Monday, November 3, 2008

Conversation with a "No on 8er"

I have a friend that I've known since high school. His sister is a lesbian and he feels very strongly about defeating Prop 8. We have been emailing back and forth and his most recent email basically said that homosexuals have made tons of progress in the past 30 years and that science has now proven that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality.

He went on to say that those of use in favor of Prop 8 are like Leonardo DiCaprio shouting "I am the King of the World!" from the deck of the Titanic. He thinks that he and his children will live to see a better world in spite of our efforts in support of Prop 8.

The exchanges have been cordial and respectful, and I thought that I would post my response to his arguments which I've summarized above:

[Dear Friend]--

One of the tragedies of the Prop 8 issue is the fact that people who support traditional marriage are put on the defensive and made to feel as if they are intolerant or bigoted. Tolerance is a two-way street. Just as those who are against Proposition 8 demand tolerance, they must also be tolerant of those who feel that traditional marriage should be supported and protected. I appreciate that your response did not seem to attempt to put me on the defensive or claim that I was bigoted in any way. I certainly do not think that I am, and I hope that you agree. I believe that we are all children of the same Heavenly Father and that we are all entitled to respect, love, and happiness.

Though we may not agree on this issue, I wanted to take a second to share a few additional thoughts with you that I had after reading your reply.

First, you eloquently expound about the changing views of society on homosexuality. I agree that attitudes have changed and that our society is more accepting of homosexuals than it was 30 years ago. If same sex marriage is a right that our society wants to extend to its members, the proper way to do so is by a vote of the people. Not by having four unaccountable judges foist it upon the people. That is how our society has chosen to operate.

Second, there is a real distinction between same sex marriage and laws against miscegenation. They are not the same. Race and gender are immutable characteristics. No one can change his or her race or gender and a person’s race or gender are (generally) obvious. We have enacted laws to protect people from being discriminated against on the basis of one’s race or gender.

Sexual preference, whether one is “born with it” or not, is not patently obvious and is expressed not by one’s appearance, but by one’s conduct. I can not tell whether someone is heterosexual or homosexual just by looking at someone and I am pretty sure that no one else can either unless they are relying on stereotypes--which are themselves wrong.

I would not be so quick to diminish someone's religious views on this topic. I do not know your views on religion, but the fact that someone is religious or perhaps atheist does not make their opinions any less valid. And it certainly does not make those views inferior to those that claim to be based on "science." The funny thing about science is that very often it is based not on facts, but on theories. Theories change and are also subject to societal pressures. I have seen very, if any, little scientific research on homosexuality and its effects that constitutes "fact" as opposed to "theory." I worry that much would even fall into the category of "advocacy."

Speaking of research, we do not know what the effects of re-defining the family or traditional marriage will be. You yourself cite the change of attitudes over the past 30 years, but that is certainly not enough time to see how children will be affected or to see what the macro effects on our society will be. I fear that if marriage can be defined to mean whatever someone wants it to mean, its value as a societal institution will be diminished and people will be less inclined to enter into a legally binding marriage. Yes, children will still be born, but they will be without a mother and a father who are legally bound to them. That will cause very real negative effects for our society.

Finally, I wanted to address your comment about children being educated about homosexuality and same sex marriage in schools. Parents in California would not be able to "opt out" of the curriculum in all cases. I personally want to be able to teach my children sexual education topics at home, at the proper time. I think that parents ought to be able to have that right and that the government should not be allowed to invade our homes to force that type of instruction on families. The choice ought to belong to parents--not to teachers, teacher's unions, or social activists.

Again, thank you for your reponse, and I welcome the opportunity to continue our conversation if you want.




sweat, tears, or the sea: prop 8 edition said...

thank you so much everyone involved with this website. it has been so wonderful to discuss this topic with you.

even though i'm not in california, i'd stand on a street corner with my yes on prop 8 with anyone one of you.

Christa Jeanne said...

Well, thanks! Right back at you! I'm impressed by all of your work on this, especially considering you're not in California. Way to be! Keep it up!!!

Anonymous said...

You may not be able to see if a person is gay or straight, but without prompting they feel attracted to someone of the same sex, just like your body responds to someone beautiful unbidden of the opposite sex.

FS Carrie said...

Um, these are not arguments.

First of all, why is whether you can "see someone's" sexual orientation a criteria for whether you should mandate who they can marry?

Second, your argument that we should be able to vote marriage inequality into the constitution would have kept slavery in the US, interracial marriage outlawed, and racial segregation in schools. The majority can be wrong. Democracy doesn't ONLY respect the rights of the majority, but also protects the rights of the minority.