Students speak out on Proposition 8

November 13, 2008 — by Jenny Zhang

Millions of Americans looked to the presidential election with eager eyes on Nov. 4, hoping for change. In California, some of that change came as an affront to supporters of gay and lesbian rights, including many students.

Proposition 8 stated “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” At midnight on Nov. 4, the proposition was passed, effectively banning same-sex marriages. As the most expensive proposition on the ballot this year, the results were anticipated by many voters, which turned out to be 52.4 percent for and 47.6 percent against.

One group on campus particularly affected by it is the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), which is led by co-presidents seniors Jessica Gipe, Sarah Baldwin, Aaron Garg, and junior Shana Levy.

“It really, really stinks,” said Gipe. “Before it went through, I was kind of hoping that a lot of people would come to their senses and realize what should happen, but after it passed it was a betrayal because they’re taking away civil rights.”

There were several students on campus that support Proposition 8, but were unwilling to have their opinions attributed in the newspaper for fear of being seen as against human rights by their peers.

A lot of support could be seen both for and against this proposition, with both sides spending more than $74 million in their respective campaigns. A main argument made by supporters of Proposition 8 was that if gay marriages were allowed, children at public schools would be taught to accept gay marriage against the wishes of their parents. This was shown a lot in the “Yes on 8” commercials, while “No on 8” commercials said that this would not happen, resulting in many confused voters. Other than that, opponents of the proposition argued mainly for human rights reasons, stating that homosexuals deserve the same treatment as heterosexuals.

“[Proposition 8] just makes me want to work harder to create an understanding between people,” said Baldwin.

Although California as a whole voted for the passage of Proposition 8, the counties within the state were divided among this issue in an interesting way. With the exception of Alpine County and Mono County on the eastern border of California and Yolo County, all of the counties against Proposition 8 were located on the western coast.

Among those counties against banning rights to gay marriage is Santa Clara County. With 243,953 votes for Proposition 8 and 306, 026 votes against it, Santa Clara County resulted in 44.3 percent for and 55.7 percent against.

“Even though [Proposition 8] passed, there’s still hope,” said Baldwin. “Right now, the majority of the population believes being gay is a choice, so the gay community needs to teach the population that it’s not a choice. Once they learn [that], they won’t be discriminating against the gay population.”

Since California is closely watched by the rest of the country, many states may soon follow California’s example. During this past election, two other gay marriage bans were also instituted in Florida and Arizona, but with higher margins of 62 percent to 38 percent and 56 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

The brief four and a half months when gay marriage was legal was initiated by a court ruling that resulted from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s decision to issue same-sex wedding licenses in his city. Within that period of time, 18,000 same-sex couples were married. Supporters of gay and lesbian rights, however, are confident that Proposition 8 will have no bearing on these marriages.