Friday, October 24, 2008

One man, one woman

I got my first political phone call of the season this morning on my way to work. I'm actually still a little perplexed about how they got my mobile number. . . but anyhoo.

The conversation started with a man asking for "Mrs." S.B. I informed him that there was no "MRS." S.B. at this number (pet peeve of mine), but that I was S.B. He then apologized for the error, introduced himself, and told me that he wanted to talk to me about Proposition 102 (more info here: Essentially, Proposition 102 seeks to amend the Arizona Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

As an aside, Arizona law already defines marriage in this way. There is a statute that specifically provides that marriage between two people of the same sex is not permitted, A.R.S. 25-101(C) ( Arizona is not one of the states in which gay couples have had same-sex marriages performed or where courts have ruled that gay couples have the right to marry. I have not read a single news story about a gay couple even seeking a marriage license in this state, let alone actually getting one and marrying.

I politely interrupted his spiel to tell him that I have already voted. We then had the following exchange.

Caller: Was that a vote for "yes"?
Me: No, it was a vote for "no."
Caller: No, marriage shouldn't be one man and one woman?
Me: No. . . . no, the constitution should not be amended as proposed.
Caller: Oh.
Me: OK, you have a nice day now. Goodbye.

My first inclination was to chuckle. Clearly whoever provided this fellow with names and numbers of people to call did not do their homework: nothing about me would suggest that I am socially conservative or anti-gay, and I am a registered Independent. Why would they think that I would be persuadable on this issue? I'm not even married.

Upon further reflection, though, I found the call more disturbing than amusing. Not only the fact that obviously people are calling voters in an attempt to have this unnecessary and discriminatory proposition passed; that's also disturbing, and I'll address it next.

No, what disturbed me was that the caller didn't seem to know what the amendment is about. A vote for "no" in no way says that the voter supports a new definition of marriage; it merely indicates that the voter does not wish to have the Arizona Constitution amended.

And lest you think I'm getting all lawyerly with the distinction, let me provide the precise language used on the ballot: "A 'no' vote shall have the effect of maintaining the current statutory law of the State of Arizona which prohibits marriage between persons of the same sex, but would not amend the Arizona Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman."

I am not against gay marriage. I am not religious, and I don't see how allowing gay couples to marry affects heterosexual couples one iota. As for the idea that allowing gay marriage would ruin the "sanctity" of marriage. . . I have two thoughts on that. One is that marriage, at least as a state-sanctioned union, isn't truly "sanctified." It is a legal construct, an agreement between two consenting adults that is recognized by the government and subject to lots of state laws. If you want your marriage to be sanctified, you can marry in the church, temple, or mosque of your choice. . . but I see that as something separate and distinct from the civil part of marriage, the part with which the state is involved.

Secondly, even if you *do* regard marriage as sanctified, if you look at the rates of adultery and divorce in this country, I think heterosexual couples have already done a darn fine job of ruining the "sanctity" of marriage on their own. It's ludicrous to me to think that allowing two gay adults who love and are committed to one another to marry in any way affects the marriages of heterosexual couples!

I suppose this amendment is an attempt to prevent some "activist judge" in Arizona (do we have those here?!) from following the lead of Massachusetts, California, and some other "blue" states in recognizing gay marriages.

With all that we have going on in our country. . . . is this really something that is worth spending time, money, and attention on?!


Valerie said...

Amen to all of the above. I'm so glad you're a lawyer, too. :)

jen said...

I agree wholeheartedly! Though I think its not so much of a religious thing as it is an ignorance thing! I'm a Christian and support same sex marriages and adoptions and what nots, whole heartedly.

jen said...

Maybe I'll say "wholeheartedly" a couple more times...Sheesh! *note to self: Read what you type before hitting Publish.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that. Besides the social ramifications of it all, I get squiffy about constitution amendments...I have no idea why.