California’s Proposition 8 | Reasoning Through the Rhetoric of Same-Sex Marriage

Posted on December 12, 2008


I received an email from a family member from the Courage Campaign to repeal proposition 8. There’s also a new post at Out of Ur entitled “A Win-Win on Same-Sex Marriage.”

By now, everyone is well aware of the emotional and contentious nature of same-sex marriage (SSM) and there are thousands of posts/links regarding the aberrant behavior and attitudes on all sides of the issue. Here’s a sample: are the primary progenitors of the ballot initiative. They have posted this fairly well done YouTube video.
The Mormon Church being under investigation for providing non-monetary contributions to the campaign.
Newsweek’s Cover Story, “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage,” is entitled “Our Mutual Joy” at the website.

For context’s sake, I have a sibling who is openly bisexual, and even texted me to vote “no” on Proposition 8, stating that “it would mean a lot to me and my friends,” and several students that I work with are actively struggling with sexual identity. For me personally this was a challenging proposition on which to decide how to vote.

Below is the text of the Courage Campaign website’s movement, and a few points of reason that I believe are necessary for the discussion.

Repeal Prop 8: Restore marriage equality to California
Sign the pledge to build the Marriage Equality Movement

The birth of a new Marriage Equality Movement — the civil rights movement of the 21st Century — is unfolding before our eyes. Organized from the bottom-up by thousands of ordinary people just like you, this people-powered phenomenon is exponentially growing by the minute, online and offline.

This is our moment to stand strong together — gay and straight — and say that we refuse to accept a California where discrimination is enshrined in our state constitution.

Please join over 200,000 people in signing the pledge to repeal Prop 8, launched by the Courage Campaign and joined by CREDO Mobile and Then forward this link to your friends:

We, the undersigned, are united in our refusal to accept a California where discrimination is enshrined in our state’s constitution.

We pledge to repeal Prop 8 and restore marriage equality to California.



I am fully supportive of equal rights. Our country despises, (and rightfully so) discrimination, preferential treatment, prejudice and bigotry. However, we must not confuse equal rights with the term “equality,” the double-edged term used by proponents of SSM that calls for an indignation against injustice. There are limits (and boundaries) on virtually all “civil rights” and “priveleges” in this country. We have clear distinctions on who can become a citizen, how old you have to be to have a driver’s license, if you can or cannot serve in the military (or opt out), if one can serve as a public officer. Even with “free speech,” I can’t falsely yell, “fire” in a crowded public space, or spew “hate speech.” In my right to bear arms, I cannot have it “concealed,” even though some in our country can. And, yes, there are limits on marriage as well (polygamy, incest, age, etc.) This is just a sampling to say that equal rights is different from what many are calling “equality.” Proponents of SSM miss this understanding stand on shaky ground. Suggesting that defining marriage between one man and one woman is “legalizing discrimination” is wrong. This is not a human rights issue. This is a clarification and definition of the boundaries and limits of the existing civil rights that already exist.

(This is substantiated by California’s Family Code 297.5, which already gave the same rights to domestic partners as to married couples.)


How and when did the state get so much power and influence over a religious sacrament? The separation of church and state exists to ensure that the government does not impose its influence on religious issues. When I marry a couple, the phrase, “the power invested in me by the state of California…” is part of the script. This ought to change, and marriage ought to be defined, not by a constitutional amendment, but by the religious institution who ordains it.


Bob mentioned this in his Out of Ur post, and I’m thankful that others are trying to express the same sentiments. The arguments for marriage between one man and one woman is NOT the same as wishing that homosexuals were wiped from the face of the planet, or that they were locked up in a room somewhere to cease to exist. Labeling those who argue for “traditional marriage” (as it is called) as “hate,” diminishes their (the opponents’) arguments, is merely ad hominem, turns the issue ugly, and dismisses the well-thought arguments and carefully communicated convictions.


Many churches made this issue a “pulpit” issue. Those who did, missed the value of greater and lesser commandments in the Scriptures, and ultimately did damage to the church and the Church’s ultimate mission in the world. Those who positioned themselves publicly to support Proposition 8 forgot to carefully listen and love the LGBT (Lesbian, Bay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) communities, ultimately alienating them from the faith-community that ought to open their arms wide to feel what they feel, and to hear their challenges and struggles; in other words, to minster (serve) and love them. Supporting Prop 8 so publicly is a violation of the “Great Commandment,” that exhorts us to ensure that the love of God and love of neighbor (which Jesus makes equal) surpasses all other commandments. To elevate this above a platform of welcoming care and kindness is, shall we say, sin. May more churches, (and Christians), realize the error of their ways, and speak louder about their (and God’s) affections more than their oppositions.


Having a constitutional amendment does nothing to affirm Biblical marriage, as if an amendment was needed. First, Biblical marriage could be an “iffy” issue when one reads the whole of Scripture (more on that in the next post). Second, the amendment simply exposes the divide in our country, the real political nature of religious institutions, and the religious for their values. Have we not thought that there might have been other Biblical values on the ballot? Why did we ignore those, and only support and loudly voice our opinions on this one?