Hard to believe that the battle over Prop 8 has been fought for over 4 years now. In honor of tomorrow’s forthcoming decision, I thought it’d be fun to take a quick look back to how public opinion was forming around the issue in 2008. Here’s an old Op-Ed I wrote along with Lyell Sakaue for the Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s on campus news paper, in opposition to Prop 8.
Thursday, Oct 2, 2008 | 11:11 pm | By Lyell Sakaue, Carlo De La Cruz
On Nov. 4, American voters will have the opportunity to make history by voting for the first major party African American presidential candidate or a female vice presidential candidate. California voters have another historic opportunity: to uphold ideals of equality and fairness and preserve the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Proposition 8 is a ballot initiative which would amend the California Constitution to include a clause stating “only marriage between a man and woman will be valid or recognized in California.” This proposition does not simply bar same-sex marriages; it eliminates a right which all Californians currently enjoy. The California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 22, the ban on same-sex marriage, is in violation of the California Constitution, affirming that marriage is a fundamental right and cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation.
Proponents of Prop 8 proclaim that this is the work of extreme “activist judges” placing their personal values above the supposed will of the people of California. 60 years ago, the same argument was made about a court decision which invalidated anti-miscegenation laws, which banned interracial marriages. Today, interracial couples comprise 13.5 percent of marriages in California, and you would be hard pressed to find people who deny that this was a major step towards a more equitable and inclusive California.
Regardless of how you feel about the court’s ruling, Proposition 8 will create second-class status for same-sex couples by barring them from a fundamental set of rights and benefits granted to married couples under the law. These include hospital visitation and joint income tax filing among many others. A Los Angeles Times editorial frames the issue very clearly: “The very act of denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry-traditionally the highest legal and societal recognition of a loving commitment-by definition relegates them and their relationships to second-class status.”
Not only is this an issue of fairness and equality for all Californians, it is deeply relevant to the campus community. By passing Proposition 8, the learning environment for all students, staff and faculty will be negatively affected, as it sets a dangerous precedent to deny rights to certain groups on the basis of sexual orientation.
Marriage is fundamentally a student issue: Approximately 1 percent of students in the UC system are currently married-this does not include recent alumni who marry, or plan to marry soon after graduation. Proposition 8 is a student issue, and one that will affect both students and faculty member on this campus-in matters of mental health, marital benefits and inclusion.
In addition to issues of equity, this proposition has significant fiscal impacts. According to California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen, Prop 8 will result in ” potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments.” Not only is Prop 8 morally objectionable, it is fiscally irresponsible.
Indecision for Californian voters is no longer an option. Inaction on Prop 8-which will deny civil rights and equality for all Californians-will condone the actions of proponents of Prop 8. Take action today and join Berkeley students and community members at a rally featuring San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom at 12:30 p.m. on Sproul Plaza. Support equal rights and fairness, vote down Prop 8.