Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Statement on Proposition 8 by Episcopal bishops in California

Yes, +Lamb signed it, and for those of us in San Diego, +Mathes did, too, unfortunately.

Proposition 8, on the ballot in November, would amend the California Constitution to clarify that marriage is only between one man and one woman. This would reverse the California Supreme Court decision of earlier this year that recognized same-sex marriage. A short history of the definition of marriage in California:

In 1977 the California legislature explicitly defined marriage as a legal tie between a man and a women. The pertinent text is: "Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary." (Family Code Sec. 300.) This status quo position was strengthened in March 2000 when voters passed Proposition 22, an initiative statute which states: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." (Family Code Sec. 308.5.) The vote for the initiative was 61.4% to 38.6%.

Yes, Prop. 22 passed 61% to 39%, yet our overlords know better than we do, so the California Supreme Court earlier this year recognized the "right" of those in same-sex relationships to marry.

And this leads us to this recent statement by the bishops of the Episcopal Church in California (always ready to impress us with their theology and reassure us that they are not being political - okay, sarcasm off) [boldface mine and I've added some editorial comments]:
As Episcopal Bishops of California, we are moved [ed.-by whom? The Holy Spirit? didn't think so] to urge voters to vote "No" on Proposition Eight. Jesus calls us to love rather than hate, to give rather than to receive, to live into hope rather than fear. On Tuesday, November 8th, voters in California will be given the opportunity to vote for or against Proposition Eight, which would amend the state's constitution to reserve marriage as only between a man and a woman. Since the California Supreme Court's ruling in May that civil marriage should be provided to all of the state's citizens whether the genders of the couple are different or the same, faithful gays and lesbians have entered into marriage as the principle way in which they show their love, devotion and life-long commitment to each other. Furthermore, marriage provides these couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexual couples take for granted.

Proposition Eight would reverse the court's decision and withdraw a right given. Proponents of Proposition Eight have suggested that this amendment to the Constitution would protect marriage. We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage. [ed.-What say you, +Beisner?] Rather, the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike [ed.-and what is so magic about the number 2? Can't three people have these same values?]. Society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment.

As bishops, we are not of one mind regarding how our Church's clergy should participate with the State in same-sex marriage. Some of us believe it is appropriate to permit our clergy to officiate at such marriages and pronounce blessings over the union; others of us believe that we should await consent of our General Convention before permitting such actions. Nevertheless, we are adamant that justice demands that same-sex civil marriage continue in our state and advocate voting "No" on Proposition Eight. [ed.-and we have now put the Episcopal Church in California outside of all other Christian faiths - but, hey, we still call ourselves part of the "catholic" church, so it must be true!]

General Convention 2006 in Columbus passed Resolution A095 that said, "Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the Episcopal Church's historical support of gay and lesbian persons as children of God and entitled to full civil rights; and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the 71st General Convention's action calling upon municipal council, state legislatures and the United States Congress to approve measures giving gay and lesbian couples protection[s] such as: bereavement and family leave policies; health benefits; pension benefits; real-estate transfer tax benefits; and commitments to mutual support enjoyed by non-gay married couples and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention oppose any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions."

We believe that continued access to civil marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation [ed.-or number or consanguinity or age, etc., etc.], is consistent with the best principles of our constitutional rights. We believe that this continued access promotes Jesus' ethic of love, giving, and hope.

The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California
The Rt. Rev. Barry L. Beisner, Bishop of Northern California
The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop of El Camino Real
The Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes, Bishop of San Diego

Many believe that Proposition 8 will pass, and same-sex marriage will no longer be legal in California. I am not so sanguine.

Unless and until those in favor of Prop 8 present secular reasons for opposing same-sex marriage, of which there are plenty (here for a start), many voters will feel that they are being "judgmental" or "mean" or "unfair" or "too religious" to, at this point, take away something. Once the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, it enabled those for it to now present Prop. 8 as something removing rights, which a lot of people automatically vote against.

I think there's a lot of work on education and legal ramifications that needs to be done here, or California voters will reject Prop. 8 and same-sex marriage will remain legal - and as California goes, so goes the nation.

1 comment:

JamesW. said...

Anne: I agree with you - I am not confident at all that Prop. 8 will pass. I personally believe that the Cal. Supreme Court's decision was treasonous (in that 7 judges unilaterally amended California's constitution in an illegal manner) but most people are more easily led by the nose into thinking that the right to same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.

I also agree that there are very good non-religious reasons for opposing same-sex marriage, in that SSM is bad for children (in that marriage will now be defined EXCLUSIVELY by the lusts of the spouses, and children will be completely EXCLUDED from the definition of marriage). And the proponents of Prop. 8 need to play these secular reasons up.

I also agree with you that if Prop. 8 fails, within 5 years, most of the "blue" states will have accepted same-sex marriage and the liberals will be working to force SSM onto the "red" states.