Wednesday, November 5, 2008

California Gay Marriage Ban Passes

Gavin Newsom said it best when he stated that California now has the dubious distinction of being the first U.S. State to take away a right that has previously been granted. Proposition 8 passed tonight, writing into our state constitution the refusal of the right of marriage to same-sex couples. The California Supreme Court had previously allowed this right, and now it's been
revoked. Newsom added that, regardless of your moral position as a voter, you can't ignore that California's economy has been so strong for so long because it attracts talented, hard-working young people of all walks of life, gay or straight, and this intiative is saying, "Regardless of your ability, we don't want you." I don't appreciate intrusive moralists, acting as part of a national campaign based in Virginia and organized by fundamentalist elites, taking this social reverse-engineering project upon themselves. This is incredibly disappointing and embarrassing for my chosen home state, a state I'm very proud to call my home.

There are two reasons people often provide (and conflate) in arguing to take away this right. The first is the consequentialist argument. It says: marriage is a fundamental building block of society, and if we allow gay marriage to alter the institution, we'll irreversibly damage society. Guess what? Massachusetts already has it. Spain has it. Canada and other U.S. states have civil unions, and civilization hasn't ended in any of those places. Sorry - the consequentialist argument is dead on arrival.

The other approach to morality is absolutism. The absolutist argument is that gay marriage is wrong because it's wrong, period, no matter the consequences or lack thereof. I have yet to meet a single person making this argument who isn't making it out of religious convictions (and sure enough, the Bible does say to kill gay people). The problem here is that religious convictions are fine, except where they're hurting your neighbor even when your neighbor isn't doing anything that demonstrably hurts you. If, as Jefferson said, he is neither breaking your leg nor picking your pocket, you have nothing to say about him. And real small-government Republican officials agree.

I think it says something that this effort to take away a civil right is one of the few victories of conservatives on Election Day 2008. Do conservatives really want to be known as a force for big intrusive government? It seems the answer is a resounding yes.


Betsy said...

Dear Tom Paine,

I am a liberal. I stumbled upon your page by accident and I am very glad to have done so.

What happened in this election was nothing more and nothing less than the political pendulum swinging back and forth. I am happy for now, but soon enough you will be happy because the pendulum has swung the other way. This is how things are and how they were meant to be. It is this competiion that is meant to keep the American political process on its toes.

I have been despairing in recent years because of the fusion of church and state. It has been happening so openly, so quickly and with such authority I was afraid that there were no Republicans willing to question it.

Your words about Proposition 8 have given me great peace. My father (a religious Republican with whom I have butted heads many times) once said that well-intentioned people can look at the same set of facts and disagree. I am myself not gay, and would never have an abortion, however these are choices that I would not want to take away from other people. I don't know them, or about their lives. Their choices don't affect me, thus they are none of my business. I think on this at least we can agree.

Thank you for doing this page.


Thomas Paine Jr. said...

I'm glad you liked the post. For me this is an open-and-shut case - it neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg (thank you Jefferson), and I've not yet heard a single argument made in favor of taking away this right from gay people outside of religious bigotry. It's disturbing that voters who describe themselves as in favor of small government aren't troubled at all by interfering in basic rights like this one.