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 The California Supreme Court had previously allowed this right, and now it's been
revoked.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.