Thursday, September 24, 2009

language for a proposed CA Constitutional amendment

I really wish they would have waited, but here's the language submitted to the California Attorney General by Love, Honor, Cherish, (and a coalition of other groups) seeking to over turn Proposition 8 on the 2010 November ballot.

This amendment would amend an existing section of the California Constitution. Existing language proposed to be deleted is printed in italics type. Language proposed to be added is printed in bold type.

Section 1. To protect religious freedom, no court shall interpret this measure to require any priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, or other person authorized to perform marriages by any religious denomination, church, or other non-profit religious institution to perform any marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. The refusal to perform a marriage under this provision shall not be the basis for lawsuit or liability, and shall not affect the tax-exempt status of any religious denomination, church or other religious institution.
Section 2. To provide for fairness in the government’s issuance of marriage licenses, Section 7.5 of Article I of the California Constitution is hereby amended to read as follows: Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Marriage is between only two persons and shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, creed, ancestry, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

Whether the proposition actually gets on the ballot in November next year depends on the ability to gather the required signatures. The group has plans to start signature gathering in November. They appear to have sufficient financial resources to succeed with that step.

Of course I'll vote for the proposition if it appears on the ballot, but I won't sign a petition to place it there. I don't have the energy, or the time, or the money, to contribute to a political campaign on this issue next year. And like me, I don't think many of the folks who worked on the No on 8 campaign last year are eager to do it again. Marriage equality is important but it's not the only issue competing for my dollars and time. Nor do I think our chances of being successful are much improved from last year. It's more difficult to ask people to change existing law (our task now) than it is to affirm an existing law (our task last year - which we lost). The people who voted Yes on 8 haven't changed their minds since a year ago, and the midst of a political campaign where they receive conflicting sound byte messages is not a great place to persuade them to change their minds. Furthermore, every time people are asked to confirm their opposition to marriage equality (by casting a vote or responding to a poll) it gets that much harder to get them to change their minds in the future.

And finally there's that ballot language itself. Section 1 is obviously designed to counter the argument that conservative churches will be forced to marry same-sex couples. But that argument was never valid in the first place. Does raising the issue, even to deny it, not also give the argument validity? Was this language sufficiently focused-group to make sure it isn't counter-productive? And section 2 is a land mine waiting to explode. Does "persons" include children? If it only means adults why doesn't it say so? Does "sexual orientation" protect pedophiles? Does not discriminating against "ancestry" mean that the State can't forbid a brother and sister to marry?

Please don't let this get on the ballot.

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