Prejudice


This week the California Supreme Court is hearing arguments regarding overturning Proposition 8. As you remember this was the initiative on the ballot in November 2008 that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. There hasn’t been nearly as much publicity about these hearings as there was in November regarding the vote. As you remember the vote then was very polarizing for Californians with the proposition passing with only 52% of the vote. With this in mind I would like to briefly discuss one of the major arguments that is used by the gay and lesbian community to claim their supposed rights to marriage. They claim that the denial of “rights” to them is a form of prejudice. This morning the New York Times reported that “Opponents of Proposition 8 argued that the voters had gone too far in taking away the right to marry from gay men and lesbians, who had been identified by the court in May’s ruling as being historically subjected to prejudice.”

In America we have come to think of the word prejudice as an evil word. We think that because society is prejudiced against someone that that person is by definition being wronged. This is a flawed view. For example, it could be said that I am prejudiced against murderers. I feel it is just for society to take from them their God-given rights to life, liberty, and property. I feel the same way about those who steal, are dishonest in business dealings, etc. Why am I prejudiced against these types of people? Because their choices harm the public good and can harm me personally. The same principle applies to the issues of providing marriage to gay and lesbian couples. Society can rightfully be prejudiced against these people in depriving them of the privilege to marry because in so doing society protects its own good and its own strength. The argument that we are prejudiced against a particular demographic is not sufficient reason to grant them rights or to forbear taking those rights and privileges from them.

The Times further reported that “The lawyer, Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, argued that if the court upheld Proposition 8, same-sex couples would have ‘our outsider status enshrined in our Constitution.’ The right to marry, he said, was inalienable.”

This is simply not true. In simple fact, there is no inalienable “right to marry” given to any citizen of the United States. Marriage is rather a privilege that can be attained by citizens who are willing to live up to the social responsibility and obligations that come along with marriage.

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