Proposition 8 made its way back into the national conversation just in time for Pride Week, which started Monday.
The debate has reached a pinnacle as the case finally made it to Supreme Court.
Passed in 2008, proposition 8 defines marriage as an act between a man and a woman and therefore does not recognize same-sex marriage. The passing of the proposition affects benefits such as tax breaks and health insurance for same-sex couples.
Chris Kent, administrative support coordinator for Pride Center at Sacramento State, said that same-sex marriage has been a long fight.
“Some activists will take it back to the 70s when people first started talking about allowing same-sex couples, same-gender couples, to marry,” Kent said. “If we take it all the way back to the 70s, it’s been an expensive fight. For some folks it’s been a really rough fight.”
According to PBS.org, one of the earliest gay rights achievements occurred with the Stone Wall riots, which erupted after the New York Liquor Authority prohibited serving homosexuals at bars on the basis that homosexuals were “disorderly.” After a lawsuit by openly gay people who were refused service, the New York City Commission on Human Rights declared homosexuals have the right to be served. The decision led to the modern gay rights movement.
There are nine states that recognize gay marriage as well as the District of Columbia.
Kent said it would mean a lot to the gay community to have the definition of marriage changed in California.
“It represents full recognition and in that sense (the gay community) is getting the things that (it) wouldn’t have in a domestic partnership or in a civil union,” Kent said. “Although you can get domestic partnered, there’s still some things you’re not able to get - especially under federal view.”
According to Human Rights Campaign website, non-dependent same-sex partners and spouses (and their dependents) are treated differently under federal and most states’ tax laws.
Because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, same-sex couples - even if legally married in their state - will not be considered spouses for purposes of federal law or maybe federal tax codes.
Kent said California domestic partnership taxes are good when compared to federal taxes for domestic couples.
“I could file my California state taxes and say that I’m in a domestic partnership and that would have certain things that would be almost like a marriage as far as the way that they calculate taxes,” Kent said. “But then when I file my federal taxes, I’m just a single dude because they don’t recognize any of that kind of stuff.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, “As of 2007, employees with partner benefits pay on average $1,069 per year more in taxes than would an employee with the same coverage for a different-sex spouse.”
In addition, some gay and lesbian couples’ children do not “qualify” for an earned income tax credit.
Kent said that without tax benefits for children, there is a lack of resources going into better parenting and that if Proposition 8 is changed, “It would mean a lot to kids to know that in some fashion, institutions of our society feel that it is somewhat normal to be a child of same sex parents.”
According to NPR’s Supreme Court transcripts on the marriage equality case that challenges Proposition 8, Hollingsworth v. Perry, Justice Kennedy took into account the voice of children that live with same-sex parents because those children want their parents to have “full recognition and full status.”
Kent said that beyond the advantages of the tangible things - such as benefits and taxes - if the proposition is overturned, there will be other benefits available for married same-sex couples.
“There’s kind of two aspects to the issue. Obviously there’s the more official - there’s the paper, there’s the tax benefits, there’s all types of benefits - tangible things you can touch,” Kent said. “But then there’s the intangible things - like just being able to say that we’re married - being able to call somebody your husband or wife or whatever term you want to use - your spouse, partner- and know that it is recognized by your community and by your society. You can’t exactly touch or see that, but you can feel it.”
Preceding DOMA and Proposition 8 Supreme Court arguments, a March 2013 tracking survey by Public Religion Research Institute shows that 54 percent of white core Protestants and 52 percent of Catholics “favor requiring the federal government to recognize marriages between gay and lesbian couples that were performed in states where same-sex marriage is legal.”
CRU, a Christian organization at Sac State, had a reverse confessional booth at its “Blue like Jazz” event March 11-12. Director of CRU Gregg Triplett said the group’s goal for the event was to apologize on behalf of the church for not adequately showing Jesus’ love.
“It was more (based on how) we want to speak to people who have felt ostracized by the church or people who may have been hurt by Christians,” Triplett said.
He said they acknowledge that gays and lesbians quite possibly fit into the category of not being fully accepted.
“We as Christians get saddened by the way who we are as Christians can sometimes push away certain groups of people,” Triplett said. “When I look at the Bible or when I look at who Jesus was (I think) man these are types of people that Jesus was hanging out with - the marginalized, the social outcasts, the people that had been picked on or abused.”
Student minister coordinator for the Newman Catholic Community at Sac State Keyko Torres-Oki, said personally she has had to deal with a lot being part of the core gay community and being a strong Catholic.
“Like separation of church and state, I do it so in my own personal life, you know, like there’s a touch of politics and those types of beliefs and then there’s like my personal relationship with God,” Torres-Oki said. “And I don’t let either one dictate the other.”
Torres-Oki said she thinks if Proposition 8 is overturned, it will be a huge step for the gay rights movement and civil rights in general.
“Having it overturned is a big win in terms of personal liberties, but it’s also a really big win for those of us who fight who are a part of the core community,” Torres-Oki said. “To see that something positive is happening - that it’s not all in vain, that we’re not just screaming in corners and trying to get attention- but that our voice is finally being heard and we’re being recognized as political adversaries.”
Pride Week events will be happening at Sac State until April 12.