In Fresno, a Catholic priest who recently came out to his parishioners asked them to imagine they have just discovered they are gay. “How would you feel when you saw a car with a ‘Yes on 8’ bumper sticker?” In San Diego, a group opposing Proposition 8 calls itself “Californians Against Hate.” In San Jose, two women parked in front of a house that had a large “Yes on 8” banner. They spray painted their own car to turn it into a billboard saying “Bigots Live Here.”
Given all these episodes, I would like for the gays and lesbians of California to know what I mean by the “Yes on Proposition 8” sign in my yard. I want you to know what I am saying, and what I’m not saying, by driving around with a “Yes on Prop 8” sticker. Some opponents of Proposition 8 seem to view it as a referendum on whether we like gay people. I do not share this view. From my perspective, it would be tragic for the gays and lesbians of California to believe that every house with a “Yes on 8” sign in the yard is inhabited by someone who hates them.
I’m voting “yes” on 8, not because of my views of gays and lesbians, but because of my views about marriage. I view marriage as a gender-based institution that attaches mothers and fathers to each other and to their children. Those of us who support Proposition 8 believe that children deserve at least the chance to have a relationship with a mom and a dad. That isn’t hateful toward anyone.
We have watched as the small children of Massachusetts were taught about homosexuality in their public schools. We believe parents should decide when and what to teach their children about homosexuality, in accordance with their values, and their perception of their child’s maturity. We have trouble believing that the well-being of gays and lesbians really depends on children reading King and King in kindergarten.
We believe the California Supreme Court greatly overstepped its bounds. Its decision did more than legalize same sex marriage. The Court declared that requiring spouses to be of the opposite sex counts as discrimination. Religious groups that act on the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, are henceforth engaged in unlawful discrimination.
The Court also increased the level of judicial scrutiny given to sexual orientation discrimination cases, giving same sex couples the highest possible level of protection. This means that in contests between religious liberty and sexual orientation discrimination, religious liberty would almost always lose. The Court’s ruling gave gays and lesbians new grounds on which to sue religious people, and a higher probability of winning than before. Fair-minded Californians of all political persuasions don’t want every church-related activity threatened with legal harassment. Every marriage preparation class, every pre-school, every adoption agency, every high school, every teen youth group is potentially covered by the Court’s ruling. Voting “yes” on Proposition 8 is one of the few ways ordinary citizens can protest. They are not saying they hate gay people: they are saying the Court is out of control.
Millions of people are going to vote “yes” on Prop 8. People of every religion and no religion are going to vote “yes” on Prop 8. People with gay loved ones are going to vote “yes” on Prop 8. It would be tragic, and completely unwarranted, for gay men and lesbians to conclude that these people hate them.