In the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial where closing arguments occurred a while ago, the supporters of Proposition 8 were trying to nullify the 18,000 same-sex marriages that were performed in the period between when they were declared legal and the passage of Proposition 8 (and upheld as legal even after that). Apparently that there are any married couples who are homosexuals—well, homosexuals who are married to each other—is too abhorrent for that ever-so-slight majority who voted to ban such unions, and those behind it feel compelled to go about negating (from a legal standpoint) that which was done.
I've made it very clear that I opposed Proposition 8, voted against it, and think it abhorrent that there's people who would go to such lengths to deny a group of Americans the same right that others have. And I think this latest salvo to negate existing marriages is absolutely a dick move. However, begrudgingly I can admit there's a certain internal consistency to it. If the law is that only those of different sex can be legally married then that's the law until such time as the law is changed or overturned.
Again, I'm not suggesting I agree with this attempt to take away these 18,000, but it is tricky to justify a situation where marriage ends up being a matter of getting there first.
Allow me to interject here, so we're all clear: Proposition 8 cannot be overturned fast enough in my book.
But I'm pretty sure that everybody already has an opinion on that topic, so now I'm just going to take this a prompt to ranterate (rant and ruminate) on the general notion.
If someone came along and told me that my marriage to my wife was no longer recognized by the state because a group of bigots got together and reinstated laws where only persons who were of the same race could be legally married... let's just say: I would not take it lying down.
In that risible scenario it's not as though the lack of acknowledgment by the state (that is, by the government) would not stop me from referring to her as my wife; it would not stop me from loving her more than anything; it would not change anything about how we feel about each other.
I'm certain this is true for those same-sex couples whose marriages may meet that fate (and for all those who couldn't get married in the first place). One does not require a license from the government to prove one's love, to prove one's commitment to another.
So what's the big deal then? If it's just a piece of paper issued by some city hall, why does it matter if you don't have it?
Precisely. If it doesn't matter, then why do those who are legally allowed to marry to get that?
It's a simple matter of fairness. It really boils down to just that. If the state were to declare that it wasn't recognizing marriages at all, that there was no longer any reason for it to have any stake in that arrangement (for whatever reason it did in the first place), then it would be treating everyone the same. They could leave it to churches to perform (or not) or whatever organizations that would undertake that task. For the purposes of this quasi-argument I'm leaving aside what the government does with this marital status information—in part because I don't really know what they do with it. This is all about whether or not it's fair for the state to decree that some people can marry and some cannot.
And I contend it is not.
(Oh, and to those who claim that "civil unions" are just as good as marriages I say: Okay, you give up your marriage license and get one of those instead. That's so obviously supposed to be "separate but equal" and egad have we not learned that lesson? Why don't we just make the gays and lesbians ride on the back of the bus and drink from separate water fountains?)
Individual citizens can oppose it for whatever reason they like (everyone has the right to be narrow-minded, bigoted, loathsome and intolerant in his/her mind). I'd even go so far as to say churches would be free to not recognize same-sex marriages if that runs contrary to the tenets of their faith. The government should not force anyone to accept one particular definition of love; the government should protect the freedom of all citizens to practice their own definitions of love (as long as that doesn't interfere with others' freedoms, of course—let's not go off on that tangent right now).
Right now the state is imposing one particular definition of love—that only heterosexual couples deserve to have their marriages approved—at the expense of those who don't meet that criterion. Perhaps I'm too much of a Pollyanna about the Bill of Rights, but that seems patently un-American.
But hey, I'm clearly just a lunatic who believes that love is something to be encouraged and endorsed (and for the love of the deity of your choice or lack thereof, don't blather on about "well, what if people love their animals?"--that is just being an imbecile), that a world where people are in loving relationships is one where those people don't want to screw it up.
What the hell do I know? Clearly I'm in a minority about this... and, well, apparently most things.
I don't expect to convince anyone of anything; this is merely what I felt like posting. (It's my blahg and I can do what I want. Apparently until some group decides they're so offended by the First Amendment that they convince a majority of the voting public I shouldn't have that.)
[Apologies for not having much of a tongue-in-cheek tone with this post, for those who have come to expect that.]