Why I Voted Against Proposition 8

This is a political post that’s more candid than most I do that aren’t Obama-related lately, but feels important to me. If you’re not interested in my view here, please do skip.

Last week I voted absentee, and there were 2 extremely important votes in my mind: Obama for president, and no on California Proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, effectively banning same-sex marriages.

I think this is wrong, for 2 basic reasons:

  • It’s hateful and discriminatory, and discrimination like this should not be codified into law.
  • We live in a time where human connections and commitments are increasingly hard to maintain and be true to over the long haul.

More broadly, though, is this: we should support and celebrate human commitments to each other to live in service of and support of one another, in any form we find them. It is not easy to live in a committed relationship with anyone for the long haul — and rejecting the recognition of that type of commitment is wrong, and, I think, counter-productive in a society where nuclear families of all sorts are so hard to maintain.

[You should also read Chris Messina’s post on the subject — he writes more eloquently than I do about this subject, and is well worth reading.]


  1. John, I'm a little disappointed by the post, but understand why you felt compelled to write it. Let me just say that reasonable minds can disagree on this. I find Proposition 8 neither hateful nor discriminatory, and your choice of words far too facile and loaded. I can think of a wide range of state-imposed prohibitions on behavior that impede some people's desired courses of actions, and in so doing it's being neither discriminatory nor hateful. It's simply doing what it views is good for its citizens.

    It may be that the people will vote on this and decide that millennia-old strictures are wrong. If so, more power to the people. But just because some think those strictures are appropriate does not make them (or the state behind them) “hateful and discriminatory.” I can think of very good other words to describe the feelings and motives supporting Proposition 8, even for those, like I, who have very dear and very close friends who are homosexual.

  2. Matt, thanks for replying, and you're right that I should be more
    careful in my language. What I should say is that I do find the law
    discriminatory and, more important, counter-productive to a society
    that needs people to commit to each other and care for each other more
    than ever. I find some of the *campaigning* to be hateful and
    fearmongering – and to be less than the careful discourse we should be
    having in America.

    I understand and respect that people will have legitimtely differing
    opinions in this – and, yep, we will let the electorate speak. That's
    why the title of my post is merely what I've done and why.

    Anyway, you were right to make me be more specific here (and I can be
    more specific still if you want to see the printed material sent to my
    house that I object to), so hopefully this will help my post make more

  3. We have a similar measure here in Arizona on this election as well.

  4. It is removing a right to marry that the supreme court of California has stated is part of the California state constitution. What part of invalidating the *existing* marriages of people and removing a right is not hateful?

    This is a religiously motivated proposition but we live in a secular society. My values give no justification to stop anyone who wants to form a partnership from doing so. My values focus on the reduction of harm and suffering for all people (including my fellow citizens) and the promotion of compassion, truthfulness, and, frankly, life. Allowing people who wish to be married to simply be married and to have their relationship as protected as any other by law is in line with these things.

    I have yet to hear a decent, non-religiously motivated, argument for why we should support this proposition.

  5. Hi John I agree with your sentiment regarding no on 8 and Obama for president as well. I think unfortunately that yes on 8 will win as the ads for yes have been more prevalent here in california. To me two people that love each other and are committed to one another should have the same rights regardless of sexual orientation. I know of the religious objections by some but to me marriage is a personal vow of love between one person to another and marriages should be judged independently and not as an institution.

  6. Thank you for this post John. I have been struggling with the question of whether or not to blog on No on Prop 8. The struggle has nothing to do with the question of whether or not I believe that Proposition 8 is hateful and discriminatory. I believe it is both (and I do not believe that “millennia-old strictures” somehow sanitize the hatefulness — they do not). But, until now, I have dutifully avoided blogging on so called “political issues.” Like you, however, I believe this is too important to ignore. Thank you for your thoughts and for the unintended nudge in the right direction. I will be sure to post my objections to Proposition 8 as well. This is a civil rights issue — a human rights issue — and we all need to do everything we can to stand against this modern-day segregation.

  7. I do not hate anyone from the gay community and I am voting “yes” on prop 8. It’s obvious to me from various articles and statements I have read that there are those who don’t think it is possible to put these two assertions in the same sentence. But I am writing this to let people know that there are many, many people who are voting “yes” on 8 and are not doing so out of hate. I am not motivated by hate. The reason I go out and encourage people to vote “yes” and have a “yes” sign in my yard is motivated by my love for God and His laws and commandments. As a Christian, I believe with all my soul that God Himself started this institution called marriage at the beginning of time and established it as a union between a man and a woman; that’s it! No addendums, no “but maybe later”s, a union between a man and a woman. I am working to keep God’s institution the way He established it; nothing more and nothing less. http://www.whatisprop8.com

  8. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    I like the 1st Amendment. Every part of it seems to be related to discussion of Proposition 8.

    The 1st amendment guarantees my right to an opinion. The strongest differences of opinion over issues are usually questions of deciding “greater good”.

    I am not lesbian nor gay, but if my opinion affects my neighbor, I should think about it seriously. After much thought, my view is most similar to the one articulated here:


    It contains non-religious(not that there's anything wrong with that) arguments written by Margaret Somerville, an ethicist.

    I will vote Yes on Proposition 8 and if you will read and think about Ms. Somerville's ideas, maybe you will too.