California’s Proposition 8 Affects Families

Back in December, I wrote a blog related the affect Proposition 8 has on gay and lesbian families.

Regardless of your political affiliation, there is no denying that this past November’s election was historic. For the first time in our nation’s history, we had the choice of voting for an African-American presidential candidate and a female vice-presidential candidate. Future will tell if we made the right decision – I shall refrain from inserting my political opinion here!

Yet, in California, we faced an equally historic and hotly debated issue. For the first time in our state’s history Californians were asked to vote on a proposition that would amend our constitution and define marriage between a man and a woman. The proponents of proposition 8 argued that marriage has always been between a man and a woman, and thus it should remain that way. They insisted that marriage was a religious ceremony that dates back several centuries. The opposition argued that marriage was not about religion. Marriage, or the laws that protect those in a marriage, is a civil right, one that does not require a religious ceremony. In fact, many marriages are officiated not by a priest or religious figurehead, but by a justice of the peace. So who was right? Well, apparently 52% of the voting population decided that California’s constitution should be amended to reflect the new definition.

While California’s Supreme Court evaluates the constitutionality of this amendment, I wonder if those who voted in favor of proposition 8 truly understood the impact such a proposition would have on families of same-sex couples. Granted, California’s domestic partnership laws protect same-sex couples, but not in the same way a marriage does. Marriage Equality USA ( lists the many differences between domestic partnerships and marriage on their “Get The Facts – Why Marriage” page. While many of the differences are practical (e.g., hospital visitation rights, employer benefits, spousal elder care, legal rights when a relationship ends) and financial (e.g., home ownership, laws protecting marital home from creditors, disability and social security benefits, IRS laws, home owner’s and insurance benefits), some of the differences affect children of same-sex couples. I think the most profound difference relates to our societies ability to build a “strong family and [raise] healthy children.” As Marriage Equality points out,

”Public policies that aim to promote family stability and security typically are established without consideration for same-gender parents and their children, and they place these families at a disadvantage, as they do heterosexual unmarried parents, single parents, and extended-family caregivers. Public policy designed to promote the family as the basic building block of society has at its core the protection of children’s health and well-being. Children’s well being relies in large part on a complex blend of their own legal rights and the rights derived, under law, from their parents. Children of same-gender parents often experience economic, legal, and familial insecurity as a result of the absence of legal recognition of their bonds to their nonbiological parents. Current public-policy trends, with notable exceptions, favor limiting or prohibiting the availability of civil marriage and limiting rights and protections to same-gender couples.”

If we truly strive to build strong families and raise healthy, happy children, then ask yourself this question. Why should same-sex marriage be illegal? After all, how do their marriages – or mine for that matter – affect yours?

Occasionally, I write family and/or adoption-related blogs for Adoption Under One Roof; I welcome you to post a comment there or here.

2 thoughts on “California’s Proposition 8 Affects Families

  • April 3, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Interracial marriage was finally made legal. Perhaps there is hope that love will truly conquer all –even the bigots in the world. They need education to replace fear. Our society can grow with same sex marriage under its belt. America needs to atleast try the French approach: mandatory marriage in court and optional religious ceremony.
    America claims separation of church and state, let’s see it prove it. Or are Engel v. Vitale and the 1st amendment worth nothing.

  • April 1, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Compare and contrast: Slave rights and gay rights; the contrasts are easy, the comparisons are profound. Slave marriages were not legally honored either. They could not create and sign contracts and what is marriage mostly (legally speaking) but a huge contract with thousands of rights and responsibilities.
    The irony of this situation for conservatives is that studies show that married people are slightly healthier (cost less) and wealthier (pay more taxes) than their single counterparts and this is true for gay people as well. Therefore, it is in the state’s best economic interest to allow marriage equality.

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