Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Brief Digression into Politics

A plea for you to vote "No" on CA Proposition 8, and maintain the rights of same-sex couples in California.

I really hate using this blog as a political forum. I have a personal blog I use for that, read only by people who know me. This blog should be expressly for computer-related topics. I apologize to readers expecting me to talk about concurrency or APIs or anything else. I apologize to readers who don't like to see discussion of this issue, or to those who have a problem with the way I handle it.

Today's post is just for the California voters. On November 4th, we are going to be asked to vote on Proposition 8, which is only 14 words long: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Please vote no on this proposition, and keep California safe for families of all kinds.

A lot of you might wonder why a heterosexual who only blogs about software engineering and computer science might feel compelled to write about this topic. The answer is simple: I see it as one of the most important American civil rights issues of the early part of the 21st century (there are obviously much more serious issues in other countries).

I know lesbians and gays with children. Why should they have to explain to their children that their friends' mommies and daddies can be married, but that their mommies and daddies can't?

I know lesbians and gays who have been together for decades: through pain, and joy, and hardship, and victory. I've seen the love in their eyes when they were finally able to say those vows to each other and have it mean something in the eyes of society. They have just as much right to that as I do. Don't take that away from them.

I wonder what will happen when my friends in same-sex couples get sick when they are in a state with the wrong kind of law, and their partners can't visit them, or make life-or-death decisions for them. I wonder what happens when two people work all of their lives to build something together, and, when one of them dies, the state comes and takes half of it away because they didn't happen to be in a relationship that fits everyone's idea of what a relationship should be.

A lot of people say that civil unions provide the same thing without calling it marriage. This is simply not true. The issue is that civil unions will be treated differently by other states and by the Federal government, many of which don't recognize civil unions.

A lot of people are worried that churches will be forced to perform these ceremonies. This just clouds the issue. If you are worried that churches might be forced to perform weddings against their will, then lobby for a change to the constitution that says that churches can't be forced to perform marriages against their will. Don't side with the people — and we all know that they are out there, and how they will vote — who hate without reason, and take the right to be married away.

A lot of people are worried that their children will be exposed to homosexuality in the classroom. There is a law in our state that says that you can't teach children about those issues without their parents' consent. It's that simple.

A lot of people talk about how marriage is just for people who want to raise children. This is a smokescreen. Lots of same-sex couples raise children. Lots of heterosexual couples don't.

Don't destroy peoples' lives and families by trying to ban their marriages. Everyone is entitled to be treated equally under the law.

One last note: I know some people who feel that the government shouldn't be in the business of marriages at all. That's a completely separate issue, Libertarians.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Java.


Anonymous said...

devil's advocate:

technically homosexuals have the same right to marriage as heterosexuals. no one is saying that a homosexual man can't go down to city hall and marry a woman.

think it about it this live in a country that loves chocolate, so the government gives special privileges to people who buys chocolate. people who prefer vanilla can still go buy chocolate and receive all those special privileges. sucks if you like vanilla, but there's no discrimination involved or rights being taken away, since you're still free to buy chocolate.

fwiw, i take the Libertarian position - no government involvement in a personal affair.

Jeremy Manson said...

I'm not entirely convinced of the comparison. Not buying chocolate isn't the same as not being able to make life-or-death decisions when your loved one is in the hospital, or not being considered the legal guardian of your children.

Here is, perhaps, a better analogy? "I live in a country where most people marry people of their own race, so the government gives special privileges to people who marry other people of their own race. People who prefer to marry people of another race can still marry people of the same race. Sucks if you are in love with someone who happens to be of another race, but there's no discrimination or rights being taken away, since you are still free to marry someone of the same race."

Except that we stopped doing that decades ago, because we recognized it was morally wrong.

Anonymous said...

your analogy also works. but the issue of race was decided with the 14th amendment. laws could not read:

a black person can do this...
a white person can do this...

the equal protection clause would likewise prevent laws like:

a man can do this...
a woman can do this..
a homosexual person can do this...
a heterosexual person can do this...

but as written, i don't think the constitution prevents laws about "groupings" of individuals as long as the grouping doesn't violate any other equality protection. that's why it's OK to define marriage as only for 2, and not 3 or 4 or 10.

but hey, what do i know, i'm not a constitutional attorney. just playing devil's advocate. i do think that the "better" approach would be to make these rights more explicit. just as the 14th amendment made racial discrimination patently illegal, we need things to be more explicit here to avoid this back and forth. of course, the best solution is for the government to stay out of this altogether.

Jeremy Manson said...

There is very little in Loving v. Virginia (the anti-anti-miscegenation decision) that cannot be directly applied to same-sex marriage, with the word "race" dropped out, and the words "sexual orientation" dropped in.

From a constitutional perspective, there is such a thing as a "protected class" of person, against whom discrimination is considered more suspect. In CA, homosexuals are in this class. The polygamous / polyandrous / polyamorous are not. This might be considered a factor. Or, it might not.

Having said that, I'm making a moral argument about discrimination, not a Constitutional argument. What applies under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment is not particularly relevant (until this issue comes up before SCOTUS, which is not going to happen next week). Under current law, if they pass Prop 8, gay marriages will be invalid in the state of California.

Kevin Bourrillion said...

"I know lesbians and gays who have been together for decades: through pain, and joy, and hardship, and victory. I've seen the love in their eyes when they were finally able to say those vows to each other and have it mean something in the eyes of society."

And that is exactly what has the religious right so terrified. If society really sees that same-sex couples are regular people like the rest of us, not crazed perverts living on the margins of decency, it reveals to everyone how foolish all their railings against the sins of homosexuality have been.

Proposition 8 is an atrocity.

Unknown said...

California, a land of state-sanctioned sex. I am so sorry for you guys.

Jeremy Manson said...

It's pathetic.

At this point, arguably, we should just ban all marriages, and find a way for our domestic partnerships to be recognized as marriages federally and in other jurisdictions.

burtonator said...

I voted no..... very sad that this wasn't soundly defeated.

Anonymous said...

I am a libertarian as well, and I do believe that it's not government's job to direct a person's business. That includes, also, government not making its business to tell me whether I marry a man or a woman. Government's job is not to "define" marriage. It is to "execute" nad "recognize" marriage between two individuals regardless of their XOR gender or not.