Reneging on marriage rights makes second-class citizens

Proposition 8 consists of a single sentence: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

But it's hardly simple. Those 14 words would rescind the recently established right of single-sex couples to marry, and they would be fixed in the state constitution.

The same sentence was approved by voters in 2000 as an initiative statute, and it was overturned by the state Supreme Court as a violation of the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

We agreed with the Supreme Court's ruling this past May, and we encourage voters to affirm it by voting no on Proposition 8.

It's time to put this issue to rest.

The court ruled that the state constitution does not tolerate a distinction between unions of opposite-sex couples and those of same-sex couples. And we don't believe that voters should, as a matter of equity, fairness and decency, go out of their way to rewrite the constitution to create such a distinction.

Advocates of Proposition 8 offer several arguments, but none of them stand up to close scrutiny.

Supporters say traditional marriage will be undermined, but they struggle to make their case. How exactly will allowing two people to wed threaten the ability of opposite-sex couples to marry? One thing all sides should agree on is that the real threat to the institution of marriage is divorce. We need to get past this issue and focus on doing more to encourage people to stand by their vows.

Supporters also say children deserve two parents. They say churches will be threatened, and schools will be forced to teach alternative lifestyles. Domestic partnership, they argue, is an adequate alternative to marriage.

We agree that children are better off with two loving parents. But many children are in single-parent homes or foster care, and this measure won't change that. Gay and lesbian couples raise children, and allowing them to marry strengthens family bonds just as it does for heterosexual couples.

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