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A revolting proposition

Tomorrow, voters in the United States of America go to the polls to elect a new president, a bunch of representatives, and to answer a bunch of questions on local state ballots.

I'm not going to say anything about the presidential election. You can probably guess who I'd vote for if I was a US citizen, but I'm not, so my opinion on that subject is strictly irrelevant. Anyway, I predict that whoever wins — I'm sticking my neck out here — is going to be a conservative male career politician, with a net personal worth in excess of $1M. (On my planet — which is not the Planet America — Barack Obama is a conservative. Why are you looking at me like that? Just because John McCain is a conservative, it does not automatically follow that his opponent is a liberal.)

There is, however, one particular item on the ballot in California that I have an opinion about. And because it's a well-defined legislative change (rather than a mushy question about which politician or party is better), and because the outcome of this item is potentially going to have international consequences, I'm going to haul out my soap-box and megaphone.

I'm talking about Proposition 8 (2008), an initiative state constitutional amendment on the ballot. If passed, Proposition 8 would amend the state constitution to state: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Proposition 8 is intended to inject anti-gay religious discrimination into the California constitution by depriving same-sex couples of a basic civil right; it's an expression of bigotry so blatant that its backers felt the need to mis-title it the 'California Marriage Protection Act' when circulating it, to divert attention from what it really said.

Speaking as a man who happens to be married to a woman, I'm mystified as to how banning someone else from marrying can in any way protect my marriage; but this kind of Orwellian misuse of language is typical of witch hunters. When challenged, supporters of the act often bring up irrelevancies: "marriage is for the purpose of having children," they say, conveniently side-stepping the question of why they aren't in favour of mandatory divorce for childless or elderly couples, or why they oppose allowing gay couples to adopt. Or, "marriage is a holy sacrament," which kind of assumes that everybody shares their definition of "holy".

A quick search for organizations supporting this proposition throws up the usual suspects: the Roman Catholic Church, American Family Association, Focus on the Family — basically the usual sleazy mess of hard-line Christian groups — with the Church of Latter-Day Saints and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America along for the ecumenical pogrom.

Here's a good diagnostic test for whether a proposed law is bigoted: if it applies to a group of people, replace the subject group in question with "Jews" or "Blacks", and see how it reads. If Adolf Hitler or the Grand Cyclops would approve, then it's a fair bet that there's something fishy about it. In the case of Proposition 8, how would you vote if it read, "Only marriage between Christians is recognized in California"? Or "Only marriage between white-skinned people is recognized in California"?

If you are a Californian voter and you vote for Proposition 8, then I'm afraid it means you're a bigot. You favour depriving a subset of the population of their civil rights, you are willing to vote for a measure that will destroy existing marriages, and you will refuse to honour marriage contracts acknowledged elsewhere in the world. And you've tacitly admitted that your own marriage does need protecting (which is kind of pathetic).

You're also providing aid and comfort to bigots and intolerant, murderous fundamentalists elsewhere on the planet, for which the rest of us (who have to deal with our own local nutjobs) will not thank you. When one state or nation passes a law like this one, it encourages activists elsewhere to campaign for their own equivalent. The organizations backing of Proposition 8 aren't Californian — they're mostly national or international, and they will take a victory in the polls in California and push it for all it's worth elsewhere. So if you vote for Proposition 8 and it passes, you can rest assured that you've done your bit for bigotry not only at home, but in the rest of the world.

Anyway, I've had my say. I'm not going to tell you how to vote: making up your mind is your privilege. But if you're voting in California tomorrow and haven't already made your mind up, I hope you'll have a think about what I've said.

133 Comments

1:

C'mon, Charlie; tell us what you *really* feel :).

[I have been pleasurably surprised, as a US-living Brit, to see what I hope is the beginning of a movement to restore some separation between organised religion and the gov't over here. Even Dole's "godless" attack in NC appears to have backfired, albeit only because the target was so blatantly church-going. And the movement towards equal treatment for same-sex couples, while slow, has been pretty much one-way. I still have hope :)]

2:

How do I really feel?

I figure we've spent the last eight years living in Onion-land: Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over. I hope we're about to wake up from it. But I expect to be disappointed.

3:

Charile:

Don't forget to include the voters of Florida in your harangue. We have a similar constitutional amendment on the ballot, here.

Ewan @1:
This isn't so much a church-and-state thing. More of a State thing. As long as the government chooses to recognize "married" as a status by which to grant or withhold favors, they'll play politics with it. Which is my minarchist case for voting against such measures in a nut shell. Government out of marriage!

4:

Thank you for reminding us that Obama is not necessarily a liberal. Nor, as far as I can tell, is much of the US 'liberal media' - being less right-wing than Fox need not bring you even within sight of the centre ground.

I still think he sounds a more interesting proposition than McCain. 'What do you call a failed military man? A prisoner of war!'

5:

For my fellow Americans living in "safe states", (i.e., states where their vote doesn't count) there are several fine choices who might be considered genuinely liberal (or leftist) on either side of the pond.

6:

I live in California, and you have no idea how heinous the ads for Prop 8 have gotten. They are basically trying to convince people that kindergartners are going to start having gay sex in the classroom if you vote no. I plan to vote no on this nonsense tomorrow.

7:

Speaking for myself, I find McCain worrying and Palin absolutely terrifying. McCain represents more of Bush, with Palin waiting to take Bushism to its logical conclusion if and when McCain's cancer catches up with him: she's a very nasty piece of work.

If those two end up in charge, my fear is that the role of science in the English-speaking nations will be completely devalued, reduced to a neo-Lysenkoist propaganda tool in the service of religious zealotry. A new dark age, in other words. It goes far beyond the legislated injustices and persecution of gays, atheists, and others, bad though that will be: with political patronage, the Intelligent Design numpties are capable of irreparably damaging the western scientific enterprise, just at the time when we most desperately need its unbiased insights.

Obama, in contrast, is a centre-right Chicago politician with a hardcore legal background who appears to respect the rule of law. He's unashamedly intelligent, and by American political standards he seems to be a religious moderate (which means, in practice, he's less obsessive than GWB or, say, Tony Blair).

In other words, Obama is at the very minimum a lesser evil. And I am desperately hoping for something more ...

8:

According to some source or other, Obama is the most liberal senator currently serving. I have no idea how true that is, but what weirds me out is that for Americans, 'liberal' seems to be a dirty word. I hear 'most liberal' and _my_ brain interprets that as 'most decent'.

9:

I hardly think I need to state my agreement, I hope.

Of course, odds are pretty high that I'd be considered largely (but not entirely) "conservative" elsewhere in the world. These days, I'm calling myself "progressive," not "liberal." It reminds me that I'm looking forward, not backward.

10:

I actually am offended by your use of "pogram".cf definition below.

And I think the government should actually not be part of marriage, that civil unions should be regulated by the State and that marriage should be regulated by whatever group you want. I think if the issue were redefined this way it would take the wind out of the sails of religious groups. And really, it works better, as I see here in Germany, where religious and non-religious ceremonies have nothing to do with each other. Stop calling a state sanctioned union a marriage and maybe the religious right will no longer care what anyone does: it will no longer affect them.
cf Wikipedia:
A pogrom is a form of riot directed against a particular group, whether ethnic, religious, or other, and characterized by destruction of their homes, businesses, and religious centres. Historically, the term as used in English has very often been used to denote extensive violence against Jews — either spontaneous or premeditated — but it has also been applied to similar incidents against other, mostly minority, groups.

Pogroms are usually accompanied by physical violence against the targeted people, sometimes by rape and sometimes even murder or massacre.

11:

I live in California, and I voted absentee already, pretty much straight down the line liberal, including voting against prop 8. What I'm surprised by is that this is getting attention in other countries. I hadn't realized that it would actually give foreign movements credibility. eep...
In dealings with people who support it, I fear than any argument I make will fall on deaf ears. When people think that their religion is telling them to vote for something, an attack on it is something they see as an attack on their religion. Of course, it doesn't help that I'm an athiest, and when that gets out, it probably scares them more.
To me, it seems like rational political discourse gets completely destroyed when someone finds a way to bring their deity into it.
Anyway, I like your arguments Charlie, I might just be able to push a few votes to 'no' with it.

12:

Thank you so much for making sense, Charlie! I live in California, and volunteered with the No On 8 campaign. It's gonna be close, but I'm really hoping we'll put an end to this crap tomorrow. Every bit from everyone helps, though, and I appreciate you putting your thoughts out there.

And double thanks for not being insane, like Orson Scott Card.

13:

I hear and obey. :-) Actually, had decided which way to vote about 1800ms after learning of the existence of Prop.8, TYVM.

And if, Ghod forfend, that malign bit of holier-than-thou crap actually should get approved? Well, I'll be seeking another state / nation in which to pursue my (single)(het) interests ... because bigots get right up my nose, and I lack the time and LARTs to deal with their removal.

14:

G@10: From here -
2007 Hate Crime Survey - Companion Survey on Homophobia - Violent Homophobic Attacks
:

"Incident reports provide some basis to establish that homophobic violence is both frequent and of particular brutality."

And from the statistics section of the same report:

"In the United States, the Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that in 2005 there were 1,017 incidents motivated by a sexual orientation bias."

And on a related topic, the need for Transgender Day of Remembrance seems to increase every year.

So, "pogrom" seems to me to be a perfectly adequate term.

15:

The national review if I recall, and they are out and out lying trough their teeth.
- Obama is the senator of illinois, and he is, as would be expected, pretty much right in the middle of the democratic party ideologically, which, yes, would make him center-right in most countries.

On proposition 8, all I have to say is that there are currently 20000 legally recognised same sex marriages in the state of california. Passing it would therefore amount to mass divorce by ballot fiat. This is not a pretty precedent to set.

16:

G @10: So queer-bashing and murder don't show up on your radar, huh?

A climate of legislated discrimination provides an environment in which physical assault and murder are encouraged. The Nazis had to pass the Nuremberg Laws before they could create the conditions for Kristallnacht and subsequent developments. And I believe that a "yes" vote for Proposition 8 will probably have fatal consequences not too far down the road. Because it sends the same signal: that discrimination against one particular minority is respectable and encouraged.

(Hint for you, G: one side of my family emigrated from Poland because of a pogrom. Their relatives, who stayed behind, disappeared into Auschwitz in 1942. Don't lecture me about pogroms ...)

17:

Christopher: my fiancée seriously considered calling off the engagement if it passes. (Unfortunately, from a pure fiscal perspective, we can't. The medical cost aspect alone is overwhelming.) However, if it does pass, I'll still give money to anyone who tries to get a ballot initiative banning marriage completely. Or making divorce completely illegal. Or both.

I shared it with Charlie via email, but I got... a bit annoyed with the bigots yesterday.

18:

Thank you for making that point, Charlie and Feòrag -- I wanted to, but didn't trust my temper.

I had a link on the word "annoyed" in my last comment, but it didn't seem to show up very well. Sorry.

19:

Thanks Andrew. I have never read any of Card's books and now I don't think I'll start...He seems to think if you allow gay marriage, all of the sudden people will become gay who weren't and society will crumble. Homosexuals are a minority, which most stats put representing around 4 to 5 percent of the population. How is that threatening, especially when most of them probably won't get married anyway?

20:

Obama isn't even close to being the most liberal senator according to this ordering of liberal senators. Or of conservative senators. Both lists from electoral-vote.com.

Calling him most liberal this or least conservative that (and likewise for McCain) is just another way of enforcing the "them and us" divide that some people need to help them choose who to vote for.

21:

All I can say is, "Isn't it great that we have the internet to bring together the little islands of sanity spread across the planet"

I'm really glad to know you're out there, Charlie.

22:

This whole "Obama is a liberal" thing makes me laugh. As I tell Americans who repeat this, there is _no_ political "left" in America. There is right wing and extreme right wing. And then there's Bush who would need a telescope to even see the center, let alone the left.

They look at me as if I'm from another planet. Well, England is close enough :-)

(From an Englishman in New York)

23:

Thank you.

At least our Attorney General wrote the ballot to reflect the reality of Prop 8: "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry." I'm hoping for the best tomorrow.

24:

"According to some source or other, Obama is the most liberal senator currently serving."

Every election the republicans have one of their organs draw up a list with the democratic candidate as "the most liberal" then cite it in the campaign.

It gets to be funny by the third election, unless you are the sort that promptly forgets that this has happened before and nods your head vigorously at this novel and compelling argument.

25:

This whole post is phrased as a call to attention to potential voters. But really, who's going to be convinced by this if they weren't already? Let's be honest here Charlie, it's a rant. That's all. A rant to the choir (of which I am one, by the way). You aren't going to convince anyone or have any effect by saying this, except maybe you'll feel somewhat better. Catharsis can be a worthy goal in itself.

26:

Was there any candidate in the U.S. Primaries folk would rather have seen boosted to the general election ticket? (Both GOP and Dems, why not.)

27:

I just wanted to say thank you for revealing the way to 'test' a bigoted statement. I'd never thought of it that way before, and it will prove un-endingly useful in my oft recorded rants to my Daily Male (intended) work colleagues.

I hope this gets voted NO. I'm not gay, but I really despise any form of bigotry.

28:

Hey, Mr. Stross-- I live in California and I'll vote twice tomorrow for you. 8)

29:

asdf @25: guilty as charged.

I have to some extent spent the past few years bottling it up. This blog is, after all, my public face -- and I'm acutely aware that just as Orson Scott Card seems to have put off innumerable readers of a center- or left-wing bent by way of his rants, I, too, could shoot my sales figures in the foot by going off half-cocked.

But I don't think bigots, homophobes, and intolerant fundamentalists are a large chunk of my regular book-buying readers. (If they are, I'm doing something so very wrong that I really ought to give up writing.) So fuck 'em.

30:

I live in Milwaukee, where we had actual Socialists in power; and they got re-elected. Obama's no socialist, much less Socialist. I'm only sorry America's press is too ignorant or cowardly to point that out. (Except, bizarrely enough, for the Colbert Report, which had Socialist Party presidential candidate Brian Moore as a guest last week to refute the accusations.)

31:

I voted against this absentee ballot a week or so ago for reasons of basic rights, but also because of the friends and relatives who this directly effects. I do have to correct post 15, though: it is my understanding that Prop 8 can't be applied retroactively. This is one reason why many have rushed to get married. Many, like my 60 year old aunt or my mother's 70 year old cousin, wanted to get it done before the rights were revoked. It meant a lot of hasty, poorly planned weddings, but beautiful ones none-the-less.

The "Yes on 8" campaign has set a new high mark for blatant lies and misrepresentation, going so far as to claim that making everyone abide by their rules is "religious freedom". It makes one almost wish there was a God to give the "Thou shalt not bear false witness" commandment some teeth.

32:

Someone stole my No on 8 lawn sign last week. I was so pissed I sprang for next-day delivery on the new one. It's survived so far, along with my Bowlers for Obama sign.

33:

The only thing worse than Prop 8 is it's supporters. Recently they chose to to demonstrate on the same corner as I catch my bus to work. They were holding signs that said:

Prop 8=Less Government
Prop 8=Free Speech
Prop 8=Religious Freedom
Prop 8=Parental Rights

Having time to kill I walked up to each one of them and asked what Prop 8 had to do with what was on the sign, half just dropped their jaws in stunned silence that anybody would question the assertion. The other half would erupt in a Palinesque barrage of non sequiturs "San Francisco!", "Gavin Newsom!" (The mayor of San Francisco) and trail off. I'd then ask, "If you don't know, why are you holding that sign?" same reaction.

As for Obama, not particularly liberal but at this point, I'm more than happy to go with sane, reasonably intelligent, and tethered to reality.

34:

monopole @33: ah, they're using the Chewbacca Defense as a campaign platform: "my lord, the defendant wishes to explain that he isn't guilty because LOOK OVER THERE, A HAIRY WOOKIE!!!"

35:

So far 26 states in the US ban same-sex marriage outright, via their constitutions. Only 3 allow sex-marriage (California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut) the rest have some sort of limited ban and/or some other form of union.

I happen to live in Connecticut, which recently allowed same-sex marriage via the Equal Protection clause of the state constitution. Unfortunately this coincides with the once-every-20-years vote on whether or not we want another constitutional convention in the state. So the folks who want to ban gay marriage are trying to get a convention called in the hope they can have a ban written in. Fortunately, I don't think they have much chance and are grasping at straws.

36:

As a libertarian, I find half of Obama's positions far, far too liberal and the other half far, far too conservative. :)

Same for McCain, of course, just different halves.

37:

It's really amazing how homophobia is at the core of christian right belief system. It's not a symptom, and it's not merely an aspect of it. It really seems to be the one thing they're absolutely sure of, more than anything else. That makes it the one thing they're most pants-crappingly terrified of, as evidenced here:

http://focusfamaction.edgeboss.net/download/focusfamaction/pdfs/10-22-08_2012letter.pdf

Pretty much every point in that document is about How parents are going to have to gay marry, and teach their gay children about gay sex in gay 1st grade and attend gay boy-scouts so that they can be gay-raped by gay scout-masters (you can see where this is going) and everybody will be forced to preach the excellence of gay, or else go to gay jail for gay hate speech.

38:

On the one hand, I consider it a pity that I don't vote in California, as it would be a pleasure to be able to vote directly against this sort of institutionalized bigotry. On the other hand, the fact that I DO vote in West Virginia means that I get to try to shift the outcome in this historically borderline state. WV tends to be socially conservative, but with a strong labor union tradition thanks to the coal mining legacy, and as a consequence the election is ALWAYS tight here.
www.electoral-vote.com currently has us polling as "Weak GOP", and I relish the thought of voting against the GOP whackos tomorrow morning, even if the only effect I have is to slightly narrow their margin of victory.

39:

Sorry Charlie, but Obama is about as liberal as you are ever ever going to see in a US president...

40:

UnHolyGuy @39: "ever" is a very long time. I'll grant you he's the most liberal mainstream party candidate we're going to see in the next 8 years. Beyond that, who the hell knows? Certainly this isn't the future I'd expected to see from the standpoint of November 2nd, 2000.

41:

Doesn't matter what we put on the ballots, 'they' just want to see if we are OK with giving up our everything. and even if we are not, 'they'll' do it anyway. we are fucked. not just this country, the entire planet...fucked. even if we 'the people' fought back and removed corruption from power, they'd destroy us all.

42:

UnHolyGuy @39:

On the contrary... in my lifetime, I expect to see a conservative Republican Presidential candidate who is in favor of gay marriage for the same reason that Republicans presently have pictures of MLK on their walls and for the same reason that they are "happy" to stop at "don't ask, don't tell" in the military.

Barring a dark age, the left always wins in the end. (Unless the Singularity-enhanced polarbear/grizly hybrids get us first...)

43:

I have to say that I pretty much agree with @10 on the government and marriage issue. The way I see it, there are two reasons why gay marriage is such an inflammatory issue, and why I think it demeans the argument to try and dismiss one side as just bigotry. One of those issues is the language. "Marriage" is a term that government has essentially appropriated from religion. Just changing the language so that government stopped using that term would defuse much of the argument, since what most religions are up in arms about seems mostly to be government forcibly applying their terms in ways that they never allowed. I think religions would be similarly offended if, say, the term "Passover" came to apply to some government ceremony that was only vaguely related to the Jewish holiday.

The other issue is one of positive liberties. I have met several people who are more offended by the nature of marriage being extended to new definitions. Their point is that marriage is not a negative liberty - that is, government prohibiting gay marriage is not stopping gay people from doing anything, but government allowing gay marriage would be granting gay people extra privileges. In many cases, these people would be similarly offended were these privileges granted to anyone else, not just gay couples, because any government privileges are granted at everyone's expense. I find that thinking about the issue in this way does raise legitimate questions about how government should treat various unions.

My opinion is that not only should government strip the phrase marriage out of legal use, but that the benefits of cohabitation unions should be somewhat isolated from the typical religious purposes of marriage. Why shouldn't a man living with and caring for his elderly, Alzheimer stricken mother be allowed to enter a cohabitation union with the government? It seems like the benefit to society of such care is such that government can recognize it and legally give him the same sort of benefits for the similar reasons marriage is currently recognized.

44:

As a time-travelling Singularity-enhanced polar bear / grizzly hybrid, I am here to make causality ensure our eventual victory by inducing events that will create a paradox if it doesn't.

The fact that you were expecting us already makes me think we might will have not succeeded...curse the future human resistance that probably will have sent you!

45:

My anscestors are Scottish and English Protestants on my mother's side and Breton French and ethnic German Catholics on my father's. By the "traditional definition of marriage" held by many 100 years ago that combination is disturbing if not completely unacceptable.

46:

What I don`t like about Obama is his energy policy. Denying nuclear power? WTF?

47:

Prop 102 on the ballot in Arizona is pretty much word-for-word what the California proposition says. Currently same-sex marriage is illegal in AZ, but the righties want it codified in the state constitution (Activist Judges! Eeek!). They tried two years ago and it got voted down by a decent majority, but it appears that was due primarily to some language in the original amendment which reached so far as to exclude certain family rights. This time it's stripped down to a single sentence and with all the usual suspects (Catholics, LDS, etc) pushing it with vague happy-talk it's probably going to sail through. Meh.

48:

I agree with your conclusion, but I'm not sure I buy your argument.

"Blacks shall not be allowed to drive" is bigoted.

"Children shall not be allowed to drive" is not.

I oppose Prop 8, and I do think it's bigoted, not that I'm a Californian to do anything about it.

49:

Taoist @43: two points. (a) I live in a nation where there is an official state Church; unless you are explicit about being something else, it's the default setting. And (b) the reason marriage is a matter of interest to the state goes back to the early mediaeval period, when marriages between great feudal families could make or break entire kingdoms.

Both these are cultural and legal fossils that can, and in my opinion should, be abolished. In some countries one or other of these hold-overs has indeed been done away with; the USA has no national church (but instead an explicit separation thereof), and on some European states the civil and religious aspects of marriage are entirely separate -- from the state's point of view it's simply a contractual arrangement permitted between two individuals.

But that's not the case in point right now.

martin @48: children are a special case, insofar as they're not deemed fully competent or granted the full set of adult rights in other areas. Also, they're a category that cuts across ethnic/religious/cultural/gender lines -- indeed, childhood is a universal experience (insofar as we were all children and subject to the "not allowed to drive" stricture once). If a prohibition applies to everyone, equally (albeit under certain circumstances), it's not obviously discriminatory in the same way as a prohibition that applies only to some people who share an externally-defined characteristic.

50:

I think the American election may have led to my NaNoWriMo efforts. I seem to be killing off Nazis at the rate of one every thousand words, and I find I'm writing a lot of words.

Anyhow, time to bring in the romantic interest. I have Lady Helen booked for at least three Nazi's, in early April 1937, and she has to meet the hero, take a side-trip to Australia so as to get her stepmother (the Dowager Duchess) married to a brewery owner, and get her multi-engine flying-boat commercial-pilot rating.

Will pirates be a sufficient substitute for Nazis?


51:

Dave: why not go the whole hog and have Nazi pirates? A Q-ship with an unhappy Kriegsmarine crew who have been shanghaied to Shanghai by a fanatical Ahnenerbe-SS adventurer, perhaps?

When in doubt, raid William le Queux; "The Terror of the Air" would be a good starting point.

52:

Charlie, I agree that children are a special case in law, but they still break your test. They are a group of people. Swapping "children" and "Jews" in many statutes will make said statutes rabidly bigoted.

I find your attempt to make them not a "group of people" but "everyone, once" a bit of a stretch. Still, kids are just an easy example. Laws based on wealth ("Blacks/Homeowners shall pay a tax based on X% of the value of..), or citzenship ("Jews/Non-Citizens shall not vote") are easy enough to make bigoted as well.

The test is not a good one, IMO.

53:

What has been amazing is the speed at which acceptance of gay-marriage has grown in California. Only 5 years ago, it was a distinctly minority opinion. Now its close to being a majority. The big turn around has been in adults under 30 where a huge majority have become comfortable with the idea.

If this prop does pass, it will be a last gasp of the conservatives. At the rate at which public opinion is changing, there will be a solid majority favoring the proposition in a few years. In some ways, it is a pity the judicial desicision that triggered this prop. didn't happen in another 1-2 years.

54:

Charlie @40 The problem is that roughly 20% of the American electorate are pretty much out of all touch with reality (see Dubya's current approval rating).

They will not vote for someone holding liberal values regardless of how bad things get for them and their families, any more so then a fundamentalist christian will vote for Satan.

It's a matter of faith not reason.

Those 20% are generally enough to tip the scales toward the middle at least if not toward the right.

I have lived in the midwest, I have lived in the south. An entire new generation has to live and die before these beliefs could possibly be bred out.

Why I am a staunch California seperationist (-:

55:

Oh, I think I could fit the Ahnenerbe-SS in somewhere.

Actually, I think I might have already have them lurking. Not so much named as implicit in a plot that was foiled.

I know they say don't edit, but I'd better correct "Imperial Guard" to "Prussian Guard". Cooks and clerks, Herr Hitler. Cooks and clerks.

56:

Charlie, with posts like these, I am beginning to get cheesed off that you don't comment over at my blog.

I don't see the rant, I should say. I'll add that I'm a little surprised at the comment traffic you got from Americans. I mean, Prop 8 is old news, and your views are smack dab within the Californian mainstream. As in Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dianne Feinstein mainstream.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/11/obama-on-prop-8.html

I will say that you're doing a bit of a dancing-angels pin-heads cape-at-bull thing by calling Barack Obama a center right candidate. I'm probably a bit more familiar with the European ... oh, screw it. I'm tired, I'm in North Carolina, and I'm not going to mince words. Charlie, my job requires me to be very familiar with the political spectrum across European countries, and I don't see the "center-right" claim.

Even as regards universal health care, he's on record as supporting the (rather good) plan he supports because more drastic changes would be politically impossible, not because he doesn't desire them. (Yeah, he was attacked for that during the primary campaign.) And then there's the death penalty, I suppose, but if that's your litmus test then you're going to wind up shoving a lot of politicians --- including European politicians --- onto the wrong side of that spectrum.

Lots of Britons whom I know share your view, including Niall Ferguson, but that doesn't make it correct.

So, yeah, it's fun to tweak the Americans. And the Americans love it, because it buys into our "exceptional nation" self-image. But it's still wrong.

57:

Another ballot proposal you might be interested in; Amendment 48* in Colorado. This is an anti-choice proposal that would define a person to "include any human being from the moment of fertilization." The title of it is longer than the actual change to the state constitution that it would entail. This from the state that passed Amendment 2**.

What I'm wondering (not too seriously) is; what about all the frozen embryos in fertility clinics? Will they suddenly have full civil rights, and will the jebus phreaks insist that they be implanted immediately?

I think I had some other comments in mind, but soups on.
As for marriage I say if two adults love each other and want to get married they should be allowed to.

*- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_Amendment_48_(2008)
**- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romer_v._Evans

58:

Not everyone who leans to the right is a biggoted homophobe.I for one believe a woman has the right to chose about wether or not she wants an abortion and I was opposed to the War in Iraq. i also don't believe that government handouts have a positive effect on struggling minorities unless they include student loans or job training. Unfortunately Mr. Obama has promised everything to everyone including cheap gas and help paying the mortgage. We all know that someone is going to be disappointed with Obama's broken promises.

59:

Just back from Berlin. Liberalism isn't a backward looking ideology, or a wimpy vacuum; it's the opposite of the bastards who ruined Europe, the opposite of the disease whose symptoms we're still treating.

It's a question of meta-rights; there's no use having formal co-decision, if you're not allowed to assemble/speak/etc..

60:

To get historical about marriage, originally in the West it was a function of the family. Both in Roman and later Germanic-fusion culture, there was a male head of the house hold who had certain legal and religious powers. Marriage, along with a bunch of other stuff, was under his jurisdiction and basically worked by working it out with another head of a family and making it public.

In the Early Middle Ages, or Dark Ages, marriage was liberalized by the Church. It seems odd these days to think of the Church doing that, but it basically removed a lot of power from petty dictator patriarchs and placed it into the hands of a more rational institution. For example, a man and woman could still marry without the permission of their families. Over time it became more codified but this is where we get things like the idea of common law marriage.

During the Late Middle Ages and more modern times the State began growing in power and usurping the powers of the Church. Marriage was one of the later powers to be taken, mainly because of the consequences it has on property and taxes.

61:

I don't live in California, but I gave a bit of money to Equality California. I already voted here in Virginia.

62:

Noel@56: Obama opposes single payer. He explicitly wants to keep the insurance companies in the loop shaking people down like mafia racketeers.

Obama supports tort reform. Tort reform means taking power away from juries, judges and appellate court judges because corporate lobbyists and lawyers will do a better job of protecting us from corporations? (I don't really get it myself.)

Obama supported the absolute, indefinite suspension of our 4th, 5th, and 9th Amendment rights by voting for retroactive immunity for FISA violations by corporate collaborators.

I would go to the barricades for him, nonetheless. But I am under no illusions regarding his centrism...

JPR@57: Does that mean the tourist skiers can't bring their birth control pharm with them? A significant fraction of the time it acts by preventing implantation. How many years in prison does a woman get for taking the Pill on her honeymoon?

msz@58: What promises are you talking about? Handouts? Cheap gas? Really? Where do you get your info from?

In conclusion and in summary, I propose that if Prop 8 passes, we take a jackhammer to the San Andreas Fault and send those jerks into the sea to make their own hate-filled country.

If McShame cheats his way in, the rest of you are free to join us in Fortress New England.

63:

Dawg@62: you're misreading my chastisement of Charlie. I'm not saying that Obama is a leftist, not by any means; I am saying that he's not a conservative by European standards. In other words, I'm chastising Charlie for buying into an "Americans are different" narrative that I don't think fits the data.

(I could be wrong, of course.)

Take your three points. German-style health care systems keep private insurance companies in the loop, and Obama supports a move in that direction because that's the only way to get to universal health care with our political system. Me, I prefer Canada to Germany as an end-state, but you can't call a large leap in the German direction "conservative."

"Tort reform" (which Obama doesn't really support, by the way --- I assume you mean his yes vote on CAFA) means taking the U.S. legal system in a European (particularly British) direction. The issue just doesn't map onto most European political spectrums.

Finally, FISA immunity: French security services have far more powers, with the support of Socialists, and we won't mention the Labor Party. I don't like it any more than you do (well ... I'm a little more sanguine) but again, the point is that the debate doesn't map neatly onto the European political spectrum.

In other words, he might be somewhat conservative by /American/ standards, but not by European ones. And that's what I'm protesting.

Of course, again, I might be wrong. Definitions, they are tricky. And sleep, I need to get. Gonna be a long day tomorrow.

64:

As a CA native this is the most disgusting prop 8. I am hopeful it will go down.

Here's a commercial by the folks against it really calling out the religious crazies.

Even if prop 8 passes, it is possible that the CA supreme court may strike it down using the same reasoning they used to strike down prop 22 (but it would be harder because prop 8 is a constitutional amendment and prop 22 was only a statue initiative).

I remember at UCLA when I was a grad student the faculty had trouble recruiting a professor they wanted because his partner was not assured rights if he came -- passing prop 8 really would hurt CA.

65:

Hmm, probably not in California (it's a safe seat), but sometimes propositions like these are an attempt to manipulate voter turn-out.

66:

It's all well and good for some people if these measures pass. I suspect, however, that this is not their primary purpose. What they are, essentially, is red meat to motivate 'the base' to make an appearance come election day.

A base which, moreover, seems to have become increasingly dispirited of late. It's taking stronger and stronger medicine making to conjure them up when they are needed.

67:

using anti-gay rights amendments to spur turnout is so 2004, most of the states where that was likely to work did it then

this is a sincere effort by believers in faeries in the sky to overcome the decision by the CA supreme court striking down prop 22 (prop 22 passed in 2000 w/ over 60% in favor of passing a statute, not constitutional amendment, to define marriage as being btwn man/woman -- when prop 8 was first polled I think it was close to 60% against -- an amazing change for only 8 years -- but then the Mormans and other reactionaries got riled up and now it's touch and go -- still the argument the CA Supreme Court made in striking down Prop 22 was pretty sweeping about human rights -- and hopefully could be used against prop 8).


68:

Thank you. It's too late to influence me personally; I decided to vote against Proposition 8 the day it got on the ballot, and I've stopped by the local No on 8 HQ several times to make small donations. But I hope you'll influence other people.

This one is much closer than I like to think about; it's particularly appalling that the first Fields poll showed a monotonic increase in support from young to old voters, but after the first pro-8 commercial came out, a whole bunch of younger voters changed their minds (or their emotional reactions), and now the latest poll shows equal support and opposition percentages from the 18-30 bracket up to the 50-65 bracket (my own), with a sharp jump in support for people over 65. It looks as if the big historical discontinuity is, once again, the baby boomers. I wonder if this is a result of the influence of Kinsey, or of television and the mass media, or of the different post-WWII childraising styles, or what?

It looks as if several northeastern states are trembling on the edge of legalizing same-sex marriage—in at least one or two cases, by legislative act rather than court decision. If they do, and California goes the other way, we'll deserve to be deeply embarrassed when we change back in a decade or so. On the other hand, if we go the wrong way and derail their movement, embarrassment won't be adequate.

69:

Well, yes, and they'll keep doing it until something that gets more bang for the buck comes along. That the strategy has become less effective as time goes by isn't really argument not to keep using it; what else have they got?

Vote for more tax cuts for the top one-half of one percent income earners? 'Cause we all know that's the best way to help the workin' man :-) _That_ is what is so 2004, back in the day when money was cheap and Greenspan bestrode the world like a Colossus.

No, the only strategy these sidewinders have, pitiable as it is, is to turn out the base. The fact that the base is stark, staring crazy is the only thing that makes the strategy work in the first place, the only thing that ever did make it work.

70:

Is it just me - but does anyone else find it, well, a bit creepy that these religious types are so concerned about where people put thier sexual organs?

I've gone from rage at homophobic bigots, to finding them funny and sad. I mean, these people are seriously concerned and (allegedly) upset about what consenting adults are doing together.

I don't want to downgrade the pain, hate, fear and lies these people generate and propagate, and that needs stamping on hard.

But one question I would love to ask these people is "Why are you so interested in other people's sex lives? Are you some kind of pervert?"

OK, unrealistic since all that would generate is a rote-learnt screaming wall of hate. But why do the Pope and OSD care where people put thier penesis (or whatever)? (penii? feh too late at night).

Anyway - admittedly the whole thing has more to do with the seizing of political power and control of government. They could have achieved the same effect with introducing Sunday trading laws, but homosexuals are an easier target and come with a built in bigot-base.

But these people deserve to be mocked with extreme mockery for what they have hung thier religious campaign from.

71:

DAWG @62 Amendment 48 itself only defines 'Personhood' along evangelical lines, but you can be sure that it will lead to many lawsuits trying to take away a woman's choice and potentially ban birth control (which has been one reason to vote against it.
http://www.protectfamiliesprotectchoices.org)

While I was trying to make a sensible comment earlier, Palin was on the local news speaking at our airport (COS) along with Hank Williams Jr(for some reason), Yee Ha!

Palin, Focus on the Family (based here, along with many other evangelical groups), etc., almost make me wish they'd hurry up and get Raptured, and leave the rest of us in peace.

72:

There is also a chance that if prop 8 passes the courts will outlaw the "recognition of marriage" by the state. They allowed same-gender marriage because of the equal protection clause (everyone needs to be treated equally). Prop 8 doesn't change the equal protection clause, so if same sex marriage is outlawed, the consistent conclusion is to outlaw all marriage.

http://joedecker.livejournal.com/1087481.html has a longer description.

73:

@70 I have recently viewed some of the videos from the beyond belief conference. One in particular from Jonathan Haidt, I found very interesting on precisely your question. Why do people hold these views, why are they so interested in the sex lives of others? This is a high level overview of some of the research in this area and is about 20 minutes long. I can recommend it, as it certainly sparked an interest in me to find out more about this research. The link is http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/beyond-belief-candles-in-the-dark/jonathan-haidt-1

74:

@73 Thanks a lot for that Nick - that site is now bookmarked and I'll be back to watch the whole thing when I'm more awake! (And it looks like a site I'll be keeping an eye on).

As I alluded to in my post. I'm fully aware that such groups have reasons for propagating such beliefs and extending them (primarily political). What I was trying to get across in my sleep-addled way is that the way they are doing it really does lay them open to ridicule when you get down to it.

Ridicule along the lines of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0kJHQpvgB8

(It's from Monty Python's Meaning of Life)

There is just not enough mockery of idiots in the world. I know it's not PC, but the US elections seems to have brought a whole smorgsbrd of nut-jobs out of the woodwork. For some reason they seem to mostly support McCain...........

75:

Andy W: the term you're looking for is two wetsuit syndrome.

(It's sad, actually: if he'd been out of the closet and involved in the BDSM scene he probably wouldn't have died.)

77:

I just followed that Esquire link.

Ow, I think I sprained my head-meat ...

(Not that I expected logic or c*mm*n s*ns* from that type, but still ...!)

78:

Ewww........too early in the day for that! (Ewww at the death and hypocracy of it. And the state the body must have been in.)

And that (although that Esquire article seems to be doing the rounds).

The world seems to be descending into irony!

79:

Is that Esquire article perhaps a case of life imitating art?

80:

As for the matter of extending the concept of 'personhood' to fetuses (fetii?), that - if enforced - could lead to at least a couple interesting legal situations, viz:
Women suing their own fetuses for damaging their health; and pregnant prisoners suing to have habeus corpus applied to their innocent fetuses.

Fun, fun, fun!

81:

Martin @ 48: ""Blacks shall not be allowed to drive" is bigoted. "Children shall not be allowed to drive" is not."

Hmmm ... I think Charlie's rule of thumb works here too. If someone is physically and mentally capable of safely operating a motor vehicle, and can pass a driving examination, an arbitrary age limit restricts them for no valid reason.

Admittedly, the number of 5-year-olds able to see over the steering wheel would be near zero, but an equitable system would at least give them the opportunity to apply for a driver's license and be rejected solely on the basis of ability.

82:

@Charlie@29:

Thank you. So much. I am sending anime-style flying tackle-hugs in your direction.

83:

Penes. Many humans have one penis, but few or one have two penes. Snakes, on the other hand, have two hemipenes, and that's the standard term. . . .

84:

Charlie, Obama as a conservative? I thought you opposed Orwellian use of language :)

I fully appreciate the visible spectrum is wider outside the States, and I'll grant you he is not a Trotskyist, but common. Might as well argue that anyone who is running for office (as opposed to supporting armed struggle) is a conservative, because they are for supporting status quo at some level.

85:

@84

Obama is a dyed in the wool right leaning centrist. There's a group that's worked out a 2 axis political map (economic policy vs authoritarian tendencies). Their estimate of current US political figures is here: http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2008

Examples of liberals in the US are Dennis Kuscinich or Ralph Nader.

86:

I consider myself reasonably left politically, but I couldn't support Kucinich or Nader because of their strongly anti-nuclear-power views...

87:

Sorry, Daine@85, knowing something about marketing, I do not find that particularly persuasive. I can come up with chart that put lots of different things in lots of quadrants. It doesn't make it so.

88:

@87

The political compass plots puts Kucinich at about the same position on their political spectrum as most green parties.

I know for the 2004 elections a large number of the US Green party members supported Kucinich. (Going as far as re-registering Democrat to vote for him in the primaries).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Kucinich#2008_Presidential_campaign

lists his positions on a variety of issues.

I also find that greens can agree with libertarians on social issues (both groups are anti-authoritarian) and green parties in power tend to form coalitions with socialists (both favoring collectivist economics).

I find the political compass a better model than the single axis model that focuses on economics. There of course are other axes that the political compass model doesn't capture, like views on technology.

89:

Incidentally, I just blogged about who I would vote for, were I voting in this election. On a delay line so it'll show up after polling closes.

90:

Actually, I don't think the U.S. government, its states' governments, nor any government for that matter have the right to disallow legal marriages contracted elsewhere. In fact, I believe that principle is recognized somewhere by treaty -- Treaty of Tripoli, perhaps?

91:

On that note, Charlie: are you aware that your RSS feed is about 2 days behinds the website?

92:

Chris: No. (I don't explicitly support RSS. Don't use it, can't be arsed maintaining it.)

UPDATE: looks like it's working fine to me. Are you using an aggregator site? If so, it may be b0rked ...

93:
Speaking for myself, I find McCain worrying and Palin absolutely terrifying. McCain represents more of Bush, with Palin waiting to take Bushism to its logical conclusion if and when McCain's cancer catches up with him: she's a very nasty piece of work.

If those two end up in charge, my fear is that the role of science in the English-speaking nations will be completely devalued, reduced to a neo-Lysenkoist propaganda tool in the service of religious zealotry. A new dark age, in other words. It goes far beyond the legislated injustices and persecution of gays, atheists, and others, bad though that will be: with political patronage, the Intelligent Design numpties are capable of irreparably damaging the western scientific enterprise, just at the time when we most desperately need its unbiased insights.

It seems like Depleted Cranium (who you referenced earlier on the subject of environmentalist ideology) is in strong disagreement...

94:

I don't know about the rest of the US, but in Colorado there are 16 Presidential Candidates on the ballot, including 3 different Socialist parties.

95:

Charlie, I'm using a local client, and this post had 50-odd comments by the time it showed up. Possibly a caching problem with my ISP, now that I think about it.

96:

One last thing -promise.
Had nightmare visions last night of President Palin using Marine 1 to hunt ponies on Assateague Island.

97:

George @93: given a choice between (a nuclear program, AND, torture camps) and (no expanded nuclear program, AND, closing the torture camps), I'll take the second option, thanks.

There's no such thing as a perfectly good candidate, but there is such a thing as a diabolically bad one. Personally, I think the highest priority in any election is preserving the western liberal enlightenment and the democratic framework.

98:

One of the local superstitions says Obama will win. The rule goes that if the Redskins win the last home game before the election, the incumbent (or his party) will win. The Redskins were apparently bashed last night, so that superstition goes for Obama.

99:

Charlie @97, elections don't happen in a vacuum. Obama's election, should it materialize, would have been impossible without the last eight years. Similarly, had Gore gotten the presidency in 2000, and then 9/11 had happened, the McCain would have been president now, and the Democrats would have no shot at the presidency for another generation.

100:

Charlie @97: "Personally, I think the highest priority in any election is preserving the western liberal enlightenment and the democratic framework." Yes, and this is why your writing's compatible enough with libertarianism for you to get nominated for the Prometheus Award. Those are my highest priorities too, at least if by "democratic framework" you mean not "majority rule" tout court, but include "protection of individual and minority rights by an independent judiciary." Disagreement on means doesn't preclude agreement on goals.

101:

I agree completely. All persons, regardless of race, creed, color, or orientation, should have the right to experience a divorce. ;-)

102:

Voted no[8], voted often, and voted tonight. Sorted!
No aid or comfort to bigots from this little black duck, TYVM.

Chris, proud owner of stub 134 E/S PCT 2408 702503 [1]
____
[1] Yes, the county in which everything gets electronicised has reinstated the paper ballot. The sanity which this decision reaffirms[2] has me at a loss for words.

[2] Diebold, if you’re reading this: bite me. P-t-t-th-b-b-p!

[8] Your marriage? NOMFB, but I wish you well.

103:

It's 11:15 PM on the east coast of the US.
This election. This is who we *really* are.

104:

Wow. Never thought I'd see the day...As for prop 8, it's currently leading by a 5 point margin with 25 percent of the vote in.

105:

JamesPadraicR@57:
As a Colorado resident, I got to cast both a 'swing state' vote and shoot down Prop 48, which would make the pill as well as natural occurrences of loosing a baby equivalent to neglect/child abuse and/or manslaughter/murder. It looks to be loosing, because its massive BS. Thankfully, people are smarter than they're told they are it appears.

I also got to vote for Obama/Biden.
I do have to agree with Charlie that Obama is more of a centrist, speaking from a truly 'broad' political spectrum point of view. My exception to that is that, of course, the political spectrum depends on your point of view. Conservative, I think, depends on what topic you're taking him. Overall, I would agree that he is more of a centrist.

To be quite honest: saying certain things in American Politics is suicide. Obama walked the line a few times, and I admire his bravery and have ever since I saw him in Oakland at the beginning of his campaign for the Democratic party nomination. I am not an unabashed fan - he's flipped a bit on a number of issues. But the lesser of two evils is definitely good, good news for some of us who were otherwise planning long, LONG Canadian 'vacations'.

106:

It's now almost midnight Pacific Standard Time (GMT-8), and I'm staying up for a few minutes more to celebrate the election of Barack Obama. Yes, he's about dead-center for current US politics, which taking into account the way the Republicans have been dragging the Overton Window right for the last 30 years makes him right of center for the US of 50 years ago. But he's still a far better chance to correct some of our recent mistakes than the other guy.

Sad to say, Proposition 8 is currently passing with about a 4 percentage-point spread, nearly half the votes counted as of now. But if I'm reading Daily Kos' map correctly, less than half the vote has been counted in several major counties which are likely to be strongly against Prop 8: Contra Costa, Alameda, and Santa Clara in the San Francisco Bay region, and Los Angeles County. So there's still a chance. I'd stay up and watch, but I have to go build virtual machines tomorrow, so I need to get some sleep.

107:

Even a narrow margin win of Prop 8 scares me. With Obama now centre stage, the (religious) right will use it to develop tactics on a piece-by-piece basis.

108:

"It seems like Depleted Cranium (who you referenced earlier on the subject of environmentalist ideology) is in strong disagreement..."

Yeah well, I like a good rant as much as the next man - but the dogwhistle reference to Dealy Plaza at the end there stepped *well* over the mark. There are enough crazies out there already without that sort of tacit encouragement thankyouverymuch.

Regards
Luke

109:

Further to my last, scanning down the comments thread of that post at Depleted Cranium, you get to this gem at #10:

"Maybe we’ll get an Oswald to help things out.. we can only hope."

Fuck. That. Shit.

Regards
Luke

110:

That's the thing - I think Depleted Cranium was fighting the good fight on nuclear energy, but I don't like the fact that he's a superhawk on a par with SM Stirling.

111:

It seems he is mostly barking mad, now. What with the "Obama is a complete Socialist and will run this greatest ever of countries into the ground" 'tude. *sigh*

112:

Another snotty European with an axe to grind against America. Seems you guys always forget who bailed your asses out again and again throughout history. If not for us, you'd be writing your blog in German or Russian.

It's easy for Europeans to line up America in their gun sites and blast away - but we never return the favor because we're too busy running the world to worry about some pissant backwater populated by ugly, snaggle toothed poofters who drink warm beer.

113:

At 6:43am pacific time, prop 8 is still undecided but likely to win. A definite spoiler for such a momentous presidential selection. If it does win, it will head for the courts to decide on its constitutionality.

114:

Val @80 mentioned some interesting suits that could come about because the the "personhood" thing.

It reminded me of the slightly weird situation in Oz a few years ago where a severely disabled person initiated a 'wrongful life' suit.

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/02/1083436478926.html

115:

TreeBread @112 is upset that he and his descendants didn't get to wear swastikas.

116:

TreeBread: yadda yadda yadda. Fuck off, and don't let the doorknob hit you on the ass.

(This is the polite version. Just fuck off, why don't you?)

117:

Are you sure that space colonization is completely impractical? I'd really like to put six to twelve months of travel time between me and 52% of Californian voters.

118:

Your test of substituting race or religion for the category in question is an interesting and not entirely bad one, but doesn't actually comport with our 14th am. jurisprudence. We scrutinize such laws differently depending on the nature of the classification. Race related laws are subject to "strict scrutiny". Sex would get the lesser "intermediate scrutiny". While these don't necessarily make sense on their own, it is relatively clear that not all categories are equal: discrimination based on political beliefs, or obesity, or your driving record, is clearly not the same as discrimination based on an immutable characteristic such as race (although apparently these days race is self-identified (to avoid the problem of trying to define, for example, what "black" is)).

Anyway, my point is that while I find your test appealing, I'm not sure it is universally applicable.

119:

As a Californian, I am devastated that this piece of bigoted trash has passed. This is a day we will look back on as Americans with shame.

120:

d: it's not a test for legality, it's a test for morality.

And yes, there are grey areas. But I believe any limit on individual liberty ought to be imposed only as part of a trade-off. In the case of banning children from driving, the trade-off is freedom from fear of being run over down by twelve year olds in Hummers -- a freedom which those twelve year olds also enjoy. In the case of banning same-sex couples from marrying, I don't see any upside. Unless you believe that someone else's marriage actually harms you. That way lies magical thinking.

121:

"At 6:43am pacific time, prop 8 is still undecided but likely to win. A definite spoiler for such a momentous presidential selection. If it does win, it will head for the courts to decide on its constitutionality."

Prop 8 is a state constitutional amendment so it won't be overturned by California courts. I think it is ridiculous to suggest that the US supreme court would now decide that state constitutions cannot prevent gay marriage at this time.

The only question I can see for the courts is that of the existing 17,000 or so gay marriages in California. Maybe they could survive?

Really the fastest way of changing this is probably another initiative constitutional amendment in California in a few years, after some more anti-gay bigots die of old age.

Barring that if Obama makes a couple supreme court appointments, maybe the US supreme court could do it as they did interracial marriage. However, from some brief research, it looks like interracial marriage was legal in about half the states when the supreme court decided the other half could no longer discriminate in that way. We are far from that state of affairs today. Massachussets and Connecticut being the only states that allow it.

122:

If not for us, you'd be writing your blog in German or Russian.

If not for us (Europeans), you'd be an Native American Indian (an improvement, I know).

123:

Luke @ 109:

I would be deeply offended if someone assassinated Obama. Amongst other things, he appears to be a decent human being, he has a young family, and, well, assassination is wrong.

That said, his assassination would be a _disaster_ for the repubs.

124:

d @ 118: Is "immutable characteristic" defined by law? Implying that currently race is immutable, but orientation is not? Waiting for a gay gene now, are we. Hmm. I wonder if there is one.

125:

goblinbox @124, so far all the evidence is that orientation happens in the womb, although there's not much info on what might cause a particular orientation. As much as I like science, I sort of hope they don't find out because too many fetuses would be aborted when the parents didn't like the orientation.

126:

There are (at least) three lawsuits against Prop 8: Attorney Gloria Allred and her clients, Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, the ACLU, Lambda Legal and NCLR, & the counties of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Clara. A friend has said that one of the ruling courts is the same one that ruled for gay marriage most recently, but I have no cite there. There's a good chance Prop 8 is just dead in the water.

127:

Prop 8 passing was a sad day. On the same day as an African-American got elected to President, gays got told to sit at the back of the bus.

128:

It's simpler than you make it out to be, Charlie. The English word "marriage" means "the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife" (COED). It does not mean the union of two men, for whatever purpose.

It is unreasonable and annoying for homosexuals to appropriate perfectly normal, useful words this way. (Which is why I say "homosexual" rather than "gay"). If they wish to form lifelong unions, let them do so by all means. If they wish to copy the forms of marriage, fine. Just don't call it "marriage" - because it isn't.

129:

It sounds like someone here believes that there is a Platonic ideal of "marriage" that lives somewhere out in wave-function functional space and which backs (what-is-now-)conventional marriage and which can't back a similar arrangement between two individuals of the same sex, regardless of how close they may be in their "accidental" properties. I'm sorry, but as I don't wish to be wrong about just about everything, I can't hold with those ideals.

LRC circuits within well-defined limits and pendula near equilibrium behave similarly, and so both can be called "damped oscillators". Apparats with mechanical innards in and the little text near the bottom of my screen are both "clocks".

Dictionaries as such have no legal standing (if their definitions become parts of opinions, well...or tomatoes can be ruled a "vegetable" if need be), and I hope they have no moral or ethical standing.

My straight marriage (relatively equal, I hope, and companionate) is closer to a similar, gay marriage I know of than it is to my grandparents' arranged, hierarchical, arrangement. Theirs, in turn, was closer to mine than to one between sex-fearing religious fanatics a few centuries back, who knew that it were better to marry than to burn but that they really _shouldn't_ wish to do.

Maybe I was just born without the gene that makes one concerned about what other people do willingly for sex or love; this wasn't a lifestyle choice....

130:

Tom @128: firstly, your linguistic definition of marriage is wrong. You pulled it out of your arse, having first carefully constructed it to exclude other forms of marriage that have prevailed in other cultures and times where polygamous or polyandrous marriages were considered both normal and legal. Be ashamed!

Secondly, linguistic niceties aside -- the problem with your argument is that it ignores the very real human consequences. Marriage is a protected status that comes with certain legal protections and rights, in our legal systems. These rights are not available to other types of relationship. If those rights are not extended to persons in non-standard relationships, then from their point of view this constitutes active and harmful discrimination (and justifiably so). As a case in point, consider spousal healthcare benefits in the deplorably bad American health insurance system. Or the inheritance situation with respect to a shared domicile. (Married couple: one partner dies, the other gets the house and the shared property, no strings attached. Unmarried couple: one partner dies, the other gets a gigantic inheritance tax bill for their share of the house.)

131:

i agree. and for the record i voted no against prop 8, quite proudly. and was f***ing pissed when it passed. i do believe that the people who voted yes on prop 8 are bigots. but i can see one flaw immediately with your argument.

"you are willing to vote for a measure that will destroy existing marriages, and you will refuse to honour marriage contracts acknowledged elsewhere in the world."

i know it's weird, but there are some countries that allow marriages between humans and animals.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4748292.stm

also, in some cultures, 70 yr old men are allowed to marry girls as young as 10.

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1§ion=0&article=115774&d=25&m=10&y=2008

i really don't know what to think. i might be considered a bigot for thinking that beastiality is weird and wrong. i also might be considered too "conservative" because i think that a girl should be of a somewhat-mature, consenting age (i qualify that because i personally think that even 18 is too young for most people to responsibly marry, but i would never vote to up that age limit) before she is even allowed to marry.i want to be open minded in both cases, but i find it hard to do so.

but even having said this, im still f***ing pissed at 52% of californians...

132:

Jeff: What I would say about myself, possessed of similar views, is that I am a strong partisan of The Enlightenment, which is of course parent to many threads in our culture, good (viz sub) and bad (see: contempt for the un-Enlightened, beilief in rule by the Enlightened), but which I think an unalloyed good in its emphasis on the freedom of adult human beings to make the arrangements with each other that seem most suitable to each. This is a natural consequence of rejecting the idea that pre-existing arrangements templates were created by superior beings (gods, enlightened ancestors, friendly E.T.s).

Tangent:
Some enlightenment conservatives have sophisticated-up this sort of argument-from-authority by making the evolutionary process in morals and manners the authority in question; this has a lot to it, but falls down in failing to recognise that

  • 0.) evolution is not inherently progressive, cares naught for individuals, produces a multitude of sports and hopeless monsters, u.s.w., and
  • 1.) circumstances alter cases, making yesterday's optimal solution potentially not such today
  • ---e.g. for the latter, contraception, just as the Church warned, decouples [huh-huh, huh-huh] marriage from reproduction, industrialisation and post-~ make it harder to assign "natural" roles to the sexes...all of which make the range of likely arrangements among straight people tend to more overlap those likely between gay people of the same sex. This in turn means that anyone attacking the right of gay couples to marry is also attacking the right of many straight couples to marry.

    Long tangent...anyway, if the ability of adults to make informed choices about their own lives is paramount---as opposed to ritual purity or Preservation of the Volk---then being against child bridalling and bestial unions falls out as easily from these values as does gay marriage, as neither's principals are both capable of giving consent. Being social democrat, I would add that trying to make as many people as rich and healthy as possible. whether they've earned it (like Richard Mellon Scaife) or not (like that woman who sewed the shirt you're wearing, and mine as well), simply because people not fearing for their lives or health are more capable of making real choices.

    (I must thank some fundie preacher I once heard talking about the difference between "natural" values [those formed without the notional interference of one Holy Spirit or another, and so resting on ideas of being nice to each other, avoiding inflicting pain, and the like] and godly values---he made a set of arguments for a few things of which I'm in favour, and ended up by saying that they '...would all make perfect sense if it weren't for what we know from the Bible,'---who says I can't agree with a pritcher? See also: the Discovery Institute's attack on "naturalism" in science, explicitly spelled-out e.g. here.)

    Blame me, but also blame the insomnia and the tea---the insomnia came first.

    133:

    Jeff: What I would say about myself, possessed of similar views on besitality and child-brides, is that I am a strong partisan of The Enlightenment, which is of course parent to many threads in our culture, good (viz sub) and bad (see: contempt for the un-Enlightened, beilief in rule by the Enlightened), but which I think an unalloyed good in its emphasis on the freedom of adult human beings to make the arrangements with each other that seem most suitable to each. This is a natural consequence of rejecting the idea that pre-existing arrangements templates were created by superior beings (gods, enlightened ancestors, friendly E.T.s).

    Tangent:
    Some enlightenment conservatives have sophisticated-up this sort of argument-from-authority by making the evolutionary process in morals and manners the authority in question; this has a lot to it, but falls down in failing to recognise that

  • 0.) evolution is not inherently progressive, cares naught for individuals, produces a multitude of sports and hopeless monsters, u.s.w., and
  • 1.) circumstances alter cases, making yesterday's optimal solution potentially not such today
  • ---e.g. for the latter, contraception, just as the Church warned, decouples [huh-huh, huh-huh] marriage from reproduction, industrialisation and post-~ make it harder to assign "natural" roles to the sexes...all of which make the range of likely arrangements among straight people tend to more overlap those likely between gay people of the same sex. This in turn means that anyone attacking the right of gay couples to marry is also attacking the right of many straight couples to marry.

    Long tangent...anyway, if the ability of adults to make informed choices about their own lives is paramount---as opposed to ritual purity or Preservation of the Volk---then being against child bridalling and bestial unions falls out as easily from these values as does gay marriage, as neither's principals are both capable of giving consent. Being social democrat, I would add that trying to make as many people as rich and healthy as possible. whether they've earned it (like Richard Mellon Scaife) or not (like that woman who sewed the shirt you're wearing, and mine as well), simply because people not fearing for their lives or health are more capable of making real choices.

    (I must thank some fundie preacher I once heard talking about the difference between "natural" values [those formed without the notional interference of one Holy Spirit or another, and so resting on ideas of being nice to each other, avoiding inflicting pain, and the like] and godly values---he made a set of arguments for a few things of which I'm in favour, and ended up by saying that they '...would all make perfect sense if it weren't for what we know from the Bible,'---who says I can't agree with a pritcher? See also: the Discovery Institute's attack on "naturalism" in science, explicitly spelled-out e.g. here.)

    (Blame me for the length of this, but also blame the insomnia and the tea---the insomnia came first.)

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