Are you willing to amend the Constitution of California for the sole purpose of eliminating a fundamental right for one group of citizens?

I am voting NO on Prop 8 because I am unwilling to do this.  If Prop 8 passes we are setting a dangerous precedent for the revocation of fundamental rights now and in the future for all citizens of this state.  I am compelled to write this not only because I have friends and loved ones who will be directly effected by this current attempt to discriminate, but also because I believe deeply that we are all diminished when we allow bigotry to flourish.

If Prop 8 passes, Californians will be writing discrimination into our state constitution for the first time.  At a time when it's crucial to move forward from the mistakes of the past, the passage of Prop 8 will be a huge step backward.

If you are considering voting yes on Prop 8, then I imagine there are a few reasons (possibly in combination) for this:

1)  Your religious beliefs and/or church does not support the right of gays and lesbians to marry or your personal belief is that homosexuality is wrong/sinful and should not be validated through marriage.

Arguing against someone's religious or personal beliefs is difficult, especially when I don't share them.  However, I come from a sincere and devout religious background, and at one time I did believe, passionately.

I do understand that many of you are tempted to vote yes on Prop 8 because deep down inside you are not ready to accept that gay and lesbian relationships are equal to relationships between men and women, especially if your church or religious doctrine forbids it.  I actually sympathize with you for that, and understand that you might be having a moral struggle on this issue.  My hope is that before going into that voting booth on Tuesday, you understand that civil marriage has NOTHING to do with your own personal religious beliefs.  To use an example, I am married and I am an atheist, but my marriage is no less legally valid than yours, despite the lack of religion.

2)  The California Supreme Court acted wrongly in over-turning Prop 22, which 61% of the voters approved in 2000. 

Briefly, Prop 22 was an initiative statute that specified in the California Family Code that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."  In May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that this statute was unconstitutional, and since June 2008, same-sex couples are allowed to marry in California.

Proponents of Prop 8 argue that the California Supreme Court acted wrongly in "overturning" the will of the people.  However, the truth is that they did their job.  Supreme Court judges are given the task of interpreting and protecting the Constitution, and it is their duty to rule on whether or not a law is unconstitutional.  Just because Prop 22 was passed by a majority vote does not make it constitutional, which the judges' ruling confirmed.

In fact, the California Supreme Court has a history of setting precedents in marriage rights.  In 1948, it recognized marriage as a fundamental right and became the first state court in the country to strike down a law prohibiting interracial marriage.

3)  Prop 8 is not discriminatory because California already has domestic partnerships, which offer the same legal benefits as marriage.

It is true that domestic partnerships offer most of the legal benefits of marriage.  There are, however, certain exceptions, mostly with regard to the creation and dissolution of domestic partnerships and some tax issues.

Domestic partnerships, while at the time being a great step forward in the extension of the fundamental rights of same-sex couples, are now recognized as not equal to marriage.  Because they do not have the same social recognition as marriage, same-sex couples are routinely denied important rights in situations where one partner needs medical attention, or when life-or-death decisions have to made.

Gays and lesbians want the same things as heterosexuals:  marriage, family, and social acceptance.  The deserve equal treatment under the law.

4)  You believe the misleading ads of the Yes on Prop 8 campaign and think that children will be taught about homosexuality in schools.

This is simply not true.  California law prohibits children being forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school.  Whether or not these subjects are taught is up to individual school districts, and parents can "opt out" if they wish.

If parental consent laws are not being followed your school district, then do your part to make sure they are followed.  This is important for any subject matter that parents might find objectionable.

5)  My church might be forced to perform marriages for same-sex couples or lose their tax-exempt status.

The California Supreme Court decision overturning Prop 22 specifically states that “no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.”

Think about it.  In California, medical professionals are legally able to deny treatment, even if it is deemed life-saving, if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.  In this atmosphere, it is highly unlikely that the state will ever force religious officiants to perform marriages they don't agree with.

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I hope this has cleared up any questions you might have about Prop 8 and that you will join me in voting NO on this discriminatory and divisive proposition.

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