that we could agree on, although that part about “I’m not saying that you are exactly this” comes awfully close to damning me with faint praise, John.

    It would take a full article to adequately address the issues that you each bring up, but I’ll limit myself (I think that I just heard Jeff heave a sigh of relief) to saying that Christianity wouldn’t evoke so much negative “press” if those who claim to be such would stick to the fundamentals and live as though they actually believed what they say they do. Christianity is NOT whatever one would like to make it out to be; it all comes down to Galations 2:20.

    Thanks again, and I’m looking forward to more discussions with you as we go along.

    Randy

    P.S. I think that I’m still kind of somewhere with the “insane” crowd, but, come to think of it, some of those you call insane, John, aren’t too pleased with me either.

  29. graypanther says:

    Randy, I think this very much proves your point about Galatians. http://bit.ly/cJRirf

  30. Randy Wills says:

    Thanks, “graypanther @ 9:12 pm”, for the link to that article. It was very apropos to what we’ve been talking about. My next order from Amazon will include “Almost Christian”.

    Let me repeat something that I have said in the past; “The most dangerous lie is the one that’s almost true.” When the term “Christian” has become a term of convenience rather than an expression of commitment, that “lie” (that Christianity can be had short of a Gal. 2:20 type of commitment) will flourish.

    Randy

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