Daily Archives: July 30, 2008

No Fair! You’re Saying What the Amendment Does!

It appears that the people in California trying to force a constitutional amendment to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry are outraged that the California ballot will have wording noting that very fact:

As it now stands, California’s November ballot will introduce Proposition 8 with these words: “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” On Tuesday, proponents of the proposition went to court to change that “inflammatory” language, saying it will unfairly influence voters to reject the measure.

Well, you know. When the result of your proposed constitutional amendment is to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, a right which they currently enjoy, it doesn’t get much more accurate than to describe it doing just that. Personally, I would have labeled it “The Marriage Nullification Amendment,” since that’s precisely what the amendment will do to thousands of entirely legal marriages in California, but I suspect the folks backing this proposition would like that even less.

And yes, while I realize it’s inconvenient for the people hoping to eliminate the right of same-sex couples of to marry to have accurate labels on their proposition, their desire to spin their rights-stripping piece of nastiness as something fluffy and innocent does not outweigh the public’s need to know exactly what they’re signing onto (or, if the polling on the matter is accurate, more likely rejecting). Basically, they’re complaining that the truth of the proposition is inflammatory. Well, sure. I know it pisses me off.

Somewhat related to this, Orson Scott Card brings the economy-sized jug of crazy sauce to the same-sex marriage discussion with this gem of a column. Whether he’s declaring that same-sex marriage marks the end of democracy in America, or hinting that married heterosexuals should overthrow the government because now gay people can marry, or just flat-out declaring that “biological imperatives trump laws” — I think I’ll call this the “forcible insemination get-out-of-jail-free card” hypothesis, because, hey, men got imperatives – this is OSC at his most foamy, and you really don’t want to miss it. As much as I admire OSC as a writer, and I really do, as a social thinker he’s far deep into my “oh, bless his heart” territory, and it seems unlikely he’ll be making a run for that border any time soon.

Speaking as one of the heterosexually-married people OSC clearly hopes will respond to this clarion call of his, I have to say to him: Dude, no. Just, no. On the list of government actions that have genuinely threatened the well-being of the United States over the years, same-sex marriage is probably about number 36,000, wedged between cashmere subsidies and funding for whatever set of still pictures Ken Burns is slow-panning across on PBS this next year. On the other hand, initiatives intended to cancel out existing marriages and deprive citizens of rights they already have under law jump up to near the top of the list of things I personally worry about tearing at the national fabric. Call it a difference in perspective.

Update, 4:50 pm: Stephen Bainbridge opines: “Card’s overwrought prose doubtless deserved Scalzi’s scorn, but the questions Card is raising are perfectly legitimate.” He’s discussing the legal issues surrounding the Cal Supreme Court decision specifically.