ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact on state and local governments.
I can't even begin to describe how disgusted I am with this measure and the behavior/attitudes of those promoting it. And I'm not even gay!
Mind you, marriage seems like a muddly sort of thing to begin with these days, at least in my opinion. It's something that gives off the impression of having been cobbled together over the years; its modern-American form is a weird mix of private affair and state-sanctioned rights. I wouldn't actually mind if someday, the USA established a system through which consenting adults of any gender and/or orientation could have their chosen partnerships legally recognized without necessarily calling it "marriage", so long as that system actually granted the same kinds of rights that marriage grants today but that "domestic partnerships" do not.
The whole "domestic partnership" thing is actually one of the more insidious bits of hand-wavery being propagated by the "yes on 8" foks. Some of their other lies ("omg they are going to force schools to teach kindergarteners about teh gay agenda!") would almost be ridiculous enough to laugh at if some folks weren't taking them so seriously, but the thing about domestic partnerships being supposedly equal to marriage except in name sounds almost reasonable. Of course, Prop 8 still reads like the bigoted power-trippy scaremongering it represents, but I can see how someone in a hurry might just come across a description of domestic partnerships and not be able to immediately see what gay couples would lose if they were no longer, in California, able to get actually married.
My brother, who is an independent like me (we both seem to share a strong discomfort with attaching ourselves to ideologies) hadn't heard much about Prop 8 until I started ranting about it recently on a BBS we both post on. And after reading said ranting, he asked if I had any information about the actual differences in practice between marriage and domestic partnership. So I pointed him to what is probably the clearest explanation I've read on this subject: an article entitled: Is a "Domestic Partnership" the Same as a "Marriage"? - No, but the California Supreme Court Says A "Domestic Partner" is the Same as a "Spouse", by Joanna Grossman.
The basis for this article was a discrimination case (Koebke v. Bernardo Heights Country Club) in 2005, wherein a lesbian couple registered as domestic partners tried to make use of spousal benefits at the golf club one of the women had belonged to for several years. Despite California law saying that domestic partners have "the same rights, protections, and benefits" and "the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law . . . as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.", the country club sought to deny benefits to Ms. Koebke's partner on the basis that the couple was not "married".
Koebke ended up winning her case, as the court invoked the Unruh Act, which specifically prohibits businesses from discriminating against individuals with particular characteristics. The Unruh Act notes "sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, [and] medical condition" as protected characteristics, but also notes that "...protections under the Unruh Act are not necessarily restricted to these characteristics."
And during Koebke v. Bernardo Heights Country Club, it was determined that (per the Grossman article) "the golf club, BHCC, violated the Unruh Act by drawing a distinction between married couples and domestic partners."
Sounds good, right? Well, yes, good in that particular case. But the fact that the case even came up to begin with brings to light the fact that in practice, domestic partnership is not automatically treated the way marriage is. Essentially there's a weird bit of semantic tomfoolery going on wherein despite the presumed equivalence of "domestic partner" to "spouse", "domestic partnerships" are not presumed equivalent to "married couples".
The article also goes on to note what I think are the most important distinctions between "domestic partnership" and "marriage" the way things stand now:
While states typically recognize marriages from other states, as long as they were valid where celebrated, there is no reason to expect recognition of a newly created civil status like a domestic partnership. This is especially significant, for the ability of one state to "export" same-sex marriage to other states against their will was central to the widespread adoption of "defense-of-marriage" initiatives. A non-portable domestic partnership does not implicate the same concerns.
Moreover, several states' defense-of-marriage initiatives expressly say that the state will not permit or recognize any formal legal status for same-sex couples, including domestic partnerships, civil unions, or their functional equivalent.
Later on the article also observes that:
The fact is, registered domestic partners, under an expansive law like California's act both personally and legally like spouses, and laws like the Unruh Act should recognize that. At the same time, no one understands more than those couples that they are not parties to a "marriage" - and thus do not benefit from the respect, legal force, and portability that accompanies that status.
As long as same-sex marriage opponents insist on withholding the word, it ought to make a difference - a legal one, not just a semantic one - when laws also withhold it. In theory, the word is only a word; in practice, for many, it's much more.
To sum up, yes, there is a difference between "domestic partnership" and "marriage". I am not saying that marriage is necessarily always superior to domestic partnership -- there may very well be couples, gay and straight, who prefer the terms of a domestic partnership to the terms of marriage as the two entities currently stand. But it is still deceptive and misleading for the "Yes on 8" folks to frame calls for equality on behalf of gay couples who wish to marry as calls for "special treatment" or some sort of extra bonus above and beyond what they already have, as if what they already have is actually equally portable and powerful in terms of establishing certain rights as marriage.
One thing I've been paying a lot of attention to lately is the way privilege (a) operates, and (b) makes it possible for really horrible and ridiculous policies to end up with way more official legitimacy than they merit in any semblance of any conceptualization of the actual, real world. Privilege benefits those who have it in some ways, but it can also stunt people's capacity for reasonable thought if it isn't recognized for what it is. And as far as I can tell, Prop 8 is the product of a bunch of privileged heterosexual people's discomfort with something that doesn't fit their idea of what this country should look like.
There are few things that irk me more than people banding together to pretend reality is a certain way when it isn't, and then scapegoating minorities for a lot of the very problems that plague their own ranks. Prop 8 proponents claim to be concerned about children and families, emphasizing the "marriage is about procreating and providing a healthy environment for kids to grow up in" angle, despite there being:
...no law requiring that couples produce children within a certain amount of time after marriage in order for the partnership to be deemed legitimate
...no law requiring those couples stay together if they find reason to divorce
...and no law against being a single parent for any reason.
It just seems glaringly, mind-bogglingly obvious that the "oh, marriage is about raising children" thing (invoked by Prop 8's attempt-at-cutesy "logo" on which happy hetero stick figures raise their arms as they rejoice in their heterospecialness) is a total crock -- a slapdash veneer pasted carelessly over a steaming pile of fear, unease, and hate.
This is one way of identifying privilege: when you don't even have to make good arguments to get your proposals taken seriously.
When you can get away with claiming something utterly dumb and unsupported by any coherent evaluation of reality without having endless justifications and evidence demanded of you.
When you can pretty easily get laws and regulations proposed which let you avoid changing anything about the way you're already operating.
Quite frankly, it seems to me that these folks are letting their cowardice show, and trying to sign it into law so they don't have to deal with it. And spending lots and lots of money to promote their hatred and cowardice, which is something that leaves me quite dumbstruck when I consider how these are probably some of the same people going around trumpeting the terrible scarcity of resources necessitating a zero-sum look at things like healthcare and other services. While I don't like to get too negative on a blog entitled "Existence is Wonderful", some things are just too darned awful to describe in any terms other than the ones that fit them. There is no silver lining to hate.
And in case it wasn't obvious, I'm voting No on 8.