Monday, November 24, 2008

The Gay Community and the State of California

When the CA Supreme Court in May of this year struck down a 2000 ban on same-sex unions there was cheering in the gay community. On the other hand, those who disagreed with the Court simply went to work to put Proposition 8 on the ballot for November. The reaction from the gay community since the amendment passed had been, until only last week, vociferous, violent and intolerant.

Leaving behind any biblical argument against gay relationships and marriages, let’s consider other matters that warrant reflection. Help me with this. Does any group have the right to have the traditional meaning of marriage redefined? For example, if tomorrow three men or three ladies wanted to marry each other, should they be allowed to take the new definition of marriage, sought now by gays, one step further and allow for such marriages to be legalized? Consider this scenario. What if a group of people believed that nothing is wrong with having sex with minors, and enough of them got signatures to place the amendment on a ballot, should not the amendment be allowed so that people could enjoy their understanding of what in their opinion constitutes a marriage? Wouldn’t they be able to cry, “Equal Rights”! I think most of us would have a problem with defining “marriage” along any of the above two lines, even if those involved argued that they loved each other and should have the right to define marriage anyway they chose.

Let’s take this a step further. Taking the two illustrations above, if the traditional definition of marriage is redefined, why would anyone care to prohibit any person or any group their right to enter marriage any way they seem fit? In other words, on what basis would they declare such relationships wrong or not beneficial to society? The redefining of marriage as anything else except between one man and one woman could eventually have the above slippery slope effect on society. No one would have a moral ground upon which to stop a series of re-definitions of what constitutes marriages.

But, some might argue, “Hasn’t marriage been redefined in the past already?” If so, what’s the big deal? Yes, the redefinition of marriage to allow for recognition in the case of slaves and interracial couples did take place years ago. However, these redefinitions of marriage were based on social and ethnic distinctions, not gender. Marriage was still defined to be the union of a man and a woman, whether between slaves or among interracial couples.

If I understand the law, as it stands now in California, gay folks already enjoy legal recognition as “domestic partners” who have “the same rights, protections, and benefits” as married couples do (see California Family Code section 297.5). Why insist on changing the traditional meaning (reference) of a word which the majority of the people in a state wish not to change? Why the hostility and the violence?

At the same we are concerned about the often expressed, as well as reported on, homophobic actions of some, whether religious or not. Many have displayed inappropriate attitudes toward gay people. Those within the Christian community who have demonstrated hateful actions toward the gay community do not reflect the ways of Christ. Everyone is worthy of respect on the basis of having been created in God’s image.

Having said this, it is true that families are concerned about what it would do to parent and child relationships if gay couples do constitute legal marriages. Families of small children in elementary school, for example, are concerned that tolerant education which already exists in CA will be taken to a new level and may leave parents sitting in the dark as it pertains to attempts at re-educating children. Such examples were seen in October with “Coming Out Days” celebrated in elementary schools in the state without the knowledge of some parents, who only found out about the homosexual education through casual after school conversations with their kids.

Some now fear that the amendment will be overturned. Last week the Supreme Court of California said that they will take up the matter of the amendment in March of next year, putting into question the livelihood of the amendment. What implications would such action communicate to our country? Richard Land recently wrote, “If the California Supreme Court were to now attempt to nullify what the people have chosen to do through an expression of their sovereign will, they will have attempted to usurp the sovereignty of government “of the people, by the people and for the people” and to replace it with government “of the judges, by the judges and for the judges” (The Christian Post, Wed., Nov. 19, 2008,

How, then, should the gay community respond? First, those who believe that “marriage” is the union of one man and one woman should not be labeled bigots as if “tolerance” is a one-way street. Their beliefs should be respected. Second, those in the gay community should tolerate the traditional definition of marriage in order to be consistent with their own message of tolerance and should continue to work peacefully to persuade people to think differently. However, once the people have spoken, as they did on Nov. 4, the democratic process should be honored.

Biblically, there are many arguments that can be established for rejecting a homosexual lifestyle. However, individual homosexuals should not be rejected. While many of us believe that the clamor of the gay community is really a plea for special rights, both sides of the issue are free to use the democratic process to advance their own agenda. What we ask of both sides is that the manner of persuasion adopted be peaceful and tolerant of individuals, and follow the chains of democracy our country has in place.


Anonymous said...

Great post.

It's sad, however, that the same people who wish to uphold (1) the sanctity of marriage and therefore (2) the traditional definition of marriage are the very same group of people whose divorce rates are (embarrassingly) high. On the whole, it seems that there is no true sanctity in their very own marriage to legitimize or substantiate their own efforts to uphold (1) & (2). We need to remove the log in our eye by humbly exemplifying the true sanctity of marriage in our own concrete lives, rather than reprimanding others whose speck in their eye is largely the result of our inability to be living examples of "holy matrimony". The question of the "definition" of marriage, while important, only touches the surface of the true problem: Phariseean hypocrisy.

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