The following is a letter written by a university student to the editor of the paper at her Christian high school alma mater. The author is thoughtful and clear. This is definitely worth the read.

Rethink Prop 8

Brittany Lauber,

Dear Editor:

Hailing from Fresno Christian and now attending a university known for its political liberalism has provided an interesting backdrop to the election season. One of the most influential, albeit ultimately unsuccessful, campaigns on the Berkeley campus was “No on Prop 8.” After being exposed to both sides of the argument, I thought I might add my thoughts about this most controversial of propositions.

To start with, I feel obliged to point out some obvious errors in the logic of this article’s argument. One of the most misunderstood things about this proposition is the claims that it will have an effect on the education of children in public schools. If one actually reads the linked article it can be seen that these claims are completely unfounded. Tolerance of homosexuality is already taught in public schools and the passing of Prop 8 will do nothing to change that while a “no” vote on it leaves things as they presently are. The scare tactics used by supporters of Prop 8 were extremely misleading and did not bespeak well of the Christian principle of honesty.

You also unduly emphasized the fact that the court overruled a law passed with a 61% vote. You greatly misunderstand the checks and balances of our government system if you think that a majority opinion should carry any weight in the judicial branch. In the court, public opinion is of no concern and the task is to determine whether the law in question is constitutional or not. It also must be noted that your caption is not accurate: the 2000 law was not a constitutional amendment; if it was the courts would not have been able to strike it down. Accordingly Prop 8 set out to amend the constitution in order to avoid the authority of the court.

Your comment about the Court’s “runaway liberal agenda” is both accusatory and ignorant. According to a article, “California ban on same-sex marriage struck down,” “The ruling surprised legal experts because the court has a reputation for being conservative. Six of its seven judges are Republican appointees.” A mostly Republican court with a runaway liberal agenda is highly unlikely.

While it is true that the Declaration of Independence acknowledges the presence of a higher power (as far as I am aware the Constitution does not), it is worth noting that this being–Divine Providence in your quote–is not named to be the Christian God. In fact terms like this as well as “Creator” and “Nature’s God” (also used in the Declaration) seem to be deliberately distanced from any particular religion. This is because while many early Americans were Christians, they acknowledged from the outset the vital importance of religious freedom. Hence the very first line of the Bill of Rights reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Christianity was never the recognized religion of the United States, nor was it intended to be.

Incidentally it is dangerous territory for you to suggest that there is a link between a lack of Christian morality in our laws and our country’s standing in the world. President Bush is a Christian and it is largely due to him that the standing of our country has plummeted in recent years.

As has already been stated, the United States was founded apart from Christianity so the claim that the Bible is the basis of its morality is rather dubious. The morality of our country–insofar as morality is required for law–is based on that which is common in many religions and is continually in flux. As the Bible is not recognized by the country as any source of moral precedence, quoting it is ineffective in the realm of politics and legislation.

Ultimately the question of Prop 8 is not one of whether homosexual marriage is right or wrong. It is rather a question of whether it should be legal or not. When considering the proposition one must contemplate what the proper role of the government is regarding personal decisions and morals. This begs the question: is it proper for the government to legislate morality regarding an issue where there is no potential of harming other people?

A final thing to think about is that Prop 8 effectively changes the state constitution. This is no mere law being considered but rather an amendment. As such the decision should not be taken lightly, for to add an amendment is to make a proposition untouchable by the courts and difficult to overrule if the people ever have a change of heart. So the question is raised: should a definition of marriage have a place in the constitution?

While Prop 8 has already been passed, the debate over it has forced the citizens of California to answer these questions and examine their views about the relationships between law, morality, government and legislation. Such issues will continue to be vitally important in the years to come.

This article was originally printed here. In response to Ryan Swain’s Nov. 4 column, Yes on Prop 8: Reinstate sanctity of marriage.