Jewish Journal

Justices to uphold Prop. 8?

by Brad A. Greenberg

March 6, 2009 | 1:14 pm

Surprising headline from the San Francisco Chronicle: “Justices seem to be leaning in favor of Prop. 8.”

I don’t find it surprising because I thought Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that amended the the state constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman. Legal challenges were inevitable, but Prop. 8’s constitutional defeat was not. I’m just surprised the Chronicle’s already started the 10 count.

Here’s the story:

“There have been initiatives that have taken away rights from minorities by majority vote” and have been upheld by the courts, said Chief Justice Ronald George. “Isn’t that the system we have to live with?”

George wrote the majority opinion in the court’s 4-3 ruling in May striking down California’s ban on same-sex marriages - which voters, in turn, reversed in November by approving Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

Another member of last year’s majority, Justice Joyce Kennard, said the challenge to Prop. 8 brought by advocates of same-sex marriage involved “a completely different issue” from the court’s ruling that the marriage laws violated gays’ and lesbians’ rights to be treated equally and wed the partner of their choice.

“Here we are dealing with the power of the people, the inalienable right, to amend the Constitution,” Kennard said. Speaking to a lawyer for same-sex couples, she said those who want to overturn the voters’ decision “have the right to go to the people and present an initiative.”

There were some indications of divisions among the justices on the validity of Prop. 8 during the hearing, which lasted more than three hours at the court’s San Francisco headquarters. But on a separate issue, all seven appeared to agree that the 18,000 same-sex couples who married before Prop. 8 passed would remain legally wed.

The Los Angeles Times says more of the same. Something that’s different and worth reading is this article that Mollie Ziegler Hemingway wrote for Christianity Today before Thursday’s California Supreme Court hearing. Here’s the lede:

Obnoxious mobs that won’t tolerate disagreement don’t usually win supporters.

A manager at a Los Angeles Mexican restaurant was targeted for her $100 contribution in support of traditional marriage. Protesters hounded her out of her job, and did the same to a Sacramento theater director and the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival. Churches and Mormon temples were vandalized. The mainstream media ran an all-out public relations campaign in support of same-sex marriage. Hollywood quickly put together “Prop. 8: The Musical,” an Internet video that mocked Jesus, the Bible, and Christians.

“Want to cause a nice long backlash to gay rights? That’s the way to do it,” said lesbian social critic Camille Paglia.

Obnoxious, bigoted mobs that won’t tolerate any disagreement don’t usually win supporters. Or, as the usually insufferable Objectivist Ayn Rand said, “Argument from intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.” Of course, if the media are to be believed, same-sex marriage is a done deal. “Same-sex marriage is inevitable. It just takes time,” a Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist wrote.

The conventional wisdom is that traditional marriage is a demographically lost cause. Younger voters are more likely to support same-sex marriage than older voters, we’re repeatedly reminded. Indeed, 61 percent of voters over 65 supported Prop. 8, while 61 percent of people under 30 voted against it.

But if history and demographics are on the side of same-sex marriage, one wonders why journalists, Hollywood executives, and gay activists didn’t just sit tight and wait. Why voluntarily sabotage their cause with a coordinated campaign of bigoted, violent, and hateful reactions to recent public votes on the matter?

Despite the story pushed by the mainstream media, the only statistics that really matter are at the ballot box. And marriage supporters have been victorious in each of the 33 states that have put the issue up for vote. The only significant success the same-sex marriage crowd has had has been achieved by judicial fiat. In California, a never-before-assembled coalition of evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons raised $40 million and generated hundreds of thousands of volunteers.

“In spite of repeated efforts by gay activists and mainstream media types to portray this as an issue nobody but the gay-rights people really care about, the Prop. 8 victory itself demonstrates the marriage issue is drawing new attention,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

And just because younger voters support same-sex marriage now doesn’t mean their attitudes won’t change. As people age, they tend to get married, have children, and worship more regularly—all of which weigh heavily in voting decisions.

The violent mobs and sneering media confirm one of the arguments made by traditional marriage proponents: Same-sex marriage and religious freedom are on a collision course.

That collision course came up when I voted no on Prop. 8. I still would prefer to not see government in the business of marriage, but I also don’t think government should force religious folks in non-emergency professions to perform services they believe God abhors.

In her article, Mollie notes a few of these cases:

A lesbian couple in Albuquerque successfully sued a Christian photographer because she declined to shoot their commitment ceremony. When Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, Catholic organizations had no option but to shut down their adoption services.

The California Supreme Court ruled that doctors must provide reproductive services to lesbians despite religious objections. A Methodist camp in New Jersey lost its tax exemption after it told a lesbian couple they could have their commitment ceremony anywhere except in buildings that are used for religious services. The list goes on.

There is a difference between preaching tolerance and legally mandating acceptance.

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