Proposition 8’s victory a loss for California
On the morning of Nov. 5, many of us woke up proud to be Americans but ashamed to be Californians.
That’s not normal for us. Usually, we’re incredibly proud of our ground-breaking, policy-crusading, shucking-the-status-quo home state. But on Nov. 5, the numbers were in, and more than 52 percent of Californians voted to stomp all over gay rights.
Six months ago, California became one of the few states to legalize gay marriage. Residents rejoiced in this newfound equality, and our economy showed a glimmer of hope in anticipation of a much-needed boost from wedding-related sales.
Over the past few months, a war was waged against equality. Commercials shamelessly declared that by eliminating gay rights, Californians would be protecting their children, their churches, and “traditional marriage.” People spoke of the slippery slope of gay marriage becoming inter-species marriage, or incestuous marriage, or polygamy.
Money came in from all over to help endorse Proposition 8, most notably from Mormons in Utah. Though some may blame them for getting involved with another state’s affairs, the truth is, it’s Californians who went to the polls and voted yes on 8.
Some people also blame liberals, who realized early on that Obama was going to sweep the presidential election and decided not to waste their time at the polls on already-guaranteed electoral votes from California.
Maybe they are a little bit at fault for what happened. But really, it’s the people who voted yes on Proposition 8 who should be taking a good, hard look at what they’ve done.
Proposition 8 was not just a proposed law. It’s much more serious than that. It was a state constitutional amendment, which means that it cannot be changed as the result of a lawsuit or petition. The California state legislature would have to go to great lengths to repeal this amendment.
The hideous irony is that on the same day voters took fundamental rights away from consenting adults, they gave more to farm animals. The editorial board endorsed Proposition 2, but we would have rather seen more rights for humans than for chickens and pigs.
Miscommunication about the exact implications of the law lead some to believe that elementary schools would be forcing book reports on “Heather Has Two Mommies,” or that it would be an affront to their fundamental beliefs and would challenge their church’s tax-exempt status.
It’s just not true. Unlike the people who voted yes on 8, thoughtful voters realized that the division of church and state was a long-held ethic in America, and any attempt to revoke a church’s status as a tax-free religious institution would be shot down immediately. And schools can teach whatever they want to about marriage, regardless of the letter of the law. We still learned about slavery and prohibition, even though they were no longer the law.
Voting yes on Proposition 8 didn’t guarantee that teachers would ever mention homosexuality in any capacity ever again. It just took away equal rights.
It should sadden everyone to contemplate how, on a day when America broke a glass ceiling for a long-discriminated minority, we put a cruel, unfair restriction on some of our fellow Californians. Gays and lesbians aren’t some frightening group of activists out to poison religion and families. They are our family members, our friends and our fellow Bruins. California, you’ve ignored the right to equality this country was founded upon and voted yes on hate.
The editorial reflects the opinion of the editorial board of the Daily Bruin at UCLA.