California Proposition 8: Just What "Civil Rights" Are in Jeopardy?

By John W. Lillpop

California's Supreme Court met on March 4 to conduct a hearing on the constitutionality of voter-approved Proposition 8 which consists of the following 14 words:

"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."


Just 14 words that express how the majority in a a free and Democratic society feel about a major social and moral issue.

Just 14 words that confirm the teachings of most who adhere to Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity.

Just 14 words that reflect a social and moral standard observed by most civilized societies throughout human history.

Those who support same-sex marriage came away from the hearing gravely concerned that the justices did not appear inclined to overturn the will of the people when voters passed Proposition 8 last November 4.

Many warned that if their fears came to pass, ergo, if Proposition 8 is upheld, gays and lesbians will be victimized by egregious civil-rights abuses. Sean Penn, the actor who earned an Academy Award for his portrayal of Harvey Milk in the movie Milk, even called the need for overturning Proposition 8 "essential."

According to same sex advocates, the issue is all about civil rights and equality. However, if the Supreme Court does leave Proposition 8 intact, just what "rights" will homosexuals be denied?

Will they:

Be forbidden from exercising 1st Amendment free speech rights?

Be denied their 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms?

Be forced to quarter troops, in violation of the 3rd Amendment?

Be subjected to unreasonable search and seizure, in violation of the 4th Amendment?

Be denied protections against self-incrimination, double jeopardy, and due process as set forth in the 5th Amendment?

Be unable to receive a speedy trial and right to counsel as guaranteed by the 6th Amendment?

Be denied a jury trial as provided for by the 7th Amendment?

Be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th Amendment?

Be denied other rights not specially addressed in the Constitution as provided for in the 9th Amendment?

Be denied power of the states and people as found in the 10th Amendment?

Beyond the original 10 Bill of Rights, would upholding Proposition 8 deny homosexuals the right to be free from slavery (Amendment 13), racial suffrage (Amendment 15), gender suffrage (Amendment 19), poll taxes (Amendment 24), or right to vote at age 18 (Amendment 26)?

In addition, will they:

No longer be free to live where they wish and with whom they wish?

No longer be protected against discrimination in education, housing, or employment?

Be denied driver's licenses?

Be unable to enter same sex unions?

Be prohibited from attending the church or religious service of their choice?

Be restricted from moving about freely, unable to cross-state borders when and where they wish?

In the final analysis, the same-sex marriage debate seems not to be about civil rights; rather, it seems to be about whether or not society should be forced to accept homosexual values and morals as mainstream and normal.

Even in its opposition to homosexuality, society does not seem willing to deny any person his or her basic civil rights because of sexual orientation.

Bottom line: How can the same sex marriage be marketed and adjudicated as a "civil rights" issue when no fundamental rights are even remotely threatened?