Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fear and Hate in Arizona

I've said before that this isn't a political blog. I am not opposed to writing about politics. I just think that there are a lot of people out there who are a lot more informed than I am who do a much better job of it than I could. But I read a blog post today about Proposition 8 in California, and I considered it a personal call to action about our similar Prop 102 in Arizona. So I'm not going to write about politics. I am going to tell you, as a parent, how I feel about Prop 102 and you can like what I have to say, or not like it, but be a grown up and go vote on the issues based on what you really and truly value in your life, not out of fear and hate.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that these propositions have to do with same-sex marriage. In Arizona, we already defeated this proposed amendment to the state's constitution in 2006. But it is back this election cycle with a vengeance. It is now being called the "Yes for Marriage" proposition. This initiative, if passed, would add a provision to our constitution stating: "Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state." A provision which our forebears didn't deem necessary to define. This is an amendment to the constitution, people! (BTW, we already have a law in Arizona, which has been upheld in court, prohibiting same-sex marriages. I'm not saying I support this law, but simply asking, "what's the point?" Is there really no better way to spend our resources than attempting, once again, to constitutionalize discrimination?)

So let's look at this "Yes for Marriage" amendment from the perspective a parent thinking about the values she wishes to instill in her young children as they grow up. Yes, let's pass an amendment protecting marriage in our state. Here is what I propose: That marriage be a choice between two people who are choosing to be together, who love each other and are mutually committed to support each other throughout their lives. That marriage not be entered into lightly, because it might be fun to jaunt off to Vegas and do it on a whim. Obviously, there are a lot of things I could say here about what marriage should mean. Simply defining marriage as between a man and a woman certainly isn't going to protect the values that should be inherent in a good marriage.

Think about what a constitutional amendment would take away from same-sex couples who are in a loving, committed relationship raising a family together. If passed, it would trigger lawsuits to take away all domestic partner benefits for state, county, and city employees, including public university faculty and staff. It will also negatively impact private businesses that provide these benefits to their employees. Whether or not you agree with same-sex unions, would you really propose to take away these benefits, not just from domestic partners, but also their children? Benefits that you are entitled to with your spouse to whom you are legally married, regardless of whether or not you have a loving, committed relationship with him or her?

When I think about what I want my children to learn to value, fear and hate aren't on that list. But that is all that I see when I look at those Yes for Marriage signs up all over town. Because they're not at all about Yes to Marriage. They're about Yes to Fear what is different than us, and Yes to Hate a lifestyle that is not of our choosing.

I don't know what lies ahead for my children. They may become doctors, or teachers, musicians or circus acts. They may choose to marry or be single. They may be straight or gay. Will any of these life paths, should my children take them, make me love them any less or be disappointed in them? Absolutely not. Do I want for them to look back on this moment in our state's history and think for one second that I was lured by the fear and hate, and the empty promise of protecting everything that this one woman who chose to marry one man holds dear in the sanctity of her marriage? Absolutely not! On November 4, I will cast a vote to protect everything that I value most in my life. I will vote no on Prop. 102.

19 comments:

Mr Lady said...

Thank you for writing this. I'm stealing the link.

My cousin lives in AZ and is married under whatever it is you guys have in place now. And they just had a baby. She CANNOT lose her rights to her daughter.

So, really, thank you, with all my heart.

Reamworks said...

Some Evangelical Clergy are urging people to vote NO on proposition 8. Perhaps that accounts for the fact that the NO side is gaining ground.

Also, shouldn't Christians be more concerned about the Parental Notification initiative? I think Christians have been bamboozled by out-of-state interests.

Erika said...

This is a very well-written, heartfelt, and rational argument, not only against hate-filled legislation, but for loving, healthy relationships. Thank you. I hope the "No" votes win.

Catherine said...

Here! Here! Isn't it amazing the time, money and effort that some people go through to push their values and beliefs on others! There seem to be poorly written initiatives on every states ballots... I can think of a few here in Colorado.

Scary Mommy said...

That was a wonderfully convincing argument, not that I needed convincing. Couldn't agree more.

Micah & Sarah said...

You make some good points. I don't look at it as hate or fear. If I don't fight for my values then other people's values will be pushed on me. That's the beauty of democracy. If the majority of the people share this value then it is our right to make sure that the loud minority doesn't undermine that value. The knife cuts both ways. There are things where I am a minority so my values are legislated. I, for one, think wearing seatbelts shouldn't be the law but the majority of our legislatures do so I am "forced" to wear a seatbelt.

becky w. said...

Sarah,

If you don't consider it fear or hate, then what do you call discrimination? And I don't think it is a LOUD MINORITY undermining what you value. We did, after all, defeat this same ballot iniciative two years ago. I think that is a pretty clear message that a majority of people are standing up against this discrimintion and for equality no matter how one decides to define their own family unit. Can you honestly tell me that a constitutional ban on same sex marriage would protect your family? From what, exactly?

Micah & Sarah said...

This is NOT the same initiative that was on the ballot in 2006. That one was discriminatory. THIS one is not. Defining Marriage as between a man and a woman is not discrimination.

Just because you say it is discrimination doesn't mean it is. I'm sorry you feel that way. The way I see it 102 doesn't take away a single right.

Also, I never said banning gay marriage protects MY family. I will continue to teach my children what I believe and they will choose their path in life.

This is a complex issue because morally I am opposed to homosexuality. Do I hate gay people? No. Do I think gay people deserve less than I? No. There is a quote I try to live by. "Hate the sin and not the sinner." I am free to believe that homosexual activity is a sin but that doesn't mean I will try and take away the rights of someone who choose to live that lifestyle.

I really want to know why you think this is discrimination.

becky w. said...

If you don't think that banning same-sex marriage is protecting your family, than what is the whole "Yes for Marriage" thing about?

Your question about why this constitutional amendment is discrimination was already answered by you in your comment when you said, "that doesn't mean I will try and take away the rights of someone who choose to live that lifestyle." You see, passing an amendment to define marriage as ONLY BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN does take away rights. I will grant you that as it stands now in AZ, the rights of legally married couples are not afforded to same-sex couples because of a law that already exists. So why do we need to amend the constitution? Passing this amendment will make it harder for people who are together out of desire to be with thier loved one and choose to raise a family out of love, just as you or I are, and deserve the same rights that you and I have to protect our families to be afforded those rights. And that is not my opinion of discrimination, that is discrimination.

Your problem is in believing that people who are homosexual actually have the ability to choose their sexual orientation. That is why you can't see this law as discriminatory, because you actually believe that they are choosing their lifestyle.

By the way, I am morally opposed to someone who would choose (yes that is a choice, see the difference?) to not wear a seatbelt to protect themselves in case of a car accident. You see, there's a law that actually protects people. If you were thrown from your car and killed in an accident, what would happen to your family then? But if that is a value that you want to instill in your children, then by all means you should have that right.

Micah & Sarah said...

How is your lifestyle not your choice? I didn't say sexual preference I said lifestyle.

What if I told you that I was born with a natural desire to have multiple partners? I don't think is discriminatory that polygamy is illegal because I believe I need to overcome those desires and remain faithful to just one partner.

becky w. said...

First, I didn't say preference because preference involves a choice. I said sexual orientation, which a person does not have free will or control over. Poligamy is illegal, but there is not a constitutional amendment against it, nor am I proposing that there be one.

Let's go back to the 2006 initiative that failed, the one you said was discrimination. That amendment included civil unions and domestic partnerships. So the only difference between then and now is that today's amendment only includes same-sex unions. The framers of this proposal made sure to leave out domestic partnerships so that straight people living together without being married wouldn't be discriminated against and this hate disguised as protection might have a chance of passing. This time around, the law only includes gays.

I agree. You're right. The new improved Yes for Marriage law isn't discrimination at all.

Micah & Sarah said...

I know neither of us is going to convince the other but I still think it is good to hear what the other side has to say and accept our differences. Thank you for the respectful debate. I have my imperfections and I learned a lot. I guess my issue is that I really don't believe sexual orientation is something you aren't free to choose. Love takes effort and choices. Physical attraction is just a small part of the equation. Creating life is a gift from God and it is vital to society. It is a sacred responsibility for man and woman to pass life to the next generation. I believe the purpose of Marriage is to create a bond where children can enter this world.

I wish you all the best. I really do. Thank you for the respectful debate.

Minxy Mimi said...

I agree with your post and your viewpoints. The only thing that is harming marriage as we know it is not gay marriages... it is a lack of respect, kindness, empathy and partners that are not being monogamous. I live in Cali and I am appalled that this prop probably will pass. These props are basically looking to take rights away from people whom others think are "sinful" It sickens me honestly. If it isnt affecting YOUR marriage, I say stay out of it. because allowing gays to marry and/or have civil unions wont hurt anyones marriage, not mine, not yours... unless we allow it ourselves.

Kristina P. said...

Becky, thanks for commenting on my blog!

I've been reading a lot about Prop 8 in California, even though I live in Utah. Ultimately, my personal decision is that I would vote for it. However, I do not take that lightly, and I have a lot of problems with the way the LDS church is getting involved in politics here.

And, considering that heterosexual couples get marred and divorced in the same week, all the time, doesn't really make a strong argument for the sanctity of marriage.

Gay marriage has nothing to do with my relationship with my husband, but pornography does, drugs and alcohol, gangs, etc.

It's a tough issue. I appreciate your insight.

I'm adding you to my Reader!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...allow me to take this in a somewhat different direction and ask the question, 'What is marriage?' Until we agree on what marriage really is, encoding one particular definition of 'marriage' in the state constitution seems premature.

Let me approach it by examining what marriage is not, as perhaps that is easier to do.

1. Is marriage an eternal seal, sanctified by God (or the deity of your choosing)? If so, then the state constitution is irrelevant because God (or the deity of your choosing) can sanctify whatever he / she / they / it holds true, and whatever is written on mere paper by mere mortals means nothing. Hence, I believe anyone who intends to vote for 102 based on a religious interpretation of marriage should re-evaluate whether they truly believe in the omnipotence of their God (or the deity of their choosing). Hence, I will try to leave religion out of the rest of this discussion. Anyone who is voting for 102 based on their belief that God (or the deity of their choosing) is bound in any way to respect marriage as defined by law created by mortals, please speak up.

2. At the risk of being blunt, is marriage a way of humans sanctifying the act of intercourse at all? If so, then this bill is poorly written to the extreme, as anyone who holds this view should be supporting a state constitution suporting abstinance until marriage. I somehow suspect that such an amendment would fail badly; I do not know anyone who believes government should be dictating whether WOMAN X and MAN Y are allowed to have intercourse. Anyone who is voting for 102 based on their belief that government should dictate whether WOMAN X and MAN Y should be able to have sex, please speak up, but I doubt I will hear support for that viewpoint.

3. To continue this, perhaps some may feel marriage is a way of humans sanctifying certain acts of intercourse, but not all. This really seems to be the root of what 102 is saying. Prop 102 does not talk at all about what qualifies one person to marry another other than their gender, so unless you argue for other inherent, unsurmountable differences between the sexes, I'll assume such people believe certain physical biological differences are what defines gender. From this, I will then assume that anyone voting for 102 for its stated reason (marriage is between one man and one woman) is saying that the defining characteristic of marriage is the genetalia involved. I do not know about anyone else, but my girlfriend and I would most certainly disagree with that. Please speak up if you believe the genetalia are what define marriage.

4. Perhaps what is left is to say marriage is between a WOMAN and a MAN because that's what it takes to make a baby? This characterization would exclude those who either by choice decide not to have children, as well as exclude those who by unfortunate circumstance are unable to have children. If the ability of the people involved to create combined genetic material is the defining characteristic of marriage, then anyone who is unfortunate enough to be sterile should logically be prohibited from getting married to anyone. I doubt this approach would generate much support, but it is the logical extension. Please speak up if you believe that 'the ability to have a baby' is the defining characteristic of marriage.

5. Having exhausted all else, perhaps marriage is simply the expression of love between two people? Perhaps it is a statement of such love to each other, complete with hopes for and a commitment to each other to be together for the rest of their natural lives (and beyond, depending on the beliefs of those involved)? Perhaps for those unfortunate enough to require external validation, it is only when such professions of love and commitment to each other are witnessed by their families and friends, and complete with the hope and expectation that all their loved ones will support them in this lifelong journey together? Sadly, no, that's not it, either, for if that were the case than any two people, deeply in love, could be standing anywhere, and say such things, and mean them sincerely, and they would be married. I actually wish that this were the defining characteristic of marriage. I really do. This is the value I intend to instill in my children. However, it is not the reality we live in today, nor do I forsee a time when it is true. How many of us have told that special person in our life that we love them, perhaps even professed how we yearn for them and need them and want to be together forever...and yet clearly that did not make us married to that person. I wish it did. I hope others feel it does. However, I'm realistic enough to acknowledge that it doesn't, because that isn't what marriage is. It may be what a wonderful, special, magical lifelong commitment to the most wonderful other person in the world is, a clear statement of how that amazing person completes you in ways you could not ever have imagined previously. But it is not marriage in the eyes of anyone but me, I fear.

So what is left? Have I destroyed all the wonder of marriage by attacking all the things people frequently consider marriage to be? Perhaps. I will leave that to each of you to judge. But since I fear I have risked removing the romance from marriage with my last point, allow me to ponder why such a statement of mutual love and commitment for the rest of your life doesn't feel like marriage when done with just the support of each other and those we care about. Its because, sadly, marriage is a purely legal thing. Nothing more, nothing less. Prop 102, and anyone who supports it, confirms that marriage is merely a legal thing. Legal, as in having to do with the LAW, which is what this proposition is addressing. You are married if and only if (and when) the government says you are married, end of story. It is a legally binding contract that the state defines when and BY WHOM can be entered into, when can be dissolved, and what rights and/or responsibilities it encompasses. Anyone who does not believe that marriage is merely a legal thing, anyone who believes that marriage is about something more, cannot possibly support codifying gender as the defining characteristic of marriage into the constitution of the state, or even into the state's laws. Because if marriage is about more than just the law, then what is in the state's constitution is irrelevant. In order to vote in favor of 102, one must first concede that marriage is defined by law, not by love or anything else. If marriage is at all about love, about long-term commitment, about declaring that commitment to each other and asking for and expecting to receive the support of those who love us in nurturing that, then the law is irrelevant and love conquers all. But that may just be me dreaming again, because if marriage really is about all those good things, the love, the commitment, the support of those we love, then I need to find a way to break it to my girlfriend that we are already married.

Anonymous said...

r.e. Micah & Sarah's original post:

If I don't fight for my values then other people's values will be pushed on me. That's the beauty of democracy. If the majority of the people share this value then it is our right to make sure that the loud minority doesn't undermine that value.

I disagree with this quite strongly. The beauty of our democracy (republic, technically) is NOT that the values of the majority rule and are pushed onto the minority. It is exactly the opposite...the beauty of our Constitution is that the values of the majority cannot trample the rights of the minority. Think in terms of those 'vocal minorities' who were persecuted in their various homelands and wished to come to America so that they could live as they chose to. The majority of the U.S. population is Christian, but the Constitution prohibits them from creating a law banning Buddhism, for example. The perceived values of the majority should not and must not be allowed to overrule the rights of the minority. Re-read the Declaration of Independence and ponder this: If you truly believe that all men are created equal, and that they have unalienable Rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, and if you believe marriage is a part of that pursuit, then prop 102 violates the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, wouldn't you agree?

Micah & Sarah said...

You're absolutely right. I can't push my values on anyone else. That also isn't my intent. The inherent rights of every individual should be protected by the constitution. I just don't consider marriage an inalienable right. It is what it is (between man and woman) and I want to protect that definition. I'm sorry if I sounded that way but there are always two sides to each issue. I believe homosexuality is wrong and that is my right. I am not voting to take away any civil rights or prevent civil rights. Marriage is not a civil right issue! Defining marriage as one man and one woman does not take away life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

I honestly don't hate homosexuals. I don't approve of their lifestyle. I also don't approve of the lifestyle of drug addicts, alcoholics, thieves, adulterers, fornicators, etc. but I can still love the individuals who live those lifestyles.

When the no side accuses us of hate they are side stepping the real issue which is whether or not homesexuality is genetic. There is no conclusive research to show that it is but everyone seems to just assume it is and call this a civil rights issue. Sexual orientation is not the same as gender or skin color. You can BECOME homosexual. Homosexuals can also BECOME heterosexual.

Anonymous said...

Micah & Sarah,

I do not mean to imply that you are in any way prejudicial, or hateful, or anything else. However, I want to convince you and anyone else who is voting for 102 of this one thing:

Before you can vote in favor of prop 102, you must agree that marriage is a LEGAL entity, not a LOVE entity or RELIGIOUS entity.

Do you agree with this statement?

If you don't agree with it, then 102 is irrelevant because marriages will still continue to happen between any two people who love each other and / or have some sort of a union that is sanctioned by their God (or deity of their choosing). If you don't agree with that statement, then whatever else marriage is other than a LEGAL thing can trump this proposed amendment to the state constitution, so this is utterly pointless.

On the other hand, if you (or anyone supporting 102) do agree with this statement that marriage is a LEGAL entity, then it might make sense for you (or other 102 supporters) to want to make the law match their particular values. However, if this is the case, you err in supporting 102 while saying it is not a civil rights issue or a discrimination issue. 102 does not say anything about homosexuality at all; it says only that people must have mis-matched biological organs in order to enter into a certain type of legal entity. It says that for each person, only certain other persons can be chosen by them to enter into this legal entity with. It says that I, being male, must choose someone who is female in order to enter into this legal entity with me, and that I cannot choose someone from the ~50% of the population who has the same biological organs as me. The equivalent would be a law saying that only two people of the same race could choose to enter into this legal entity together. I think most people would agree that that is a civil rights issue. Similarly, a law saying that only two people of the same religious beliefs could choose to enter into this legal entity together. Again, I feel most people would agree this is a civil rights issue. Explain to me how restricting this legal entity based on biological organs is OK, but restricting this legal entity based on race or religion is not OK. I'd love to hear that rationale, especially since the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution made it pretty clear that a person's biological organs shouldn't matter.

P.S. I appreciate your participation in this debate...if any government 'of the people, by the people, and for the people' is to work, it can only be when the people carry on intelligent discourse about the issues. :)

Micah & Sarah said...

I see where you're coming from. If marriage were SIMPLY a legal contract like any other (Sales Contract, employment contract, etc). Then it shouldn't be restricted to couples of the opposite sex. Marriage is a legal contract but it is a unique contract designed for a unique purpose.

Why do laws exist? In this country our law makers try to make laws to protect individual freedom and promote the general welfare of society. Laws tend to prohibit behavior that has a negative effect on society or promote behavior that has a positive effect on society. Example: It is against the law to kill - for obvious reasons. Government might make an incentive for buying an energy efficient appliance by reducing taxes for those who do. What about zoning laws? A city can tell me what I can build where and how I can and can't use it - which benefits the growth and welfare of the citizens. They may zone half the city as residential and I may find a piece of land that I really want to put a business on but I can't. It is normal for laws to limit our choices.

Without being religious there are a lot of good reasons to make marriage a legal contract between 1 man and 1 woman. That is why marriage exists as a legal contract in the first place. Generally speaking, most people would agree that heterosexual intercourse is a good thing. You and I wouldn't exist if your mother and father never had sex. Does a couple need marriage to have sex? Not at all. We all know this happens all the time, right? Traditionally, society dictated that a couple should be married before having sex? Why? There are social and religious reasons but legally I wouldn't want to have sex with someone unless we were both committed to each other for the rest of our life. This has changed quite a bit over time thanks to fancy contraceptives but the principal is still there. Heterosexual intercourse has the potential to create new life. That is a key idea. Marriage isn't defined so that person with organ X can marray person with organ Y it is so that a Man and Woman can be joined together and form a family. It's that simple. I believe that marriage defined as that is beneficial to society.

Civil Rights? First, having a union of two individuals be called Marriage is not a civil rights issue. If a married couple has rights that an unmarried couple doesn't than that is not affected by prop 102. It neither grants nor removes any rights to couples whether they are married or not.

I've heard the argument, "So should it be illegal for infertile couples to get married? What about old people?" My response is that there is no exact age when people can no longer have children. I've heard stories of women ages 60-88 getting pregnant. Interesting side note: In Arizona you can marry your first cousin but only if you are both over 65 or if you're under 65 you must be tested and found not able to procreate. It is all beside the point. The point is that marriage between a man and a woman is beneficial to society and that is why it exists. Once enough American or the right americans believe other forms of marriage are beneficial to the general welfare of the people then prop 102 will get overturned. I, for one, haven't been convinced...yet.