CNS – Proposition 8, which would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to wed, was the topic of a public hearing October 2 in Los Angeles, with supporters maintaining the measure protects children and opponents saying it violates equality and privacy rights. Proposition 8 would amend the state constitution to say “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Eight years ago, California voters approved Proposition 22, which specified in state law that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid and recognized in California.
In May, the state Supreme Court ruled that limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.
“The text of Proposition 8 contains only 14 words. However, despite the brevity, the failure or passage of Proposition 8 will have a significant impact on the future of marriage in California,” said Sen. Ellen Corbett, D- San Leandro, who chaired the joint hearing of the Senate and Assembly Judiciary committees.
Supporters of Prop 8 told the committees that marriage between a man and a woman is designed to benefit children, who have a right to a relationship with their biological parents.
“Every child has parents and every child has a legitimate interest in having a relationship with both of his parents. Children have a right to know and be known by both parents. Children have a right to their genetic and social heritage,” said Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of The Ruth Institute, which promotes marriage as a “gender-based social institution.”
Same-sex marriage would also imply that the state of California believes men and women are interchangeable as mothers or fathers, according to Morse, who, according to her bio, is an author and former economics instructor at Yale University.
“A gay man’s insistence on a male sexual partner shows that he does not regard men and women as perfect substitutes, Morse said.
“Even a very masculine woman is not a substitute for the male partner that the gay man desires. Gender is relevant to the gay community. The state of California has no business claiming without proof that gender is irrelevant to children.”
Proposition 8 opponents say the initiative is discriminatory and violates equality and privacy rights guaranteed by the state constitution.
“It is an effort to eliminate the fundamental rights of a specific group of people,” said John Perez, who described himself as a community organizer and was one of two speakers chosen to speak about their opposition to the measure.
“What Proposition 8 proposes to do is to enshrine discrimination into the constitution of California,” he said.
“It is not about the individual acts of people denying somebody rights. It is about fundamentally changing the constitution of the state of California to take away rights from a whole group of people.”
The former president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays told the committee that his daughter, who is a lesbian, should have the same legal rights as her parents.
“In 46 years, a great deal of love has flowed back and forth between my wife and myself,” said Samuel Thoron, who appears in a No on Prop 8 ad with his wife, Julia.
“Our daughter Liz and Lisa, her partner, have in my view exactly the same kind of love—enduring, powerful, fulfilling and surely is worthy of the same honor that ours has.”
Goodwin Liu, a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law, testified on Prop 8’s legal implications. If the measure is approved, it is not clear what will happen to the same-sex couples who lawfully wed between June and November. Liu said courts typically do not favor retroactive application of the law unless it is clearly stated in the law or ballot language.
“Nothing in the text of Prop 8, nothing in the voter information guide and nothing in the background of the measure so far indicates that Prop 8 is intended to apply retroactively,” Liu said.