“If you’re in the marriage business, do it equally.” This was the powerful statement made by one of the attorneys representing same sex couples last Thursday in San Francisco. This argument, made at a California Supreme Court hearing, nicely sums up one of the essential responsibilities of the government: govern with equality in all that the government is involved.
Quite simply, if the state is going to remain in charge of civil marriages, then it should do so in a manner that is fair and equal to all; similarly to how it’s supposed to act in all other areas regardless of race, gender or religious beliefs.
Many argue that the amendment made to the state constitution by Prop 8 merely restricts the ‘marriage’ label to apply to unions between opposite sexes. But it is utter silliness to attempt to pass the separate but equal term of ‘civil unions,’ as treating same-sex unions with dignity and respect. In reality, this is only granted through equal treatment of all marriages.
Using these types of terms, not only strengthens the discriminatory stigma, but perpetuates the treatment of same-sex unions as belonging to an inferior group. It sends the hateful message that since homosexuals are not currently recognized by the federal government, our state government is being beyond generous in granting these provisions.
This supposed generosity was even referenced by Kenneth Starr, the lead attorney for Protect Marriage, the organization pushing for Prop 8, when he stated that the proposition “does not erode any of the bundle of rights that this state has very generously provided.”
The misleading view that our state government could even be considered progressive in its treatment of same-sex unions, is beyond false and unfair. Denying the label of marriage is a clear attack toward the equal treatment of all people. It places Californians in a pecking order where one group, already given preference by society, becomes literally politically correct, while the other group is cast aside because not only does it go against society, but now also against the state’s preferences.
It is baffling to see a state, known for its laid back and inviting qualities, repeatedly act in such a discriminatory manner. This is our new separate, but equal fight where a group that is viewed as going against the ‘traditional definition of marriage,’ as stated by Starr, is still dealing with the inequality and oppression of being treated on separate terms because of their differences.
In a fight between traditional values versus rights, is maintaining the ‘traditional’ definition of marriage valid when it destroys the vital democratic element of equal rights?
What then should be given more weight when considering the essential values of our state and country?
A woman standing outside the court hearing, channeled the view of many in favor of the ban when she stated that allowing same-sex marriages, “would destroy” her “religion.” People with those and similar views fail to realize that when they attempt to generalize their personal beliefs to the population, all they do is fuel the destruction of another set of people’s rights.