Sexuality and Gender

Three-Judge Panel Strikes Down Prop 8

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Author Amy K. Hall Published on 02/07/2012

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has just struck down California's Prop 8—an amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as one man and one woman. From the ruling:

Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted….

All that Proposition 8 accomplished was to take away from same-sex couples the right to be granted marriage licenses and thus legally to use the designation of ‘marriage,’ which symbolizes state legitimization and societal recognition of their committed relationships. Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for “laws of this sort.”

Hopefully, I need not say here that our opposition to same-sex marriage is not intended to lessen the dignity of any individual human being. We are all created in God's image and have equal intrinsic value. However, while nobody denies that same-sex couples do love each other just as any heterosexual couple does, there are relevant differences in the relationships that justify privileging heterosexual couples in a way same-sex couples aren't. This should in no way be taken to mean that a homosexual is less valuable as a human being. It's the innate differences between male and female, not homosexual and heterosexual, that are behind the arguments for bringing opposite sexes together through traditional marriage.

This subject obviously involves a lot of emotion, so to help you think through this as clearly as possible, I've collected some links from past posts—written, audio, and video—that give a good overview of the issues involved and respond to the concerns of the judges:

  • Same-Sex Marriage Challenges and Responses – "Western civilization is shuddering under a tidal wave of activism in favor of same-sex marriage. Here is a careful response to their most compelling arguments."
  • What Is Marriage? – "One of the smartest men I know of, Robert P. George from Princeton University, with Sherif Girgis and Ryan T. Anderson have written an argument for the traditional definition of marriage. You can download the PDF and digest it."
  • Denying Same-sex Marriage Isn't Unequal Protection – "An Iowa court recently ruled in favor of six same-sex couples who claimed that denying them the right to marry violates the equal protection clause. This argument seems reasonable at first. Straight people can marry. Gays cannot. This is not equal protection. A little reflection, however, reveals how this view is mistaken.''
  • Judge Strikes Down Prop 8 – "Prop 8 makes a very rational classification on the basis of a relevant characteristic—that is, the gender of the participants. Men and women are different, and there's no getting around this. This fact has biological, emotional, psychological, and more ramifications when it comes to families and the creation and rearing of children. The fact is that both male and female are essential to marriage."
  • We're Arguing Definitions, Not Rights – "One common misconception in the same-sex marriage debate is the idea that the traditional legal definition of marriage is a violation of equal rights. Since this is an extremely emotionally charged accusation, it's difficult to get past it into a real discussion of the issue. Here's the approach I usually take…"
  • Liberal Support for Traditional Marriage – "This self-described liberal Democrat supports California's Proposition 8, which would constitutionally define marriage between one man and one woman because, as the piece so well explains, marriage, as a societal institution recognized by government, is about children."