Californians are in a battle over Proposition 8 on whether or not to add to the California Constitution this clause:

Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Voting “yes” on the proposition adds the language; voting “no” leaves the constitution as is.

I’m always extremely weary of direct citizen-driven changes to state constitutions.   Constitutions shouldn’t reflect torch-and-pitchfork-mob-like citizenry activism.   Instead, they should reflect well-thought-out, well-debated, well-researched, and broadly-supported ideas and statutes.   Using the U.S. Constitution as an example, there was a reason why in 1787 only 55 delegates debated and wrote the Constitution, and there is a reason why it takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-fourths of states to ratify an amendment to the Constitution.   Amending the U.S. Constitution is deliberately hard, as it should be, so as to not reflect immediate, transitory changes people might desire.   Otherwise, we end up with a document that becomes so ever-changing it ceases being a strong, tried, and honorable document and instead becomes weak and diluted.

Proposition 8 in California is a citizen-driven attempt at changing the California Constitution.   Immediately, therefore, I am skeptical of it.   But my skepticism doesn’t cease there.   What else about this proposition that makes me shiver is the thought of enshrining into a state constitution language that legally and directly casts one group of people as a sub-class to another group (California, of course, isn’t the first state to do this, though).

Shouldn’t this fundamentally be a question about civil rights?   Shouldn’t this be a conversation about are we willing to say to one group of people they’re second-class citizens?   That they’re less human than the rest of us?   That they’re less worthy of enjoying the same rights as the rest of us?   Same-sex couples deserve the same basic rights that opposite-sex couples enjoy: the rights to marry, the rights to have a family, the rights to share medical benefits, etc.

Furthermore, for anyone objecting to same-sex marriage on the grounds it will deteriorate the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, please explain to me how a loving gay couple is going to destroy your marriage.   Give me evidence of a same-sex marriage that has damaged your marriage or the marriage of any other heterosexual couple you know.   Can’t do it?   Then stop using this excuse as an excuse to deny rights to others.

As a reason for supporting Proposition 8, the vote yes website cites in 2000 61% of Californians supported Proposition 22 that used the same words Proposition 8 uses, except Proposition 22 didn’t change the California Constitution.   The measure was decided by the California Supreme Court to be unconstitutional:

The state Constitution’s guarantees of personal privacy and autonomy protect “the right of an individual to establish a legally recognized family with the person of one’s choice,” said Chief Justice Ronald George, who wrote the 121-page majority opinion. He said the Constitution “properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples.”

It seems to me that people in opposition to same-sex marriage basic civil rights are going to look as foolish as those in decades ago who opposed civil rights for African-Americans.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.