In the wake of the recent elections, many issues are still being discussed with vigor and it is clear that not all debates can end with the mere selection of a new president. Throughout the United States, a rancor was raised over the always controversial political discourse on the rights of same-sex couples and the extent of the law’s protections.
It is hardly surprising that issues directly pertinent to gay and lesbian rights are not exclusive to California. In Florida and Arizona, the rights of same-sex couples to marry were also in dispute, and were decisively denied. In Arkansas, the rights of same-sex couples to adopt children were additionally struck down.
This may come as less of a shock to some that in more historically conservative states, the rights of same sex couples are more restrictive, however in the state which has been disputably setting the curve for progressive politics in the last half century, further inspection ought to be expected.
Having personally been involved in the campaign that opposed the passage of California Proposition 8, which amends our state constitution to state that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” I was highly conscious of the messages being sent by and between each campaign.
Though the role I played was relatively inconsequential in the campaign as a whole, I was able to recognize some of the areas that “No on 8” failed to effectively address. Considering the narrow 4 percent margin by which the proposition passed, I think these areas may have cost us the election.
During the campaign, one area that I noticed my comrades at the “No on 8” camp consistently neglected was the argument that “Yes on 8,” “Protect Marriage” and other Proposition 8 supporters consistently pushed; namely, the discussion of same-sex marriage being taught in schools to children as young as five and six years old.
This issue was consistently brought to the public attention without an adequate rebuttal. Those who read the education code for California can find the clause that the “Yes on 8” campaigns constantly referenced during the election. Those same readers would also note the multiple opt-out clauses surrounding this clause, and the considerable decision-making power of parents in the ultimate shaping of school curricula.
Members of “No on 8” had this information readily available, but failed to use it when the time was right. The voters did not receive full and accurate information during the months leading to election because they were presented only with the incomplete chunks of the law presented by “Yes on 8.”
Proposition 8 supporters claimed that churches would be at risk of litigation or loss of tax-exempt status should they deny any couple, same sex or otherwise, the rights of marriage. The truth-value to this argument is more absent than the one before.
It was well known by many individuals in the campaign against Proposition 8 that churches were protected from the repercussions of denying marriage rights to any couple for any reason due to constitutionally mandated separation of church and state.
The initial foundation for this argument was from a court case involving a doctor who refused to artificially inseminate one member of a same-sex couple, and was not employed by a religious institution. This set of facts again failed to receive adequate exposure.
The decisions that lead to the passage of Proposition 8 were of course not unanimous, and there are a number of things contributed, but my time and space are limited. In an increasingly expanding age of information, no campaign can afford to underestimate or to under-educate their prospective voters.
The main point that I believe we can take home from this is that when facts are available, but not necessarily accessible across the board, it is the responsibility of those of us who have the information to share it, and to spread it as far as we can. A well-researched approach to campaigning will always carry more weight than a series of emotional appeals or slogans.
Lydia Kroll is a senior psychology major and a contributing writer for the Daily Forty-Niner.