Monday, October 13, 2008

Why I say "Yes" to Prop 8

This is part of my concluding reply from a discussion about Proposition 8. I hope it will explain why someone who neither hates, nor is afraid of gay people or same-gender relationships, would still support such a proposition. Please consider it and know that I am sincere.

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this discussion so far. I really appreciate being able to have a thoughtful, respectful exchange like this. I'm afraid everyone may be tired of hearing from me, but I would like to say how much I love and respect you all. I hope you don't mind if I shift the discussion here to clarify one important point and to share what defending this issue has meant for me personally.

I realize I've been pretty vocal about defending my constitutional right to have and legislate my views. And while I may be accused of discrimination, because of the sincere belief I hold about what marriage truly is, it cannot be claimed as unlawful discrimination. To be sure, in the purest meaning of the word "discriminate" (recognize or perceive the difference) I AM discriminating, but it is not based on
prejudice. It is based on my firm belief--which can be debated, but cannot be conclusively proven false--that marriage means, and has always meant, the joining of man and woman. The claim that it means, or should be changed to mean, anything other than that is a relatively new claim in the context of human history.

Now please, on a personal note, I would like you to consider something else that I consider significant and would like to make perfectly clear. I do not hate gay people. I do not think they should be prevented from loving and committing themselves to someone they love. Further, I do not think marriage should be reserved for me because I think I am better than another person. To the contrary, I believe marriage and family are the most important, most fulfilling, most noble things in this life, and yes, because of my religious beliefs, in all of eternity as well. And I sincerely desire for ALL to have it. I find it truly heartbreaking that good, loving, committed people, some of whom I know and love personally, should be denied this opportunity. But it is not because they are less of a person or less deserving, or even less righteous than I am. It is because they have chosen a pattern which is inconsistent with the true definition of marriage. (Also, I would like to reiterate that defining marriage as between a man and woman will not revoke any rights that civil unions and domestic partnerships currently allow and will not prevent same-gender couples from being committed to each other.) Furthermore, I am NOT asserting that homosexual desires are something a person can choose or control, but behavior is. I am not ignorant of the fact that someone who is attracted to the same sex would find it incredibly, even painfully, difficult to not act on those desires. To the contrary, it hurts me as well and I don't think I'm overstating it to say that I feel sincere anguish. But these points relate to the reason I define marriage the way I do and are beyond the scope of Proposition 8. Prop 8 does not pass judgment, prevent, or punish a person from acting on homosexual desires or from committing to any person they choose--it merely defines the term "marriage" as being between a woman and a man.

So if I'm not motivated by hate or fear, and I know that what I am defending is causing sincere, loving, capable people pain, why should I do it? Why don't I put my personal beliefs aside and allow for a change in marriage? Consider also, please, that by defending my view I will (and have been) be accused of bigotry and stupidity. Why go through all this unnecessary pain on both sides? Can you imagine, please, what it
might feel like to knock on a door, pick up the phone, or write out a message when you are certain to be reviled and persecuted? You may not think so from the way I have been so vocal in this forum, but I am not a confrontational person. I normally avoid it whenever possible. Those of you who know me personally can affirm this. I am extremely uncomfortable with the thought that something I do brings another pain. The only thing that could motivate me to defend my belief in marriage so fiercely is that it is true.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Jennifer B.

Comments are now closed.


Anonymous said...

As a person with several gay friends, I too have struggled with this issue. I believe same-sex couples should share all of the legal rights and benefits of heterosexual couples. In California, at least, this is already the case.
When local church leaders began encouraging their congregations to support 8, I felt uncomfortable with the idea... as though supporting the legislation would make me prejudiced or a bigot. However, the more I looked into the matter, the more I realized that passing Prop 8 would not alter the rights of my homosexual friends, it would simply secure the rights of our churches to continue to practice what they preach.
If the definition of marriage is altered (and that is the only thing that a "no" on Prop 8 vote achieves)rabbis, priests, pastors and bishops could be forced to perform same sex marriages, even if their Church preaches against the practice. This is the reason that prop 8 is receiving so much support from virtually every Christian church.
No one is trying to curb the rights of ANY individual. Prop 8 is merely trying to protect the rights of churches to preach according to their understanding of God's will.
Thanks for your post-- I know the difficulty of voicing such opinions.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciated your blog. I live in a town very opposed to Prop 8 and even in my own ward and stake this issue has created division. I had just returned from walking a voter precinct in support of Prop 8 when I came home and read your blog. I am also very adverse to conflict and not a hateful person out to force my opinions on others. I do not want to deprive others of rights or benefits; however it seems to me the only one who loses their right to chose here is me if Prop 8 fails. Very few of my friends at the school and neighborhood support Prop 8 and I have been lectured many times and generally stereotyped into a prejudiced and hateful person for my point of view. I am sure this makes those on the other side of the issue feel safe and noble, but a closer look or taking the time to hear me out would affirm that I have no hate rather I love those with these tendencies and want nothing negative to come to them. I also could only be motivated to stand up for this by one thing and that is my conscience in carrying on values I believe in for my children. Thank you for helping me feel part of a compassionate group of people who care enough to stand up on an uncomfortable topic.

Jennifer B. said...

Thank you both for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate it more than you know.

ms. lee of the lemon drops said...

jen rock on:

Defining marriage as between one man and one woman is not taking away anyone's rights. The definition simply distinguishes a union that is biologically capable of producing its own children. Whether a married couple has children or not, I feel like this deserves a separate name--even the potential is kind of a miracle.

Actually this definition can be seen as the ultimate expression of equality our society has to offer: it takes one man and one woman. One could see a lesbian union as a marginalization of men, or a homosexual union as a marginalization of women.

Equality is especially important when it comes to raising children. Children deserve/need a father and a mother. Neither parent should be marginalized.

Yes, many children are already growing up in single-parent homes. Prop 8 should be a reminder to everyone that as a society we need to assist and strengthen families as much as possible. Really, as a society we should be most concerned with the success and health of our families.

peace out

ms. lee of the lemon drops said...

for more perspectives on this issue:

Millie said...

Bless you for your courage to stand up for this important issue.

I kind of wish I lived there so I could vote "yes" too. :)

Jennifer B. said...

Thanks Millie! I would be glad to have you live here too--and not just to get your vote! :)

Erik said...

For a few years now, my partner, Adam, and I have been asked regularly whether we’d be getting married. Would we go to Boston? Montreal? California? Last week, our friends began asking about Connecticut, where we’re renting a weekend house for the fall and winter.

I never wanted to get married. I don’t much like weddings or being the center of attention. I dread wearing a tuxedo, and one of my bigger fears is that Adam and I dress alike—so you can imagine how I feel when we’re both in black tie. (Registering for gifts does have an appeal, especially when I think about how much we’ve spent on wedding gifts over the years.) More important, I know that Adam and I love each other very, very much, and that neither of us is going anywhere without the other. We’ve always agreed that we’d like to be able to get married, if only for the rights that come with it. But since we’ve been under the impression that many of those rights—probate, hospital visits—involve worst-case scenarios, we’ve been more interested in principle.

Then something changed.

When I quit my job a few months ago, Adam graciously offered to support me while I decided what to do next. First, he looked into getting me on his health insurance, because my former company’s plan was lame. His company allows domestic partners to be covered, so one day he sent me an email that said, “I’d love it if you’d go to the Municipal Building to pick up the domestic partnership form.” (I replied something along the lines of “How romantic,” to which he pointed out that his email did have the word “love” in it.) Standing in one line after another—alone amid a crowd of couples—gave me ample time to ponder how gay people are treated unequally in our society. I got the form, and we went back a few days later to wait in more lines. We didn’t pop Champagne afterward: Being domestic partners gives us few legal rights other than allowing us to visit each other in city prisons and city-owned hospitals—e.g., Bellevue.

Later, Adam and I realized that in order to maintain my good credit, I need to pay my mortgage with the money that I’ve saved (he paid cash for his half of our apartment), but he can only give me $12,000 a year before it starts getting taxed as a gift. I’ve quickly learned that I don’t like taking money from him—having to ask for cash makes me feel like a teenager in the worst possible way—but it beats not having money at all.

If we were married, I’d automatically be eligible for his health insurance. If we were married, we’d be able to share the mortgage and the payments. If we were married, he could give me all the financial support I need. If we were married, he’d be able to visit me in Bellevue when I’ve banged my head against the wall, railing against the absurdity of it all.

Focusing on the financial benefits of marriage makes me feel like a Jane Austen heroine (make that the mother of a Jane Austen heroine), but my current situation has clarified for me the importance of the institution: It’s a legal and societal framework for supporting someone you love—for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health.

So many Americans get stuck on the word “marriage.” You can call it whatever you want. Just let me have the equal rights that I need and deserve. I won’t even care if you don’t send a gift.

Jennifer B. said...

Thanks for your comment Erik. I really appreciate you commenting here--I just read that post yesterday on your blog. I am sorry it is so difficult for committed couples to receive health and other financial benefits if they are not married. I don't know if the laws are different in New York, but in California, domestic partnerships offer all of the same rights and benefits as marriage does. I know that it does not extend to federal benefits, but I believe those issues can and should be addressed on a federal level. I'm really not out to prevent any couple from making a life together or from being able to help and love one another. But I do believe that the power to bring children into the world makes marriage something different than a partnership. I hope you are not offended by my views. I respect you so much and glad you took the time to comment here.

Queen Scarlett said...

I've been having people call me names... and see the labels thrown at people who want to have an honest discussion. So I appreciate your calm and collected manner in discussing the issues.

This post by my friend really helped to organize the thoughts in my own head.

Thought it might be nice to your readers as well.

Jenn said...

I just finished reading all your posts and comments and I guess I missed quite a discussion. You handled all the comments with such grace. You are very well spoken and I am continually amazed by your ability to put your thoughts into words so perfectly. Thank you for hosting such a wonderful topic discussion.

Jennifer B. said...

Thank you Jenn. The discussion you missed was part of an e-mail loop and not posted here on my blog. It was very lengthy and so I only posted a couple of replies here that I thought summed things up.

Daniel said...


I came across your post randomly and had to respond. I feel saddened by your thoughts and opinions.

To me what it sounds like you are saying is that it's ok for gays & lesbians to be in domestic partnerships, or civil unions..just not marriages. That argument sounds an awful lot like "separate but equal" which history clearly shows does not work.

And if you (and anyone else voting "Yes on 8") truly cared about protecting marriage, don't you think Prop 8 should be about making divorce illegal? THAT would be a true protection of the current definition of marriage.

You state that marriage has held the same definition throughout history. Unfortunately that is just not true. There have been times in history where certain men could marry several women at one time.

Marriage is a clear definition and protection between two committed people. There is no questioning what rights a married couple has (unlike domestic partnerships & civil unions).

Lastly, the only thing I could ask is... if you are a straight person, how does a gay couple getting married affect you or your life at all?

Please truly research your stance and search your heart... a "yes" vote on 8 is ELIMINATING a right. That is a scary thought.. what other rights down the road could end up on a petition someday that could be taken away from another group of people?

Jennifer B. said...

Daniel, thanks for your comments. To respond to your concerns, I refer you to my more recent posts.

There are currently several legal limits on marriage--these do not eliminate rights, but define them. Passing Prop. 8 will take no substantial rights away from gay couples.