We Abide By Many Different Sets of Laws – A Piece on California’s Proposition 8

Proposition 8.jpgProposition 8 – Right versus Wrong

Before we begin to debate the rightness or wrongness of any law of the state (as opposed to spiritual laws, or natural laws, or laws of physics), we must keep in mind at least one fundamental notion:

  • The state’s laws exist, on some level, to meet one basic requirement; to maintain a civil society and keep social order. The law’s enactment and adherence to it should at least promote behavior that minimizes the risk of chaos and anarchy.

I hear lots of people say that they really “feel” that marriage should be between a man and a woman. There isn’t anything wrong with having that feeling except when you try to impose your feeling on to some else.

Whenever I hear arguments, for or against Prop 8, that are prefaced with “I really feel,” I’m reminded of the Southern slaveholders who really “felt” that the best life for blacks was a life of bondage. I’d bet that many of them truly “felt,” in their heart of hearts, that their vision of how blacks should be treated was infallibly correct, so therefore the laws supporting slavery were “right.”

I’m not being facetious. I’m trying to make the point that one’s personal “feelings” aren’t particularly relevant when determining what guidelines we, as a state, adopt to maintain a civil society.

We have a system of government that, while imperfect, is the best we know of at this point. It must balance the needs of all of the many diverse groups that call this state home. It was intentional that there be a separation of church and state so as not to unfairly burden anyone with someone else’s religious mores — as well as for other reasons. By the same token, the system promotes laws that protect everyone.

This does not mean that the laws of the church are invalid. It simply means that individuals choose, of their own volition, to practice whatever religion they prefer. The state has no hand in that.

I guess the bottom line for me is that the state’s laws cannot and should not serve as the only laws we follow. We have our own moral compasses, our own set of rules documented in the holy scriptures or wherever you go to seek guidance in life.

One of my many pet peeves throughout this Prop 8 debate is that those who support it use the Bible to buttress their argument, but the current California State Supreme Court decision does not give same sex couples the right to a religious marriage. The current law gives them the right to a civil ceremony, which involves entering into a marital contract with all the obligations and privileges this legal device provides.

This used to be the exclusive realm of heterosexuals, but the California Supreme Court was right, if its goal was to do what was in the best interest of all the people.

sharon-kyle.gifI don’t want to close this essay without saying that personal feelings are important and we shouldn’t discount them. I like what Wanda Sykes says on this topic. I can’t quote her verbatim but, paraphrased, she said — If you feel same sex marriage is wrong, don’t marry someone of the same sex. It’s just that simple.

by Sharon Kyle
Publisher, LA Progressive.

Articles by Sharon Kyle

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Comments

  1. Su says

    Well said indeed. They’re entitled to their beliefs, but they’re not entitled to MY beliefs too.

    But throughout history, religious people have felt compelled to spread their personal beliefs around. I can understand the sentiment behind ‘hey, come check out my church, maybe you’ll like it,’ but I can’t understand this compulsion to force everyone else to adhere to your personal beliefs.

    It’s like getting a tattoo on the back of your hand instead of in a place that would be covered by an evening gown.

  2. Lois H. says

    Well said! Thanks, Sharon. I am very upset and saddened by the news I heard yesterday about the LDS (Mormon) Church Being one of the largest donors to help get CA Proposition 8 passed, the bill that would amend California’s constitution to forever disallow Gay Civil Marriages in MY STATE. As a member of this church, I have decided to disassociate myself from it, not only because of this action but by many instances of discrimination I have witnessed over the years (i.e. African-American men not being able to hold the highest priesthood position in the church and women not being able to hold the priesthood at all). Mormons allow only the most perfect members of their church to be married in their temples, and only these marriages are “for time and all eternity”. This very political activity, represented by donating a large sum of money to pass this proposition, should cause the LDS Church’s tax exempt status to be revoked. Churches that become involved in the political process should pay their fair share of taxes because they are no longer “separate”. There is a very good reason why the wise founders of our Republic made a rule to “separate church and state”. NO ONE SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO FORCE THEIR BELIEFS ON THE REST OF SOCIETY. TODAY I WEEP.

    • Sharon Kyle says

      Lois,

      I am sorry the church’s action’a lead you to leave. I understand. At one point in my life, I was very involved in a church who preached a message that seemed inconsistent with their actions so I left. There are progressive people of faith. Perhaps you can find such a group by doing a Google search. That’s how I found the church I currently attend.

      Sharon

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