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California’s Proposition 8 on Same-Sex Marriages Essay

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Updated: Mar 6th, 2022

The Proposition 8 regulates marriage relations between same sex couples and prohibits same sex marriages in California. However, in other states, obtaining the right for same sex marriages is only one of a series of the issues that have arisen since much controversy as the U.S. same sex marriages movement rose in the intense political climate of the 1990s. Today, same sex marriage stipulates the citizenship of homosexuals themselves and their rights (Woog, p. 71). Legally denying the rights of homosexuals for committed same-sex relations, as California does by Prop 8, the government tends to turn homosexuals into a peculiar class of second-class citizens. Constitutionally, these men have the same rights as other citizens and should be protected by the state from negative social image and violation of rights. However, the Proposition 8 violates rights and freedoms of homosexual men and women. As marriage is a constitutional right of every person, irrespective of his or her sexual preferences, the law prohibiting this step to any social group is unconstitutional in its essence. Moreover, Prop 8 thus adds to the negative social image of homosexuals, as the society does not accept the non-married couples yet, irrespective of their being hetero- or homosexual. Combined with the initially prejudiced social attitudes towards homosexuals, this fact contributes to the worsening of public perception of the latter.

In case same sex marriage is recognized formally, it will become a matter of individual choice. The most forceful critics for same sex marriage are religious leaders, but in California itself, leaders of many religions have been at the forefront of the pro-marriage campaign. And whereas most progressive national groups have yet to express their support to same sex marriage rights, religious groups have already done much for this. Both Reform branches of Judaism have now formally endorsed same sex marriage; so have many Quaker and Buddhist denominations and many Protestant congregations, Episcopal bishops and high-ranking clerics of many other religions. Sexual liberation is a factor which had a great influence on the national idea during the XX century (Kurtz, p. 1). Some people paid particular attention to the role of sexual relations and sexual freedom in the community and their role in formation of self and universal order. Every commitment – to job, spouse, community, religion – should come from a person’s consciousness. Allowing homosexual men and women to marry will demonstrate the humane nature of our society and manifest the equality of all people in it. And since many have already take efforts to eliminate the ban, the improvements are obviously rather close. The scholars suppose that within two years there will be lawfully married same sex couples in many states across the USA. If this happens, it is hard to overstate its significance for same sex marriage couples, for the civil rights movement, for all people who favor a modern understanding of the definition of family. It would surely mean the solitary victory in the struggle that same sex couples carry out for their rights. This event will also be a milestone showing the time from which same sex couples will be recognized as fully legitimate social units (Kurtz, p. 1).

Politically, the California Supreme Court has also sided against gender discrimination. For example, it ruled that same sex relations are no reason for disqualifying a schoolteacher (an outlook not shared by many parents and school administrations who regard homosexuals as a bad influence, regardless of their qualifications as teachers). “Around 70 per cent of the African-American voters who overwhelmingly backed Mr Obama also approved Proposition 8, helping pass the controversial ballot measure despite a small majority of whites voting against the ban on same-sex unions. Hispanic and Asian voters were split on the issue” (Moore, 2008). Despite the social awareness that homosexuals have rights to respect, justice and everything that heterosexuals take for granted, the homosexual men or women are still discriminated. As Michael Brown, the founder of the same sex Liberation Front, they are members of the most persecuted, harassed minority group in history. Some of this harassment results from the fear of many parents and psychologists that too much attention to the issue might adversely affect the very young whose sexual identities have not yet fully developed. Reinforcing appropriate sexual traits, as suggested earlier, is important for healthy, normal emotional growth. Therefore, tolerant and polite attitudes towards the sexual minorities can help develop the positive public opinion about homosexual men and women and present them the opportunity to marry (Woog, p. 71).

It is important to recognize that much of the negative feeling aimed at homosexuals is grounded in myths and misconceptions, in strong definitions of “normal” and “abnormal,” and in a morality that stretches back to the days when humans first began keeping records (Wilson 34). The practical step to solve this problem is to dismantle these myths, which could allow the society to become more understanding and tolerant. The first one you ought to forget is that male homosexuals are all painted and perfumed “swishy” dancers with feminine voices, and that lesbians are aggressive females who always wear pants and speak in gruff tones. Remember that how people dress and sound, or the sort of work they do, are not always good indicators of what they’re like. Soldiers, professional football players and policemen can be homosexual. So, too, are some very feminine-appearing women. From historical perspective, same sex relations are focused on achieving tolerance from the heterosexual than on getting legal permissions for forbidden relationships (Woog, p. 43).

The opponents of the reform and Proposition 8 suggest that the prohibition of the same sex marriages will violate rights and freedoms of individuals. Homosexual men and women have been recognized since the dawn of history, which should have been enough time for the society to accept them (Smith, p. 92). But that’s not the way it is, and it may well be that society will never take it, no matter how many homosexuals come out, or how many homosexuals rallies and marches are held. It is important to understand that homosexuals do not fit one stereotype, one mold, and that they do not all become homosexuals for the same reasons. They are as different in their attitudes toward sex as any groups of heterosexuals are. Some are promiscuous, and the rate of venereal disease among homosexuals who have numerous sex partners is high. But we cannot ignore the fact that most homosexuals have the same social duties and rights as heterosexuals. The right to marry and create a family is innate to any person and his or her sexual preferences should not deprive them of this right. We should also remember that homosexuality is a usual inner state for some people to the same extent as heterosexuality is for others. Therefore, we should try to understand rather than condemn and deny the homosexual rights in our society (Wilson, p. 45).

The laws prohibiting the same-sex marriages usually have the opposite effect on those who resist their terms, than they were intended to have. People choose to forgo marriage rather than allow the state control over their private and social lives. Homosexuals, i. e. the people pursuing the committed relationships with the representatives of the same sex, are often involved in these protests against state control. The legislatively conditioned denial of the rights of homosexuals to have the officially fixed relations violates their rights and shows once again the extent to which the public attitude and state legislature are prejudiced against this social group (Smith, p. 76). To overcome this issue, the information about homosexuality should be widely accessible for people not to form stereotypes and fear against gays or lesbians. This aspect should also become a part of sexual and family education classes – not to spread homosexuality but to show people that it is not the sin and the society can develop with homosexuals playing important roles in it.

The appearance of the same sex marriage movement coincided in timeframe with Civil Right Movement and can be called a part of it for it pursued the same liberation and equality goals. In early 1990s, homosexuals have challenged the legal restriction of marriage between men, though none of these earlier efforts received serious judicial attention. While the state arguments and solutions raised in Proposition 8 have mixed, the critical commentaries and disapproval to them have caused the public outrage (Woog, p. 72). At the same time, the outburst of the epidemic disease through same sex sexual relations increased public awareness against homosexual marriages. In combination, all these facts resulted in the 1990s fierce demand to legalize gay and lesbian marriages (Smith, p. 54).

Today, there are no legal rights for homosexual men and women in America to marry other representatives of the same sex and receive a marriage license. In general, the right to same sex marriage should be pursued as a political strategy to achieve equality for homosexual men and women. Family is an important social unit and the right to create it for homosexuals would legitimate all same sex partnerships (Proposition 8: Propositions and Cases, 2008). Today, marriage and family are viewed as the basic social units, and the right to marry is one of the fundamental values. Nevertheless, many people believe that legalization of homosexual marriages will adversely impact this institution by diminishing its social importance (Woog, p. 65).

Such an attitude towards homosexual marriage is known as misdirected gender orientation. You probably know it as sexism, or chauvinism, and it is the sort of thing that has led to all of the injustices women have been subjected to, at work and in their social lives. It is also what conditions a man not to show tenderness in public. One of the ways to overcome this stereotyped attitude is reminding boys and girls that they are males and females, similar in feelings and desires and abilities, yet different in significant biological ways and roles. Moreover, the potential for being a mother or a father, the unique nature of the sex hormones, and how much we imitate our fathers and mothers, or are encouraged to do so, all play a major part in making us behave in the ways that are special to our sex (Woog, p. 79).

Modern society does not live in a neuter world, no matter what some hair stylists, clothing designers and other sex-erasers would have us believe. For underneath the jeans and the unisex hair is a man or a woman — although sometimes, as we have said, something goes askew with that sexual identity (Proposition 8: Propositions and Cases, 2008). From the ethical point of view, gay marriages should be recognized but their opponents stress the deficiency of reproductive functions of gay families. Legalizing same sex marriage would sanction, and therefore increase, rearing of children without mothers (Wilson, p. 43).

However, same sex couples seek legalization of their marriages as the latter provides legal protection to their relations and further activities. (Proposition 8: Propositions and Cases, 2008). The same legal protection is one of the reasons due to which heterosexual couples decide to marry legally, but critics suppose that discrimination against same sex couples is most remarkable when such a couple decides to live together and stand against prejudice. In everyday life, same sex activists admit that family is a multifaceted institution that must be understood in its entire multiple and situated meanings before an attack is mounted against it. Woog (p. 22) disagrees with this statement claiming that family is a basic social unit but it is not the means of receiving legal protection and rather a marker of the relations between two people who decided to fix them legally. The Proposition 8 also highlights the point that same sex marriage movement has recently become the opposition to heterosexual marriage supporters for the mere sake of opposition but not for achieving some results. Indeed, many same sex idealists don’t want to join mainstream culture so much as have mainstream culture join them. During the 1980s, the tension between the radical and opposite camps grows around the marriage issue (Woog, p. 63).

The legalization of same sex marriage would mean a great advance for homosexual rights activists in their struggle for equality. The important role in this advance should be played by the civil rights movement activists and ordinary people, whether hetero- or homosexual, who strive for the understanding and respect of certain social groups towards other groups (Wilson, p. 43). In this aspect, the institution of marriage is viewed as basic unit of the society and it is rather significant for the development of the latter. Same sex marriages are not different in their function of family making as they define how individuals care about one another, and formalize contacts with same sex families, neighborhoods, employers, insurers, hospitals, stage institutions. Therefore, what the society should do is help homosexuals socialize and adapt to social institutions (Woog, p. 82).

To sum up, Proposition 8 regulates relations between homosexual men and women but it does not resolve the problem of this social group and rejects their rights and freedoms granted by the US Constitution. The possible solution for this problem is to allow same sex couples to marry and receive license as an official reorganization of their union. It is possible to agree with activists who suppose that same sex marriage is a fundamental challenge to the structure of the modern society. When the state withholds law, it changes the people’s lives in an entirely different way than when it withholds funding. There are practical benefits of same sex marriage: the ability to share insurance and pension benefits, care for our ill partners, automatic inheritance, and protection to our children from desperate custody battles. However, it is rather surprising that the supporters of same sex marriage legalization have not yet presented any practical evidence about the usefulness of this step to the development of the human society as a single whole. In an attempt to fill in this gap, we can propose that the legalization of such marriages will facilitate the equality of social statuses of people, irrespective of their sexual preferences. The same sex marriage movement should become an independent movement aimed to grant same sex couples the right to marry. Therefore, the great public awareness of the issue of same sex marriage can be contrasted to the lack of actual evidence that the supporters of this idea can present in its defense. This is especially important as the supporters of the legalization of same sex marriages should protect their point of view by specific evidence in order to be able to hope for the change of legislation on the whole, and Proposition 8 in particular. Neverthless, it is evident that the same sex marriages should be legalized and same sex couples should have the right to marry because the Constitution is aimed at protecting social and sexual rights of all people and all citizens of the USA.

References

  1. Kurtz, Stanley N. What Is Wrong with Gay Marriage. Commentary, Vol. 110, 2000, p. 1
  2. Moore, M. Barack Obama may have helped California Proposition 8 gay marriage ban pass. Telegraph. 2008.
  3. Proposition 8. Propositions and Cases.
  4. Smith, George P. Family Values and the New Society: Dilemmas of the 21st Century. Praeger Publishers. Westport, CT. Publication Year: 1998.
  5. Wilson, James Q. Against Homosexual Marriage, Commentary, Vol. 10, 1996, p. 34.
  6. Woog. D. Friends & Family: True Stories of Gay America’s Straight Allies. Alyson Publications, 1999.
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