By Colin A. Hanna
President, Let Freedom Ring
It's been a year since Californians said YES to Proposition 8, the controversial ballot initiative preserving traditional marriage in the Golden State. Campaigns for and against the initiative raised over 83 million dollars, making it one of the most expensive ballot initiatives ever.
We all know the results. Over 7 million Californians voted to protect the traditional institution of marriage by voting to "eliminate the rights of same-sex couples to marry in California." What's interesting, however, is the reaction of Prop 8 opponents over the past year as they exhibited precisely the kind of vitriol and intolerance of which they accused Prop 8 proponents. Is exercising the right to express one's opinion on a ballot question a legitimate justification for harassment and intimidation? Voters came out in large numbers to have their voices heard, and the traditionalists were in the majority.
This was a clear case of "We the People" in action as citizens mobilized to amend the California Constitution through the prescribed means. Prop 8 proponents gathered over 1.2 million signatures to place their initiative to preserve traditional marriage on the ballot, well beyond the 695,000 required by law. Since last year's election, same-sex marriage advocates also have petitioned the people of California, but so far have failed to acquire enough signatures for an oppositional ballot initiative that would grant same-sex marriage in the state.
Opponents of Prop 8 have been anything but gracious in defeat and refuse to accept the will of the people. Specifically, many of them targeted donors who contributed to the initiative. Vicious direct mail, Internet and email campaigns were mounted to harass and intimidate Prop 8 supporters. Opponents posted blacklists of individual supporters and their businesses. Same-sex marriage advocates relentlessly demand tolerance of their lifestyles and beliefs, but exhibit unalloyed intolerance of opposing views. One of the more publicized cases was Scott Eckern, the director of California Musical Theater. Under California disclosure laws, release of donor information such as name, job, and employer is allowed. With easy access to such personal information on the state's website, a blogger revealed that Mr. Eckern donated $1,000 to YES on Prop 8. Homosexual artists then cast aspersions regarding Eckern and threatened to boycott the theater. Eckert resigned under the pressure and negative publicity.
Eckern's case is not anomalous. Californians Against Hate is an advocacy group for homosexuals, but their name is oxymoronic since their goal is clearly to harass and intimidate people who supported Prop 8 financially or by volunteering at the polls. On their website they created a "dishonor roll" listing the major donors to Prop 8, their contributions, addresses, and in some cases the names of their employers. Also on their website was a link to a blog called "Mormongate" that mocked the Mormon church's beliefs through rhyming verse. This type of derision and small-mindedness overtly implies that church values are hateful, and that anyone who opposes same-sex marriage should be exposed and rebuked publically.
Perhaps the bigger question is why such a campaign donor law exists in the first place, if our Constitution aims for an open and free society where individuals can express their beliefs at the polls or through their wallets in privacy and free of intimidation. Supporters of Prop 8 sought to block public disclosure of private donations, but a U.S. District judge denied their appeal and instead invoked the people's right to know such information. Shouldn't a person's right to contribute to a cause be free of harassment or the fear of harassment? Doesn't the First Amendment guarantee of free speech supersede any group's right to know an individual's charitable contributions? Such intolerance and castigation of personal beliefs would never be tolerated by same-sex advocates. It's the ultimate hypocrisy: the tolerance of intolerance.
For now at least, marriage is preserved in the state of California, but at a high cost to those citizens who chose to defend a definition that had been enshrined in custom and codified in law since California drew up its Constitution. Those who demanded tolerance demonstrated intolerance, and it remains a deceitful discrimination.