Thursday, January 15, 2009

Who says marriage is labor (union material)?

Apparently Big Labor, a coalition of more than 50 of California's labor unions, is pushing its weight to overturn Prop. 8.

The Contra Costa Times reports:

A coalition of more than 50 labor organizations representing more than two million Californians filed a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday urging the state Supreme Court to overturn the voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The labor groups' brief argues that "any change to the California Constitution that takes away fundamental rights or that divides citizens into suspect classes must be accomplished by a 'revision' of the Constitution, and not the simple 'amendment' employed in Proposition 8."

Can I interject for one moment? From what I've heard (i.e. what my highly-informed news junkie of a father told me), the majority of the brief Jerry Brown filed, while going against Prop. 8, actually counters the argument that Prop. 8 overstepped amendment territory. Brown had no qualms with the Yes on 8'ers methodology - his beef was with the gay-rights issue.

And another interjection: I hate using the term "gay rights." It implies that they're discriminated against as a minority and that we're trying to take rights away from them. Marrying whoever you want is not a right.

And, frankly, you can't classify anti-gay discrimination on the same page as anti-race discrimination, because race is apparent. It's usually fairly obvious if someone is black/Latino/Asian/Native American etc. Homosexuality has more to do with what you do than with who you are, internally and externally. I understand there are inclinations, but again, it's the actions that define the category - it's just not the same as being born into an ethnic group.

But I digress. Back to the news story.

"If a simple majority of voters can take away one fundamental right, it can take away another," the brief states.

"We believe Prop. 8 is improper and it's immoral and it's also legally invalid," Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation AFL-CIO, told reporters Tuesday. "We have an interest not only in defending the rights of our members, but we have an interest in defending the constitution of California."

Agreed UHW-West President Sal Rosselli, "Us defending the right of gay people to marry, us defending this civil right is fundamentally important because ... there's a slippery slope and wealthy bigoted people could organize votes of the electorate to take away other civil rights."

Equality California executive director Geoff Kors said he believes "the leadership of labor in this brief is going to have a tremendous impact." Jenny Pizer, Lambda Legal senior counsel and Marriage Project director, said the brief "is putting a special emphasis on how high the stakes are here for everybody in California."

The California Council of Churches and other faith organizations and leaders will file their own amicus brief Wednesday asking the court to invalidate Proposition 8. Others, including lawyers' groups and 44 state lawmakers, already have written similar pleas; conservative groups have urged the court to let Proposition 8 stand.

The California Supreme Court has set a fast-tracked briefing schedule, which should be completed this month, with oral arguments heard as soon as March.

Okay, for starters - talk about a conspiracy theory! "Wealthy bigoted people"? I would counter that the success of Prop. 8 is largely due to a grassroots campaign, where the legwork was done by people like yours truly who is definitely neither wealthy nor bigoted.

Furthermore, the California people backed up the veracity of feeling behind the campaign with their votes. That demographic would have taken in the rich, the poor and everything in between - and I'm pretty sure that includes the working-class labor types who these unions represent. I think that speaks loudly enough.

Why is it that unions feel compelled to speak out for or against issues that have nothing to do with the scope of their organizations? Not every teacher opposed Prop. 8 - yet their dues went to the California Teacher's Association's sizeable (and, frankly, deceptive) ad campaign.

With labor unions are jumping into the fray, I have to ask, how is marriage labor?

Oh, wait.

Marriage is hard work. And the whole family aspect definitely involves some labor - just not in the AFL-CIO sense of the term.


Katelynn said...

"And another interjection: I hate using the term "gay rights." It implies that they're discriminated against as a minority and that we're trying to take rights away from them. Marrying whoever you want is not a right."

I hadn't realized marriage was a privilege and not a right. Were you forbidden from marrying the one you love?

Christa Jeanne said...

Well, it's not so much a privilege, per se, either, Katelynn - but the fact of the matter is that marriage in the legal sense is a union that fosters the perpetuation of the human race and adds to the greater good of society. There are laws about marrying children, marrying relatives, marrying multiple people. It's not just same-sex couples who are forbidden to wed.

Anonymous said...

That's right, once you remove the social barriers, anything goes. They are there for a reason.

Katelynn, it's not a human right to marry who you want. Sisters and brothers can't marry, cousins can't marry, group marriage is still illegal last I checked...what about the rights of these people if this is really a right? Why should you get to marry who you want and not them?

Watch out, you'll be the next brand of bigot. Just give it ten more years the way things are going.

In the UK, it only took five.