Thursday, October 9, 2008

Off Topic but Important - Proposition 8 in California

I've never posted an off topic post before but this one was so important to me that I have to post about it. I haven't seen a place where all the facts and sources about proposition 8 is posted and so I'm going to try to make one here and edit it whenever I come across more facts and sources.
For those that don't know, proposition 8 in California changes the constitution to include the following phrase:

"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California"

At first blush this may seem intolerant because it excludes same sex marriage and shouldn't they have the same rights as everyone else? I'll explain my reasoning below.

From the prop 8 analysis in the California voter information guide: "In March 2000, California voters passed Proposition 22 to specify in state law that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. In May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that the statute enacted by Proposition 22 and other statutes that limit marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. It also held that individuals of the same sex have the right to marry under the California Constitution. As a result of the ruling, marriage between individuals of the same sex is currently valid or recognized in the state." I believe that this decision is more about activist judges and legislating from the bench than actual constitutionality. I'll talk more about that later but I think it is morally wrong to go against items that have been voted on by the California people unless there is a very good reason. I view this type of circumvention of the voice of the people as underhanded and cowardly. Even for principle alone, I think that if people want to change the law to include same sex marriage, they should go to the legislature or to a popular vote. It's incredible to me that we have to vote for the same thing again, we should be voting whether or not to adopt same sex marriage, not whether to re-affirm what we already voted on in 2000.

Here is why I believe this is a case of activist legislation from the bench rather than a valid constitutionality question. Footnote 52 on page 79 of the opinion from the supreme court of California where Proposition 22 is overturned, it reads:

We emphasize that our conclusion that the constitutional right to marry properly must be interpreted to apply to gay individuals and gay couples does not mean that this constitutional right similarly must be understood to extend to polygamous or incestuous relationships. Past judicial decisions explain why our nation’s culture has considered the latter types of relationships inimical to the mutually supportive and healthy family relationships promoted by the constitutional right to marry…. Although the historic disparagement of and discrimination against gay individuals and gay couples clearly is no longer constitutionally permissible, the state continues to have a strong and adequate justification for refusing to officially sanction polygamous or incestuous relationships because of their potentially detrimental effect on a sound family environment…. Thus our conclusion that it is improper to interpret the state constitutional right to marry as inapplicable to gay individuals or couples does not affect the constitutional validity of the existing legal prohibitions against polygamy and the marriage of close relatives.

What follows is data to support the argument that I have that same sex relationships are also "inimical to the mutually supportive and healthy family relationships promoted by the constitutional right to marry."

1) Research shows that contributions from both a mother and a father are significant in the development of children:

"Although it would seem that two-parent families should be able to provide more resources for children, particularly in terms of income and availability of time to spend with children, children from stepparent families often look similar to those from single-parent homes. In comparison to
step-families, cohabiting relationships and foster care appear to be even more deleterious with respect to child outcomes."

Barbara Schneider, Allison Atteberry, and Ann Owens, Family Matters: Family Structure and Child Outcomes (Birmingham AL: Alabama Policy Institute: June 2005)

"More children each year are not living in families that include their own married, biological parents, which by all available empirical evidence is the gold standard for insuring optimal outcomes in a child’s development."
David Popenoe and Barbara Defoe Whitehead, The State of Our Unions 2007: The Social Health of Marriage in America (Piscataway, NJ (Rutgers University) The National Marriage Project, July 2007 pp. 21-25

"Are children more likely to flourish when they are raised by their own married mothers and fathers, or are alternative family forms just as good?"
Maggie Gallagher and Joshua K. Baker, “Do Moms and Dads Matter? Evidence from the Social Sciences on Family Structure and the Best Interests of the Child,” Margins Law Journal 4:161 (2004).

The consequences to a child of fatherlessness:

David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (New York: Basic Books, 1995)
This page has the author's notes on his book:

"The decline of fatherhood is a major force behind many of the most disturbing problems that plague American society: crime; premature sexuality and out-of-wedlock births to teenagers; deteriorating educational achievement; depression, substance abuse and alienation among adolescents; and the growing number of women and children in poverty."
David Popenoe, Life Without Father (New York: Martin Kessler Books, 1996)

2) Extending marriage to include same sex relationships will divorce the two concepts of marriage and family and weaken marriage.

An article by Stanley Kurtz analyzes the consequences of the legalization of same sex marriage in the Netherlands.

Another article by Stanley Kurtz is much more detailed in answering the question of the consequences of extending marriage.
"The separation of marriage from parenthood was increasing; gay marriage has widened the separation. Out-of-wedlock birthrates were rising; gay marriage has added to the factors pushing those rates higher. Instead of encouraging a society-wide return to marriage, Scandinavian gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable."

"What's the Harm? is a valuable resource of diverse insights, arguments, and information that contributes to a deeper understanding of what may be the defining issue of the first decade of the twenty-first century."
Lynne D. Wardle, "What's the Harm?: Does Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Really Harm Individuals, Families or Society?" University Press of America (2008)

I find that I agree with Stanley Kurtz and find his writing quite well formed:
"Does gay marriage undermine heterosexual marriage?"

3) Same sex relationships are shorter term than traditional marriages between a man and a wife.

In Dutch AIDs researchers, published in 2003 in the journal AIDS, reported on the number of partners among Amsterdam’s homosexual population.

They found that the average duration of committed relationships among gay steady partners was 1.5 years. One and a half years does not sound to me like a "mutually supportive and healthy family relationship."

Divorce magazine says the average length of marriage in the US is about 8 years.

Data from the Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census shows that only 29% of relationships last more than 7 years.

The American College of Pediatricians say that "homosexual partnerships are significantly more prone to dissolution than heterosexual marriages with the average homosexual relationship lasting only two to three years."

The Family Research Center has a compilation of some good data. I need to look more at this one, it is data for the United States.

4) Same sex relationships are much more prone to domestic violence:

According to Statistics Canada, Canada's National Statistical Agency, July 7, 2005, "Violence was twice as common among homosexual couples compared with heterosexual couples."

The American College of Pediatricians indicate that the number should be 2-3 times rather than the Canadian 2 times.

5) Same sex relationships are more likely to prematurely end in death of one or both partners due to the very high rate of diseases such as AIDS.

Finally, from he most recent AIDS survey is published by WHO and UN AIDS, unprotected sex between men continues to account for the largest proportion of new HIV infections (45% in 2005 (that's 45% of 2.1 million which is 0.945 million new gay men with new infections in 2005) compared with 42% in 2002) (Boulos et al., 2006). An estimated 37% of new HIV infections in 2005 were attributed to unprotected heterosexual intercourse, with a substantial proportion among people born in countries where HIV is endemic
(mainly sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean).

Since the best estimates put the homosexual population between 2% and 7%, this also means that even in western Europe with a minority of 29% of new infections coming from at best 7% of the population means that the gay men are far and away the most risky group. In the rest of the world (population about 6.45 billion in 2005) where that 2-7% (451 million in 2005) represents the majority means the chance of infection when engaging in completely random homosexual sex is 0.21% for the gay population as opposed to 0.013% for completely random heterosexual sex (200 times more likely).

6) By classifying same sex marriage as a discrimination attribute, my personal rights of freedom of speech and expression are limited.

Hate speech is a type of caveat to the first amendment to the constitution which guarantees free speech. In general, people may speak and write of anything that they wish, however there are some special cases when there is nothing to be gained by speaking of an issue. An example of this is advocating racism - people can not change the color of their skin and there is no hard facts that indicate that any given genealogy is "better" than any other and so racism has been classified as hate speech - promote it and you are subject to imprisonment and fines. Other examples of discrimination points include gender, and age. These are things that can not be changed, they aren't a CHOICE. By granting same sex marriage discrimination status, disagreements can not be put forward. In this case since it is a religious belief of many (including myself), it directly conflicts with another cherished item: the separation of church and state (more about that later.)

There is quite a bit of controversy about whether or not homosexuality is part of genetics or a choice. According to JM Bailey, "Environmental influences play a significant role in the development of gender identity and sexual behavior." (Bailey JM. "Biological perspectives on sexual orientation". In: Garnets LD and Kimmel DC: Psychological perspectives on lesbian, gay, and bisexual experiences. Columbia University Press, New York. 2003)

In regards to hate speech I offer the following link where government employees were prevented from using terms such as "Marriage" and "Family Values" because they were viewed as hate speech. We should be aware of what is happening to the virtues of free speech in our society.

Another example is the case where the Good News Employees Association prevented Joanna Hicks from refuting previous comments concerning the Bible such as "I personally think the good book needs some updating."$File/05-15467.PDF

Jeff Jacoby has a very good article about why gay marriage is not a civil right and why it's different from the civil rights movement.

7) It violates the separation between church and state

In 1819, James Madison, the principal author of the US constitution stated:

"The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State."

In 1773, the Rev. Isaac Backus, the most prominent Baptist minister in New England, observed that when "church and state are separate, the effects are happy, and they do not at all interfere with each other: but where they have been confounded together, no tongue nor pen can fully describe the mischiefs that have ensued."

As described in point 3, free speech is endangered by the inclusion of same sex marriage as a discrimination item. Advocates of same-sex marriage are suggesting that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions. Jonathan Turley, “An Unholy Union: Same-Sex Marriage and the Use of Governmental Programs to Penalize Religious Groups with Unpopular Practices,” in Douglas Laycock, Jr., et al., eds., Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008).

Marc Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Congress who asks, “Can a group – a church or religious charity – that opposes gay marriage keep its tax exemption if gay marriage becomes law?”,0,5628051.story

I believe strongly that moral issues should be preached in churches without fear of repercussions either of the preacher being hauled off to jail or fined or by the church being denied tax exemption status. This is one of the most important points to me.

8) Same sex couples gain no rights under California Law by gaining marriage.
The California domestic partnership law already gives same sex couples all the rights they can possibly have as a couple under the name marriage or not. Sacrificing the above rights to grant someone a new title even a very important group is not a good trade off. As I indicated above, I would gladly trade the title of "married" if it meant giving these rights to a group however small.

9) Homosexuals are 10-25 times more likely to be child molestors.

The number of homosexuals in essentially all surveys is less than 3%. (Statistics Canada found only 1% of the population who described themselves as homosexual.) However, the percentage of homosexuals among pedophiles is 25%. (Blanchard R et al. Fraternal birth order and sexual orientation in pedophiles. Archives of Sexual Behavior 2000; 29: 463-78.) Therefore, the prevalence of pedophilia among homosexuals is about 10-25 times higher than one would expect if the proportion of pedophiles were evenly distributed within the (hetero- and homosexual) populations.

Another more extensive survey was done of lots of other studies. Don't be misled by the typo in the beginning paragraph, it unfortunately claims the opposite of what they are trying to show. I think it was just a mistake in the quote that they make as the rest of the paper makes clear.

10) Same sex marriage would be given at least equal footing in teaching children as young as kindergarten.

Given that same sex marriage has been shown to be damaging to children, I believe that teaching same sex marriage in schools is at best foolhardy, at worst a recipe for disaster. Who in their right mind would teach children how to fail at life? School is specifically a place to learn how to succeed. Teaching about alternate lifestyles that do not lead to stable societal goals is counterproductive. Some argue that if you don't like it, you can abstain from those classes but a recent case in Massachusetts shows that this is not a real option. A father is jailed when he refused to leave a school board meeting until he was given the opportunity to exclude his child from schooling including same sex marriage. (It is instructive to note that the book brought home by his child, "Who's in a Family?" has 2 homosexual couples on the front cover but NO traditional families with a husband and a wife.)

The same groups that are funding no on prop 8 in California are trying to prevent parents in Massachusetts from opting out of homosexual indoctrination.{5627F03A-80C6-4259-8A81-E5D73F237D93}&dist=hppr

11) Businesses and churches would be unable to protect themselves:

MY SISTER-IN-LAW is a wedding photographer and after being photographed in her local newspaper while supporting Proposition 8, was barraged by hate mail and asked to photograph several same sex marriages with the threat that if she did not do it, she would be sued for discrimination even though there were other wedding photographers available at lower rates and in closer areas. A case exactly similar to my sister-in-law's took place already.The story starts with the phrase "Act Three: A Nationwide Story."

The social services arm of the Roman Catholic archdiocese has provided adoption services for the state for about two decades, but said it would discontinue because it was forced to provide adoptions to same sex couples against it's religious views.

Canada February 24, 2000 A professional printer refused to print material for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives because he felt doing so would violate his religious beliefs. He was fined and ordered to print the material anyway. He took his case to the Ontario Supreme Court and then to the Ontario Court of Appeal and lost both times. His total legal bills exceed $170,000.

Canada 2001 An evangelical Christian employed as a prison guard placed an ad in the Saskatchewan Star Phoenix. The ad was a picture of two stick men holding hands, with a red circle with a bar across superimposed on them. Below the picture were four scripture references, but not actual Bible verses. He was convicted of a hate crime by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal. The judge suggested that using Bible verses in a newspaper ad like this could be construed as hate literature. Thus, there is now legal precedent in Canada that the Holy Bible is hate literature.

Additional resources that I liked but didn't fit anywhere in my particular argument structure:

Stanley Kurtz on how same sex marriage is the gateway to polygamy:

A story about a Brussels threesome who want to get married.

An article from Robert Knight the person who helped draft the federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act is quite good.

I found some good information from which also contains quite a bit more supporting evidence.

Stanley Kurtz article:

A very well thought-out and well written article about same sex marriage. Although it is long, I strongly suggest reading it.

Finally a very good discussion concerning same sex marriage from Rick Santorum, Senior Fellow for the Pew Ethics and Public Policy Center and former U.S. Senator

I have often heard the term "Equality" used in connection with Proposition 8 and I think there is a problem using that word. I'll explain. Everyone whether gay or straight is equal under the law. They may all get married whether proposition 8 passes or not. The difference is what marriage means. I may have a cat who I love dearly and enjoy being with but I can not get married to that cat, not because I don't have the right to marry but because that relationship is known as "being a pet owner" not getting married. Gay people may get married, everyone can, it's a right that everyone has. Gay people may not, if proposition 8 is passed, call their relationship with someone of the same sex marriage just as I may not call my relationship with my cat marriage because that's not what it is. It's a civil partnership or in my case, a pet owner (by the way, I have no strong feelings for the cats that I own, I just used it as an example).

If proposition 8 is about tolerance, it's about tolerating people who believe differently from the gay and lesbian activist groups. Tolerance in my mind is about allowing others to choose as they will unless it involves negative consequences for oneself and even then annoyances and negative consequences must be examined to weigh the differences between what is gained on the one hand and what is lost on the other. Losing my right to voice my opinion so that someone can gain the label of "marriage" is not reasonable to me. I would gladly give up the right to be labeled married if it would give another group the right to free speech.

Many of the same points are made by Dr. Laura A. Haynes who is a physiologist in Tustin, California. Her paper is also full of plenty of sources.

Proposition 8 in 14 simple and straight-forward words protects me from all of these negative consequences. I am a strong supporter of proposition 8 because it's the right thing to do. I can't conscience the spilled blood of patriots from the birth of this great nation being spilled in vain, I believe what they fought and died for is still as important today as when they died for it. I believe in the separation of religious and political institutions. I believe in the freedom of speech for all. Without these pillars of our society, we risk disintegration, chaos, and destruction.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Current Status

Well it has been quite some time since I last wrote and many things have happened. Chiefly, I have had significant headaches and when we checked the the spot in my head, it had changed. I went to see a neurosurgeon about it. The spot is very close to the third ventricle which is where your spinal fluid goes and so he hoped to be able to get a clue about what it is by taking some. He took a LOT of CSF (Cerebral Spinal Fluid) in a spinal tap and ran lots of tests on it unfortunately with no results. On one hand, it's good that there aren't cancer cells or infection indicators running around in my spinal column since that would be very bad, but on the other hand, there isn't anything at all so I'm no closer to what it might be. I have another MRI scheduled for later in October. Hopefully that will give some indication about what to do next. It's in a very difficult spot to reach (although he has apparently operated there before) and so we decided not to go in and take a piece of it unless there is a good reason for it. So we will see what happens. In the mean time, I have to deal with the headaches which are pretty consistent. I have started having a headache sometimes over my left ear which is pretty intense at times and pretty extraordinary. I didn't realize until I got that headache that I never had a headache in another place than pretty much the front of my head. Anyway, I'll try to keep things posted.