Martin Luther King once opined after a demonstration circa 1966, "I'm tired of marching for things that should already be mine." This was King's way of illustrating the absurdity of African Americans having to fight for rights that had been guaranteed to the dominant culture since the Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788.
It is with King's frustration in mind that I hope this will be the last column I write on the absurdity of debating same-gender marriage.
I use absurdity as the word choice because the arguments in opposition to same-gender marriage are based on a brand of conjecture that is irrational, incongruous, and at times illogical.
Proposition 8 is on the California ballot for the sole purpose to take away rights already granted to same-gender couples. The argument for Prop.8 is based entirely on the straw man of assumption and propaganda.
If those in opposition were to take an honest inventory of the five most important issues to them as individuals and collectively for the state, where does the same-gender marriage rank? First? Second? Third?
One of the most irrational assumptions plaguing the same-gender marriage debate is its impact on the church. The theory being that churches will be forced to conduct same-gender wedding ceremonies against its will. This is a profoundly un-American hypothesis that is rooted in fear, encroaching on the long standing Jeffersonian notion that there be wall of separation between church and state.
Same-gender marriage is not a church issue. No church that I am aware would be forced to conduct same-gender marriages against their will. This debate is exclusive to civil marriage, which the last time I checked was supported by the tax dollars of all Americans.
The notion of taxation without representation is critical to the American experiment. In fact, the last time we had a serious debate about it, someone lost a bunch a tea and a war soon followed.
The other illogical pro Prop.8 argument is that same-gender marriage threatens traditional, biblically based marriage. This may be the greatest red herring that is readily assumed as normative.
There is no such thing as traditional, biblically based marriage -- at least in the Western hemisphere. I know of no heterosexual couple living in the United States that has a marriage that is remotely similar to what is found within the Bible.
Biblical marriage viewed women as property; based almost exclusively on procreation.
Thus, those who wish to oppose same-gender marriage on a biblical basis must do so by advocating for their private view of morality as the best way for society, using a stagnant definition of marriage that never existed in a world that is constantly evolving.
Proponents would also argue Prop.8 simply places into the California Constitution the same language that voters already passed by 61% of the vote in 2000. They view this as the state Supreme Court overturning the will of the people through judicial activism.
But this is an incongruous argument that oversimplifies reality. The will of the people can never be solidified to the point that it can systematically deny equal protection under the law. It is for this reason that court rulings overturned Jim Crow laws and affirmed interracial marriage were controversial in the moment, but no longer.
Perhaps the strongest argument against Prop.8 is what we already know. Since June 16, 2008 California has had same-gender marriage, has there been a noticeable difference? Did the sun refuse to shine?
What would the eradication of same-gender marriage achieve? If Prop.8 passes, which means same-gender marriage is defeated, no one benefits. All this initiative would do is deny certain couples the right to marry for no other reason than their perceived failure to fit into the dominant paradigm as defined by the dominant culture.
Prop.8 is illogical because it is narrowly defined as being about marriage, but ultimately it is about equal rights -- a concept that all Californians should endorse. And we should stand in staunch opposition when there is an initiative on the ballot, like Prop.8, that seeks to take away one of our most fundamental privileges.
Byron Williams is an Oakland pastor and syndicated columnist. He is the author of Strip Mall Patriotism: Moral Reflections of the Iraq War. E-mail him at email@example.com or visit his website byronspeaks.com