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Same-sex marriage (SSM) & domestic partnerships in California

The immediate aftermath of the vote on Prop. 8


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Initial responses to the passage of Prop 8:

When all votes were counted, Prop. 8 passed narrowly: 52.3% for to 47.7% against. A shift of a mere 2% of the vote could have continued SSM as an option for loving, committed same-sex couples.

Chip White, the press secretary for the Yes on 8 campaign, said: "The momentum has really been with us."

Jose Ronni Pahl, with her wife Hannah, were one of the first same-sex couples to be married in Santa Clara County. She said:
"It's bittersweet right now because we just watched the first African-American president elected. We were watching it with our African-America son, there were tears coming out of our eyes, and we went to look at what's happening at 8. We're speechless right now." 1

LifeSiteNews.com, a conservative Roman Catholic news group,  reported:

"After the initiative passed, Episcopalian Bishop Marc Andrus of San Francisco issued a statement affirming that 'those of us committed to civil rights for all [will] continue to work' to promote same-sex marriage."
"Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Diocese of Los Angeles wrote in a November 5 statement, 'I call upon Californians who supported Proposition 8 to make an honest and dedicated effort to learn more about the lives and experiences of lesbian and gay humanity whose constitutional rights are unfairly targeted by this measure'."  2

A rally of gays, lesbians and civil rights advocates was organized in West Los Angeles on the evening NOV-05 after results became available. There was considerable anger among the thousands who gathered. Much of it was directed against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) for their immense financial contributions to promote Prop 8 and thus terminate marriage equality in the state.

According to AFP,

"Angry crowds thronged the streets in central West Hollywood, the heart of Los Angeles' gay community, chanting slogans and waving signs. 'Stop the hate in 2008!' went one chant. 'Keep religion out of my Constitution!' was another. Protestor Jason Louis wrote the words 'I am a victim of H-8' (H for Hate) on his bare chest. ... 'I feel anger, I feel frustration. I just got married last Sunday, we did it two days before the Election Day because I knew that Yes on Prop 8 it could win. Now we don't know what is going to happen, but for sure it will be a long, long legal battle'." 3

The Family Research Council (FRC), a fundamentalist Christian advocacy group, commented:

"At LDS headquarters in Utah, leaders called for a ceasefire with gay activists and 'goodwill' on both sides. Unfortunately, that message has yet to stick with the 'No on 8' crowd, which has lashed out with unprecedented aggression against the faith community.'

The FRC did not mention that there are many non-gays who are also concerned about the termination of equal civil rights for all. They also did not mention that "aggression" was essentially all verbal by thousands of protestors, with the exception of one act of graffiti, some vehicle vandalism and two assaults. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on one incident where a protester, Maurice Carriere, ripped a portion of a "Yes on Prop. 8" sign from a pickup truck. The driver of the truck punched Carriere, causing him to fall to the ground.


Did the vote on Prop 8 represent the true feelings of Californians?

Some commentators attribute the win on Prop 8 to fear tactics used by its promoters. The Mormon Church, the Roman Catholic Church and other contributors invested a total of over 30 million dollars in advertising campaigns. They ran TV ads claiming that if SSM were allowed to continue, churches that refused to marry same-sex couples would lose their tax exempt status and students in grade 3 would be taught about SSM.

Some commentators noted that the vote probably did not represent the true wishes of Californians:

  • Unusually large numbers of African-American adults turned out to vote because of the candidacy of Barack Obama. African Americans have greater opposition to SSM than average -- they voted about 70% in favor of Prop 8.
  • Counteracting this effect, first time voters voted against Prop 8 by a 62 to 38% margin.

Boycott proposals:

Some civil rights Internet bloggers and others are promoting a boycott of Utah's tourism industry, including the Sundance Film Festival. Some are calling on the federal government to end the tax exempt status of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the Mormon Church.

Gay rights promoter John Aravosis, an influential blogger from Washington DC, wrote:

"At a fundamental level, the Utah Mormons crossed the line on this one. They just took marriage away from 20,000 couples and made their children bastards,. You don't do that and get away with it. ... There's a movement afoot and large donors are involved who are very interested in organizing a campaign, because I do not believe in frivolous boycott. The main focus is going to be going after the Utah brand. At this point, honestly, we're going to destroy the Utah brand. It is a hate state."

There are some factual errors in his statement:

  •  In reality, there are 18,000 same-sex married couples in California, not 20,000. It is not yet clear whether their marriages are still registered. Prop 8 did not include a retroactive clause that would have forcibly divorced these couples. Most constitutional experts believe that the couples will remain married and their children will remain legitimate.
  • It is not valid to characterize Utah as a hate state, even if one regards the Mormon Church's attitude towards marriage equality as a form of hatred of gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Only 57% of the adult population of Utah are Mormons. 4

Aravosis, has helped organize boycotts against "Dr. Laura" Schlessinger's television show, Microsoft and Ford over gay rights issues.

A past boycott during the 1970s over the church's institutionalized racism resulted in pressure on the Mormon Church from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and sports groups, as well as boycotts of church businesses and Utah tourism. The church reversed it racist policy and started to ordain non-white men after they received what they believe to have been a new revelation from God during 1978-JUN.


More reactions:

Kim Farah, spokesperson for the Mormon Church issued a statement about the temple protests Friday [2008-NOV-07] saying that it is "disturbing" that the church is being singled out for exercising its right to speak up in a free election. The statement said, in part:

"While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process."

The church had said in a statement after Tuesday's vote that:

"... no one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information."

In their reporting on Prop. 8, most conservative Christian news sources continue to refer to marriage in quotation marks when their articles involve same-sex marriage. This is done to denigrate same-sex marriage and imply that it does not have the same status as opposite-sex marriage. LifeSiteNews is now using the term "true marriage" to refer to a legal system that preserves marital inequality by permitting only opposite-sex couples to marry. 2

Equality California stated on their website:

"Tuesday's vote was deeply disappointing to all who believe in equal treatment under the law.
All Americans are harmed when any of us are discriminated against or have our fundamental rights taken away."

"Make no mistake, this fight is not over. We remain committed to ensuring full equality under the law, just as the thousands of same-sex couples who joyously married in California are committed to each other."

"While it is understandable to be angry that a deceptive campaign could lead to such an unfair and wrong outcome, we need to keep focused instead on the progress we have made. Thousands of volunteers and contributors gave selflessly to this fight for equality. Political leaders—Democrats and Republicans alike–took strong stands and spoke out against the distortions against us. Clergy, labor, educators and business leaders eagerly joined our cause. And we came within 4% of making history and protecting marriage equality in California. The momentum is clearly on our side."

"So, as disappointed as we are, we know that there is still hope and there is still love and, yes, there is still work to do. With our continued effort and by building on the support generated in this campaign, we will prevail. There will be equality. For us all." 5


A bit of humor:

Sometimes humor is the most effective mechanism by which to convey a viewpoint and change minds. Lloyd Garver has a text and podcast blog called "What would Lloyd say?" On NOV-11, he wrote a blog entry about "... an emotional issue that has divided the nation."

Lloyd wrote, in part:

"The other day, Connecticut became the second state to make the practice legal. After that happened, I interviewed Frank Wilson, the head of the Campaign For The Preservation of Keeping American Families The Way We Like Them. When I talked to him, he was a bit upset because he thought that his proposal should have been on all of the ballots across the country in the recent election. He calls his proposal Proposition 8A and it deals, of course, with the controversial issue of making it illegal for 'anything other than the traditional lawn to be legally called a lawn'."

Wilson firmly believes that all families should enjoy equal rights to sunshine and water for their lawns. But a lawn must be made only of American grass. He said that a traditional lawn is:

"... not a place where people admire a rock formation or listen to a waterfall. If two consenting adults want those kinds of things, they should put them in the privacy of their backyard. We don't want our children being taught about non-traditional lawns that belong to a small, but loud minority."

Well worth reading. See: the blog entry for 2008-NOV-11 at: http://lloydgarver.com/


References used:

 The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Mike Swift, "Prop 8 appears headed for victory," Mercury News, 2008-BIV-04, at: http://www.mercurynews.com
  2. "Prop. 8 Protesters Besiege LA Mormon Temple, Press Forward on Legal Challenges: InvalidateProp8.org calls for donations to fight true marriage," LifeSiteNews.com mailing, 2008-NOV-07.
  3. "Thousands protest after California bans gay marriage ," AFP, 2008-NOV-06, at: http://afp.google.com/
  4. Barry Kosmin, et al,. "American Religious Identification Survey 2001," City University of New York, 2001, at: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/ This is a PDF file.
  5. "We will not give up," Equality California PACs," at: http://www.eqcapac.org/

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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update and review: 2008-NOV-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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