Back in California, domestic partnerships provided all the benefits that came with same-sex marriage a la Ron George -- except the name "marriage." And be it noted, the same-sex marriages that occurred during the five months weren't equal to heterosexual marriages either. Couples did not enjoy federal recognition, such as Social Security spousal benefits and family status for immigration purposes.
In other words, when activists complain that Proposition 8 "took away" their rights, the only right changed was the ability to call themselves married under state law. The other benefits stand.
Brookings Institution guest scholar Jonathan Rauch wrote a piece that will appear in the South Texas Law Review that makes a solid "traditionalist" case for same-sex marriage: Gay people exist. They have families. They have children who need legal protection. Rauch sees "marriage's deepest roots in its function rather than its boundaries, and which emphasizes the desire of marrying gay couples to carry forward the ancient tradition rather than to upend it."
He's right. But here's the sticking point. There's a heavy-handedness to the true believers. They use public schools to push their political agenda with young kids. (I know people who were shocked they voted "yes" on Proposition 8, but they did so for that reason.) And the post-passage campaign to intimidate Proposition 8 supporters is chilling. Consider Scott Eckern, Richard Raddon and Marjorie Christofferson, who had to resign from their jobs after their private donations to Proposition 8 were outed.
Others have been subjected to death threats and intimidation. I am writing this column because last week I saw websites publicize the names, addresses and employers of small donors, turned civilian targets.
Even before Proposition 8 passed, San Francisco Superior Court judges voted to bar judges from taking part in the Boy Scouts (because the Boy Scouts bar gay Scout masters); local governments pulled support for similar groups. And those intolerant acts occurred when the state had different laws for different couples.
I couldn't vote against gay couples, but I also couldn't vote to create a new class of pariahs. The gay community's failure to show tolerance is costing it friends.