In Which A Thanksgiving Season Rumination Goes Horribly Wrong

Now that Election Day is over, we may turn our attention to the next big day on the calendar, Guy Fawkes Day. Kaboom! Sadly, it’s practically over already. That makes Thanksgiving the next holiday.

From elementary school, we have been told the story of the first Thanksgiving. In the 1620s, a group of settlers sailed across the Atlantic to what is now Massachusetts. The settlers had a very hard first winter, but thanks to the help of the natives, the next fall’s harvest was bountiful. These settlers, who we now call the Pilgrims, were fleeing religious persecution in their native England.

A century and a half later, the Founding Fathers of the United States had to give some thought the matter of religion. Should the new Congress officially endorse any of the several religions then practiced in the colonies, it would doubtless lead to the persecution of the followers of the others. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was written to guarantee no citizen be coerced into practicing any religion.

It’s agonizingly ironic that just over two centuries later, California’s State Constitution will receive an amendment that is clearly motivated by religion. You know the one— it that defines exactly who can and who can not be considered married by the State. Thousands of couples that briefly enjoyed the benefits of marriage are likely now not considered married any longer.

This is obviously considered a good thing by certain religious leaders and their faithful. They donated an astonishing amount of money and time into accomplishing an act that is hateful at worst and wastefully redundant at best. Consider that the book they base their beliefs around already contains guidelines on who can marry whom. If the book is truly the word of their God, is that not sufficient? Should they not obey that word, regardless of what’s allowed by a secular State government? Why was it necessary to impose this element of their belief system on all citizens of this State?

This is particularly egregious when one considers the number of Californians that don’t subscribe to any branch or flavor of the Christian religion. Did you know that 40% of all Buddhists in America reside in Southern California? And that 21% of the population of California is non-religious?

I may not follow any organized belief system, either, but I certainly won’t prevent others from following whatever belief systems they like. And I certainly wouldn’t try to impose my beliefs upon them, whether directly by proselytizing or indirectly through political engineering or cultural engineering. Why is it too much to ask of some that they return the favor?

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3 thoughts on “In Which A Thanksgiving Season Rumination Goes Horribly Wrong”

  1. One step forward, two steps back, huh? Sorry, ’bout that, Erik. I wouldn’t have voted to pass that amendment… I can’t abide intolerance and this particular issue so heavily flavored with it that I don’t understand how it is, “we want change, we want change!!!” But then we don’t make it happen. Shameful.

  2. Hopefully one day we’ll look back on things like these and they’ll be as foreign as not allowing interracial marriages. (Huh? So, wait… what? It was illegal for gays to marry?)
    The only part of this I find humorous is the fact that it clearly won’t stand up to a legal challenge, so the $73 million basically bought a uhm… message to gay people that there’s a sizable percentage of the population that don’t agree. Yeah… I could find better things to do with that money.
    As for actually accomplishing anything with this amendment the Yes people are going to run squarely into things like the IRS (with filing statuses), HIPAA (with spousal privilege for information), Social Security (with survivor benefits), wills, 401K beneficiaries, etc. Because this amendment, by its very nature, changes the legal definition of marriage it has legal ramifications. It would be clearly illegal to propose a “gay tax” and by the same measure it’s going to be illegal to prevent LGBTs from ever having a married filing status. It simply won’t fly.
    I personally think that the government should stop using the word marriage at all and simply hand out “Civil Union” licenses to one and all. That way the Church would control whether or not someone is symbolically “married” and the state could hand out the same legal status to a gay couple that’s been together for 18 years that it currently gives to Ms. Hobag on her 5th husband and 8th child (from 7 different men).
    Of course I don’t think many people on either side of the Yes/No debate would buy into that…
    (In completely unrelated news… holy crap I can’t spell! Thanks Firefox for saving me!)

  3. Titan: Thanks. Apparently, there’s a chance that those who submitted the proposition may not have followed the correct procedure. Seems like a long shot, but we’ll see.
    Carl: Thank you for your suggestion. It would neatly sidestep the Constitutional issue. However, we regret that we cannot accept it as written. Our research shows that America prefers radical, polarizing politics, not reasonable compromises of the sort you have suggested.

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