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Marital right is long overdue

Posted: November 1, 2008 3:30 p.m.
Updated: January 3, 2009 5:00 a.m.
 

The question is whether we as a society are going to radically redefine the institution of marriage. It’s not about my personal marriage, but the effects on our children, nation, and future generations.

Proposition 8, in defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman, deprives a segment of the population of a fundamental right, the right to marry.

Domestic partnership, although it offers legal rights and protections, does not offer the dignity or legitimacy of marriage. Celebrating a marriage ceremony legitimized by family and friends is very different from signing a notarized form at City Hall.

Proponents and opponents of Proposition 8 agree that marriage is an essential institution of society. They simply disagree about who should be able to partake of this essential institution.

What is unclear is why the right to marry should not be afforded to all couples, gay or straight. Some argue that it’s tradition. We’ve always done it that way.

But when dealing with civil rights, sometimes the ethical decision is to forgo tradition that has deprived citizens of their rights.

Others argue on religious grounds. They maintain that homosexuality is immoral in the eyes of God.
Aside from this troubling disregard for the separation of church and state, it sounds almost punitive. Gays shouldn’t marry because we don’t approve of homosexuality.

A lot has been written about voting “yes” for the sake of the children. It’s unclear what a “yes” vote will protect them from.

Protect children from knowing that gay people exist and desire to formalize their commitment to one another and to their children? At a time when the divorce rate is 50 percent, which many argue is detrimental for children, it is counterproductive to undermine those who want to legitimize their stable, committed relationships just because they are gay.

The proponents don’t seem to be concerned about the children of gay parents who must watch as their parents are denied the right to marry. They don’t seem to be concerned about gay teens who receive the message that society disregards their commitment to a partner and disdains their desire to some day marry.

Despite all the hoopla about the dangers of a “no” vote on Proposition 8, allowing same-sex marriage will have little effect on the majority of society.

Most same-sex marriages, like most heterosexual marriages, will be celebrated privately, unnoticed by mainstream society. However, upholding the California Supreme Court’s ruling allowing same-sex marriage will maintain a fundamental right for a marginalized group, and it is long overdue.

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