We have a long-standing legal principle in the U.S. that says it isn't fair to make laws today and then apply them retroactively. So most experts believe that the marriages that have already been performed would remain legal regardless of what happens with Proposition 8. However, this issue has never been tested. That is because Proposition 8 is the very first time in our nation's history that one group of people has succeeded in putting a measure on the ballot that seeks to eliminate the fundamental marriage rights of another group.
And that's one of the worst things about Proposition 8. It's an effort to start something very dangerous in our country -- something that flies in the face of the very bedrock of our democratic society and of the reasons why we have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights. One group of people is not supposed to be able to vote to take away the fundamental rights of a smaller group of people. To do so is not only wrong, it's un-American.
The Associated Press recently reported that the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wrote a memo directing members of his church to do all that they can to impact the fight in our state. As a result, Mormons have gotten involved in an unprecedented way. They have provided the lion's share of the funding for Proposition 8 -- by one report, as much as 77% -- and have even gone so far as to organize phone banks in Utah to call Californians and push us to vote yes. Of course, the Mormon church has a right to its own beliefs, but it should not try to buy an election and impose those beliefs on the entire state of California.
Fortunately, the voters are seeing through all of this, including many fair-minded Mormons. For example, attorney Morris A. Thurston -- a consultant to the Joseph Smith Papers Project, an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University Law School and an active member of the Latter-day Saints church -- has written eloquently of the lies being told by proponents of Proposition 8 (pdf). He clearly explains why many of the examples you cited Monday are completely untrue or misleading.
Thou shalt not lie, Dean.
I hope voters will make it clear on Nov. 4 that we do not appreciate being misled. The falsehood most often repeated by your side, Dean, is that unless Proposition 8 passes, the schools will be required to teach children about gay marriage. That's simply not true, and you don't have to take my word for it. The California superintendent of public instruction has said so. The Fresno Bee, not a paragon of liberalism, has called your side's claim "a flat lie." The Times and many other papers around the state agree. So does Thurston.
Dean, why can't the Yes on 8 forces be honest and fight fair? Argue your case on the merits, but don't try to deceive voters with misleading statements and lies.
Lorri L. Jean is an attorney and chief executive of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center.
Lorri, I agree with part of the first paragraph of your point today. If Proposition 8 passes, the California Supreme Court will probably not void the same-sex "marriages" that occurred between June 15 and Nov. 4.
However, as John Adams said, "Facts are stubborn things." Like the ACLU attorney I recently debated, you appear to have a serious problem with the truth, Lorri. Your Monday counterpoint made no attempt to refute the specific facts asserted in my piece. Unfortunately, rather than dealing with the truth, you resorted to inappropriate name-calling. The definition of marriage is a critically important issue, Lorri. Californians deserve the truth, not emotional spin mixed with vague notions of equality.
Although the focus of Monday's debate was religious freedom, since you raise the education issue, I will address it head-on. The truth is, according to a study posted on the state Department of Education's website, 96% of California's public school districts voluntarily provide sex-education instruction. Those districts are required to teach respect for "marriage and committed relationships," pursuant to state Education Code Section 51933. If marriage is redefined to include same-sex "marriage," it will certainly be taught in virtually all of our public schools that same-sex "marriage" (mom and mom or dad and dad) is the functional equivalent to traditional marriage (mom and dad). Your repetition of Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell's misleading statements, Lorri, doesn't make them true.
Equal protection does not apply here. Interracial marriage, which I strongly support, is very different from same-sex "marriage." Race is an immutable characteristic. Unless you are Michael Jackson, you can't change the color of your skin. Homosexuality is very different. There is no gay gene. There is no accepted scientific evidence that homosexuality is immutable. This fact was acknowledged by our state Supreme Court in its May marriage opinion. Many African American civil rights leaders are legitimately upset because they believe the homosexual community has improperly hijacked the civil rights movement.
Be honest, Lorri: This so-called fundamental right to same-sex marriage you refer to was actually fabricated by four hyper-activist justices of our state Supreme Court this past May. In so doing, they blatantly violated the legal principle of separation of powers by legislating the homosexual agenda (a new morality?) from the bench, thumbing their noses at 61% of Californians who defined marriage traditionally just eight short years ago. Was that democratic, Lorri? I think not. "We the people" got shafted. Four justices imposed their so-called enlightened viewpoint regarding marriage on California, circumventing the democratic process.
You already have equality, Lorri. As our Supreme Court noted, under California domestic partnership laws, same-sex couples already have all of the legal rights that heterosexual married couples do, just not the name "marriage." Unlike same-sex "marriage," women's suffrage did not change the definition of the word "vote." Title IX didn't change the definition of "sports." Same-sex "marriage," on the other hand, radically redefines the very term "marriage" -- what it means at its very core.
Be honest: You actually do not want equal protection of the laws, Lorri. Equal protection would mean that homosexual individuals have the right to marry persons of the opposite sex -- which has always been their right. You want special protection; that is, you want society to take the huge step of radically redefining the important institution of marriage to include same-sex relationships. I submit that is a very dangerous sociological experiment. All societies throughout recorded history have maintained that marriage actually means something specific; that is, the union of one man and one woman. That is why I am voting yes on Proposition 8.
Dean R. Broyles is president and chief counsel of the Western Center for Law and Policy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of religious freedom, parental rights and other civil liberties.