Monday, February 09, 2009

Response to Jon Weintraub

I don’t appreciate being called a liar. Jonathan has made 3 accusations on his blog.
1. I wrote a sarcastic article, in which I claimed to have model legislation. When he called for it, I couldn’t find it. Therefore, I am a liar.
2. I admitted that the California Supreme Court decision mandating same sex marriage created a “carve-out:” clergy are not required to perform same sex marriages. However, one of the more visible of the 100,000 volunteers on Prop 8 stated that “clergy could be forced to perform same sex weddings.” Therefore, I am a liar.
3. I stated that I didn’t expect Prop 8 to apply retroactively and invalidate the weddings that had taken place between June and the election. Because the defenders of Prop 8 have taken the opposite position, I am a liar.

Let me say a few words about each of these rather implausible accusations, in reverse order.
3. I didn’t expect Prop 8 to be applied retroactively. When asked this question on the campaign trail, I consistently said that I didn’t know what would happen to the marriages. Other spokesmen for Prop 8 said they expected the issue to be resolved by litigation. Well, in effect, that is still the case. The status of those marriages is being litigated. The Prop 8 campaign took the position that the marriages should be invalidated is that the judge asked them that question point blank. Why were they in court? Solely because the opponents of Prop 8 have launched a frivolous lawsuit to invalidate a perfectly legal election. The quote you have on your blog makes it sound as if Prop 8 defenders went to court to invalidate the existing marriages. As I understand it, they were in court in response to the challenge to Prop 8, and not on their own initiative.
Would the campaign have initiated a court case themselves to try to invalidate the existing marriages, in the absence of this challenge mounted by the opponents of Prop 8? I have no idea. And it doesn’t matter any more.
2. Many people have the idea that clergy are going to be required to solemnize same sex weddings. I have always done “due diligence” with people, to straighten them out on that point. I am not responsible for everything said by every person who worked for Prop 8.
The larger point is that the “carve out” exemption is completely inadequate to protect the religious expression of people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Religious practice is threatened by the combination of same sex marriage and the ever-expanding anti-discrimination statutes. The position of the No on 8 campaign was in effect that people need not be concerned about religious liberty, on the basis of the exemption for clergy solemnizing weddings. This position is far more misleading than what you accuse me, and the Prop 8 campaign of doing.
1. Jon is quite correct on this one. I couldn’t find the model legislation that I had claimed to have in my article. As it happens, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When I asked the person who originally composed the legislation for another copy, she said that she did not want it to be released. She felt that the time was not right. In that sense, I didn’t really even have the right to mention it without talking to her first. I was mistaken in this instance. I told Jon as much when he called. I was embarrassed by my mistake. This is not the sign of a liar.
I should also say, in response to Jon’s blog, that I came to the conclusion that he was right about one other thing. Sarcasm is not a good thing as a rule. The reaction I got to that very article was one of the things that convinced me to try to avoid sarcasm.
Finally, I have to take issue with one of the claims Jon made in his post on the Ruth Youth wall. (By the way, it was very decent of you to make a post there: it alerted me to the fact that you had criticized me on your blog. I would not have known that otherwise.) “The whole point of the campaign was to eradicate the idea that a same-sex couple can be happy, well-adjusted and traditional.” I don’t believe that was the point of the campaign at all. If you go back and look at the ads, you will see nothing about gays and lesbians themselves. The campaign made a decision, at the highest level, to focus on marriage, not on the gay community. There was nothing in the advertising at all that suggested that “those people” are somehow unworthy or defective. The arguments were about marriage: the nature of marriage, and the consequences of redefining marriage.
The Prop 8 campaign was a very clean campaign in that sense. We did not demonize our opponents. We focused on how the changing the definition of marriage would affect the rest of society. That is not gay-bashing, under any reasonable definition of the term.

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