Today, people in Kansas City and all over the country will gather to protest the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which eliminated same-sex couples’ right to marry in that state. The Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and evangelical groups spent millions to pass the measure.
Although these religious traditions assign significant meaning to marriage, it is also a legal contract in this country. The state, not the church, gives married couples basic rights and protections, including hospital visitation and health insurance eligibility; Social Security, pension and family leave benefits; immigration protection and more.
One of my brothers was married in a church ceremony, the other in a Las Vegas wedding chapel. Neither couple is less married than the other. But both enjoy 1,049 federal rights, protections, and responsibilities that are denied to my partner of 13 years and me.
This is a legal, not a religious, issue. The Catholic Church can keep its sacrament just as it is, the LDS Church its sacred covenant. My gay brothers and sisters and I want only the same civil rights and responsibilities as our straight brothers and sisters. Nothing more. Nothing less.
So Melissa Etheridge isn’t pleased that California’s Proposition 8 passed, outlawing gay marriage? (11/8, FYI. “Stargazing”) That’s her choice, but her statement that she shouldn’t have to pay California state taxes because of it is not. However, what really concerns me is her defense based on “that taxation without representation thing.”
As far as I can determine, Ms. Etheridge was represented and taxed before Proposition 8 was passed and continues to be represented and taxed after its passage. Her representation isn’t lessened simply because the majority of others who are also represented voted against something she supports. Rather, that is just democracy at work.
Perhaps she meant to invoke Thoreau’s concept of civil disobedience — refusing to obey laws and accepting the consequences that follow — for her decision to not pay her taxes. Or maybe she could defend her support of gay marriage with a tenet from our country’s Declaration of Independence — “all men are created equal.”
I’m sure many other people were disappointed by the outcomes of the recent elections, too, and I respect their right to make their displeasure known. I hope they, unlike Ms. Etheridge, understand that representation doesn’t mean always getting your way.