Between all of the information presented from both proponents and opponents of proposition 8, it is easy to fall prey to a focus on the tangents of the issue rather than the core. As the final days before the election pass, I feel that it is necessary to return to the core issue concerning the definition of marriage. While side issues may prove interesting, it is the core of the matter which matters most.
There have been many comments left upon my blog by individuals who are both pro and anti proposition 8. I appreciate each of you taking the time to leave comments, and I have left all of them on my blog for all to read. There have been individuals who have made astute observations for both sides of the issue. There have also been individuals who have made comments that are inflammatory for both sides of the issue. I should like to respond in a respectful manner, recognizing that people are entitled to their opinions and that while our opinions may differ, we may be civil to one another. At the end of the day, we are all Americans, we are all human beings, and we are all children of God. I hope that each of you will take the time to read through the entire argument that I am about to present. You are free to comment and I will be sure to read and consider your arguments. What I do ask is that each person who reads this entry, will do so with an open mind and an open heart, simply considering the perspective from which I am coming, making an attempt to understand my perspective, just as I will attempt to understand others perspectives in return.
Let me preface my remarks with this one fact: I do not support nor harbor any ill-will toward anyone who happens to be gay or lesbian. I am religious and sincerely believe that every human being is a son or daughter of a loving Heavenly Father who cares for each of his children, whether they be gay or straight. I am not homophobic and I do not live in an isolated bubble of conservative values. I am acquainted with many individuals who happen to be gay or lesbian. I have been camping with and slept in the same tent as an acquaintance who happens to be gay--believe me, I do not fear such people and I do not treat them differently. That having been said, I am in support of a "YES" vote on proposition 8, and I honestly feel that it does not make me intolerant, bigoted, hateful, homophobic, anti-gay, or any other derogatory term that some have labeled me. Nor do I believe that voting "Yes" on proposition 8 denies anyone of any basic human rights. Allow me to explain.
To come to an understanding from both sides of the issue, we must first and foremost explore what constitutes the institution of marriage. A simple appeal to the dictionary states: "Marriage (n): the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife." This has been the basic definition of marriage for thousands of years, recognized by billions of people, and extending through a multiplicity of cultures. Marriage, traditionally, has been a religious ceremony, which has been extended into civil practice. Many view the institution of marriage as a sacred covenant between a man and a woman, in connection to God. ". . .Marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God and the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of his children" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). The primary purpose of a traditional marriage in a Judeo-Christian society is to promote chastity (according to the laws of God), promote procreation between a man and a woman (the perpetuation of the species), provide the optimal environment for child-rearing, create a stable financial environment for an individual who may choose to stay home in order to rear children, to teach and promote the time-honored and tested values that promote one's greatest chances for success and happiness, and for a man and woman to enter into a covenant with one another to love, support, and cherish one another, whereby they may work together in the process of perfecting one another in the pursuit to become like one's Heavenly Parents. Obviously, this is not what everyone thinks of marriage, but it is certainly the roots of its institution. Knowing this, we may begin to understand why some feel that the institution of marriage is under attack.
Nobody denies that there are inherent qualities that are unique to both men and women. There is much that the sexes have in common, but there are also many differences. The optimal care of children, the ideal, the standard, as is proclaimed both by God and nature is for a child to have both a mother and father. David A. Bednar states, "[Gender] in large measure defines who we are, why we are here upon the earth, and what we are to do and become. For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary. . ." (Ensign Magazine, October 2008, 67). While there is much good that a same-sex couple may bring to a child's life, there are innate qualities that are complimented by two parents of the opposite sex that cannot be duplicated from a same-sex couple. Every child deserves to be reared in such an environment. It is the optimal environment and will afford the child the best chance for happiness and success. Some would argue that there are families with single parents--the tragedy that comes with the death of a parent, divorce, out of wedlock births, and etc. We sympathize with such, and many single parents are doing a remarkable job with the circumstances that they have been given. But just because single parents exist, does not make single parenthood the standard nor the ideal. It would be ludicrous for us to promote single parenthood to children. Can you imagine: "Sally, when you grow up you should strive to be a single mom." That is not to say that we are degrading single mothers or single fathers. We appreciate the work that they do. But it is not the standard--it is not the goal. We should promote the institution that will best accommodate the needs of children. That institution is marriage between a man and a woman. Likewise, it is ill-advised to promote same-sex marriage. This creates a new standard for which individuals may strive--a standard that is not the optimal.
Some claim that by denying marriage for same-sex couples we are denying one of their basic human rights. This is an interesting argument and I can understand why they would think this way. On the surface it has the appearance that human rights are being violated, but the reality is to the contrary. In a comment to one of my blogs, Merrie stated: "Is Proposition 8 a human rights argument or a legal rights argument? Let's look at the differentiating characteristics between the two.
1) Human rights are considered to be of a purely moral or ethical character, which hold that we obtain certain rights from nature that cannot be legitimately modified by any legislative authority.
2) Legal rights are considered to be of an artificial, man-made character, which are arbitrary human constructs, created by legislative authority and always subject to change.
Proponents of Proposition 8 assert that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and therefore is a divine or natural right. Opponents of Proposition 8 assert that marriage is a man-made concept and therefore subject to legislative change.
This leads us to [the] essence of the argument: should human/natural rights take precedence over legal rights? In the case of Proposition 8 the answer is an unequivocal yes." If one is still not convinced that same-sex marriage is a legal right rather than a human right, then we must consider this question: is it a human right for a child to be reared by both a mother and a father? I proclaim that it is. Just as one would say that human rights are being violated by disallowing same-sex marriages, another may say that human rights are being violated by denying a child of a mother and a father. After all, same-sex marriage is man made while child-bearing is natural and requires both a male and female. Whose rights then trump the other? If there are two rights that seem conflicting in nature we must side with the rights of a child over the rights of an adult. The child is still developing and needs the protection of the law, whereas an adult, relatively speaking, can cope with the situation without any adverse effect.
Furthermore, marriage is an institution. Like all institutions there are requirements that are associated with the institution. For example, a university is an institution. Not everyone may obtain a degree simply at the wanting of one. Each individual must follow the rules, procedures, and requirements to obtain the desired degree. Some choose not to pursue a degree while others may not have the natural ability to obtain a degree, yet we do not say that universities are denying human rights to those who do not participate. Only those who have followed the requirements of the institution are permitted to dress in the ceremonial gowns and participate in the graduation, having their degree conferred upon them. Universities do not lower their standard in order to be inclusive. Rather, they strive for the optimal performance of those who choose to participate. we do not call them intolerant, bigoted, prejudiced or the likes simply because there are those who do not have the ability to participate. Marriage, likewise, has its own requirements. These requirements are not meant to be prejudiced or mean-spirited any more than a university or any other institution's requirements are designed. They are in place in order to create the optimal environment for a child's upbringing, to foster love in a traditional family relationship, and to promote the design and function that God has deemed essential to the destiny of humanity throughout the eternities. There are those who may not like for what this institution stands. But that is no reason to change the fundamentals of the institution.
An individual's rights are not impeded by disallowing same-sex marriage. As Jennette has pointed out on her blog: "Registered domestic partners share the same legal rights, protections, and benefits as married couples under the California Family Code Section 297.5." This is already in place for same-sex couples. Why then must we redefine marriage? All rights and privileges have been extended to same-sex couples and they have equal protection under the law. Hence, there is no need to fundamentally change the institution of marriage. There is no need for redefining marriage. After all, what purpose does the redefining of marriage serve?
Lastly, think on this argument. Let us turn the table to see this issue through another lens. There are many institutions and causes that exist throughout the world. Some good and some bad. Let's take one that many feel is a just cause--a free Tibet. While many may work to bring about human rights in Tibet and allow its people its own autonomy, it is not the same as the movement to promote gay and lesbian rights. Now imagine if those people promoting a free Tibet, having generally the same motivation in promoting human rights, decided to demand that their movement be titled "gay and lesbian rights" and to use the existing symbols and platforms of the gay rights movement. This would fundamentally change what it means to promote gay and lesbian rights. It would change the focus from one group, who has established their ideals and what they choose to promote, to a new set of ideals. Those promoting a free Tibet might claim, "you can still promote your values while we promote our own," but the effectiveness of the message would be lost, drowned out by a new philosophy or movement. So it is with marriage. By redefining marriage, the message of marriage is lost, the sanctity is lost, the foundation is lost, and hence marriage is truly under attack.
Keep in mind, this is just one perspective on marriage, and obviously one that is rooted in religion. There are others who promote "YES ON PROPOSITION 8" for other reasons, many of which are not religious at all. The point is this, everyone must research the issue carefully, looking at all angles, and vote according to both knowledge and conscience. Whether that is a "Yes" or a "No" is up to the individual. My humble plea is that we do not change the traditional meaning of marriage. I truly believe that it is ordained of God to be between a man and a woman and anything other mocks marriage and by extension mocks God. While I understand the opposition's argument that we should not impose our beliefs upon another, I do not see how their promotion of same-sex marriage is anything different than imposing their own beliefs upon another in return. This is truly an issue of morals, values, and ideals, and each of us must figure out where we stand.
*In my next blog I shall address a comment left on one of my blogs asking how same-sex marriage will fundamentally change society.