Letters to the Editor

Response to Peter Schock ’08 (11/21)

To the Editor:? Regarding the successful campaign to ban gay marriage in California, Peter Schock ‘08 wrote in your last issue that “If either side truly wants their argument mandated as law, they should resolve the issue in higher court, where resolutions regarding the status of citizens’ rights are made in a clear, national fashion at less expense to the people.” Memo to Mr. Schock: the gay community did just that, and the California Supreme Court ruled this past spring in favor of gay marriage. Mr. Schock further states that regardless of process, the distinction between gay marriage and domestic partnership is “merely an unimportant aesthetic resolution.” Perhaps he did not read his state court’s decision? First, the judges noted nine ways in which domestic partnerships were not equal to civil marriage. Second, and more significantly, the court argued that “even when the state grants ostensibly equal benefits to a previously excluded class through the creation of a new institution, the intangible symbolic differences that remain often are constitutionally significant.” Indeed, the court found that domestic partnerships are inevitably “a mark of second-class citizenship.” It observed that those who mark their status on legal forms as domestic-partnered rather than married automatically out themselves and risk prejudicial consideration for employment, housing, or other opportunities. The judges concluded that domestic partnership “is likely, for a considerable period of time, to pose significant difficulties and complications for same-sex couples, and perhaps most poignantly for their children.” Words matter. They matter to my seven-year-old daughter who regularly has to explain her “two daddy” family to peers on the playground. They matter to her parents as we observe the increasing number of states that recognize same-sex marriage licenses granted elsewhere but reject otherwise similar civil unions and domestic partnerships. They matter to my entire family as we try to live dignified and meaningful lives within our own community. Mr. Schock claims that the the pro and anti Prop 8 campaigns in California “essentially wasted Californians’ time, energy and money.” Perhaps democracy by referendum is worthy of criticism, but I reject his assertion that the gay community shares responsibility for a “$70 million smear campaign.” I would invite Mr. Schock to take that complaint exclusively to those who initiated the successful referendum to ban gay marriage, not to the minority group whose rights were taken away. Yours, Frank Tipton Instructor in History Adviser on GLBT Issues