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Good news re CA same-sex marriage amendment


I was pleased and heartened the other day to see this news item: "Ballot description for same-sex marriage measure changed." [Link changed 30 July 2008, because the Mercury News, where I originally linked, has taken this AP article offline during the 16 hours since I posted this entry. Grr.]


Proposition 8 on the November ballot had been described as a measure to limit marriage [to being] between a man and a woman.

[But the description has now been changed to reflect the Supreme Court ruling:] The ballot title and summary now describe the initiative as a constitutional change to eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry.

[Note from Jed: I added the words "to being" in brackets about 16 hours after posting this entry, because someone pointed out in comments that the sentence as written is just wrong and confusing. Blame the AP and my inattention; I copied and pasted this sentence from the AP article without examining it closely or thinking about it.]

I suspect that this will have a huge (and positive, in my view) effect on voter perceptions and the outcome of the vote. Certainly plenty of articles and editorials I've seen have suggested that people are much less willing to do something they see as taking away an existing right than to do something they see as reinforcing an existing definition (of marriage). I don't know whether anyone's actually done any studies or polling to support that notion, but the idea sounds likely to me.

Part of me feels like this kind of recasting is a sort of a trick, and thus suspect; that is, I don't know if it passes the "would I be okay with this kind of change if it were a change in the other side's favor?" test. (In particular, I suspect there are many opponents of same-sex marriage who would argue that the "right" in question is a newly minted one, created out of whole cloth by the CA Supreme Court. I firmly believe that that argument is wrong, but I can imagine feeling similarly on the other side of some issue.)

But (a) this particular change is adhering to the literal truth, and (b) I don't really think the new description will fool anyone into thinking anything untrue or acting contrary to their beliefs; the people who are really opposed to same-sex marriage will still vote for the amendment. But some of the people who aren't sure or who don't feel strongly may not have thought of the amendment this way (as taking away an existing right); giving people new paradigms and new tools for thinking about stuff is usually a good thing in my book.

. . . At this point, Jed's half-awake thoughts wander off into incoherent mutterings about the fine line between influencing people and manipulating them, about whether logical arguments are more likely to convince people than what Rob S has been known to call "tricking people for their own good," about advertising and mass media and public-perception-vs-reality and my belief that people's rights shouldn't be subject to popular vote anyway, and so on. But writing that out would triple the length of this entry, and this was meant to be just a brief news squib, so I'll stop here.


... the fine line between influencing people and manipulating them, about whether logical arguments are more likely to convince people than what Rob S has been known to call "tricking people for their own good,"...

I'm reading Lois Bujold's A Civil Campaign right now. Miles Vorkosigan blurs that line--no, obliterates that line--quite regularly. It certainly generates a lot of thought about these very ideas. As I'm only halfway through, I'm not altogether certain how he will come to grips with what he's done and resolve his moral dilemma (though knowing the general storyline, I do know more-or-less what happens to the characters in the end). But the plot ending is going to be far less interesting than the handling of that question of influence versus manipulation, and I'm quite enjoying the book (after what seemed like a slow start, though it was possibly just because I haven't read a Miles book in perhaps five years so it took a while to get into the mindset?). Recommended, if you want some more interesting analysis of this issue in the form of entertaining not-so-much-space-opera as "let's see what happens if we drop these characters into Pride-and-Prejudice and see what beautiful comic madness and internal monologues ensue".

Did you pull that quote with cut and paste? Because it's missing a rather crucial word (before it was changed).

Fuck what the religious right would think. I'm sick of those bigots.

They won't like anything no matter what we do; the fact is, it is legal for gays to marry in California. Changing this will result in removing existing rights, no matter how new and shiny.

Sorry to be so grumpy; the shooting at the Unitarian Church (during a children's musical, no less) and the culpability of shock jocks and the religious right has made me feeling even more antagonistic toward gay-bashers today.

And I was already AWFULY antagonistic.

Wayman: Interesting; thanks for the note. I still have only read two or three of the Bujold books, but I may yet give the rest of them a try at some point.

Anonymous: Thanks; yes, I had copied and pasted from the AP article without noticing the incorrect phrasing. Corrected now.

Haddayr: I'm gonna move from the specific to the general here, and note that the unstated core of my unease in this entry was that I don't like to see the Left using tactics that I would complain about if they were used by the Right. I'm not saying we should respect the beliefs of gay-bashers; I'm saying that we need to be ethical in our approaches.

I suspect we all agree that there are certain tactics that would be unethical in producing the desired result. For example, at one extreme end of the universe of possible tactics, I suspect that few proponents of same-sex marriage would be comfortable kidnapping the children of opponents and holding them hostage until the opponents stopped their opposition.

So that suggests that there's a range of acceptability in tactics. And for me, manipulating people into agreeing with me is in an uncomfortable part of that range. Not to say it's always a bad idea, or that I don't do it, but I think it's worth questioning sometimes.

That said, in this particular instance I don't actually think the change was unethical; it just gave me momentary pause.

Note to Exzucuh Thomas Williams, who attempted to post a comment here: If you want to post a substantive and polite comment here regarding your religion, I might consider letting it stay (though I might not). But posting a link, with no explanation, to a YouTube video about God--presumably an anti-gay video--isn't good enough, so I've removed your comment.

I do not make anti gay videos I make videos that warn sinners to repent. God will draw the line in 2009. If you want to know what is to come you will have to look for my videos. you have not seen the end of the woes to come that you evil sinners are bringing upon this country.

Jeremiah 2:19 Your own wickedness shall correct you, and your backslidings shall reprove you: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and that my fear is not in you, says the Lord GOD of hosts.

This is a tough one; on the one hand, I don't really want homophobic comments littering my journal; on the other hand, I think this one is clearly labeled and kind of hard to take seriously; it's so over-the-top that I doubt any of my readers will actually be upset by it. So I think I'll let it stand, at least for now.

And for that matter, I do hope that the people who engaged in wickedness by voting for Prop 8 (and thus against societal recognition of the loving union of people who care about each other) will repent, so I guess I kind of agree with the general sentiment, even though I mean the opposite thing by it.

Jeremiah 2:7 And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness; but when you entered, you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.

Jeremiah 2:11 Has a nation changed its gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.

Jeremiah 2:17 Have you not brought this unto yourself, in that you have forsaken the LORD your God, when he led you by the way?

Jeremiah 2:19 Your own wickedness shall correct you, and your backslidings shall reprove you: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and that my fear is not in you, says the Lord GOD of hosts.

Jeremiah 2:34 Also on your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but plainly upon all these things.

Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Well, good to be reminded of where jeremiads come from.

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