Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Arizona Marriage Amendment -- Myths and Fables from the Opposition

In reviewing the arguments against Proposition 102 it is apparent that the opposition frequently resorts to myths and fables with no real substance. Rather than acknowledge that a real issue exists and that there is main stream, substantial support for Proposition 102, the Marriage Amendment, the critics resort to catch phrases and propaganda.

From Wikipedia:

Propaganda is a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of large numbers of people. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense presents information in order to influence its audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the cognitive narrative of the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.

Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.

Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O'Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion

Here are some of the oppositions' myths and fables:

Myth #1:
Arizona law already prohibits same-sex marriage and so there is no need for the Constitutional Amendment.

California already had a state law defining marriage but the California Court held the law to be unconstitutional, that is the Court placed the rights of same-sex couples to have their relationship called a "marriage" on the same basis as the freedom of speech, religion and assembly. If you understand the ruling from the California Supreme Court, you can see that the only way to limit the courts' continued expansion of these so-called rights, is at the constitutional level. Hundreds of organizations, many of them international in nature, appeared in the California Court case in favor of finding the California Law unconstitutional and legalizing same-sex marriage. It is entirely naive to believe that these proponents of same-sex marriage would not target the current Arizona law and any other state law not supported by a constitutional provision.

Myth #2:
Proposition 102 is religiously motivated and therefore should not be passed.

Restated this myth says that voters should not consider any religiously motivated laws. The proponents of this position oppose any religious involvement in government. They advocate not just freedom of religion, but freedom from religion. The opponents imply that since marriage has only a religious basis, religious organizations have no right to be heard on this subject (or any other) in our society.

Myth #3:
The passage of Proposition 102 would "discriminate" against members of our society.

To argue that Proposition 102 would discriminate while at the same time argue that Arizona already has a prohibition against same-sex marriage and that Proposition 102 is not needed, is double talk. The real issue is that the proponents of same-sex marriage presently see the possibility of overturning the statutory law in Arizona through the Courts. That option would be limited through the passage of Proposition 102. It was only because the California Court broadly expanded the definition of discrimination that the Court could find their law "discriminatory." The California Court broadened the definition merely because they believed that same-sex couples had a right to feel good about themselves and their relationship while at the same time the Court acknowledged that under California law, same-sex couples already had access to virtually every program and protection offered to married couples. The California case wasn't about rights, it was about labels. Since the current Arizona law does not recognize "same-sex" marriage as a protected class, Proposition 102 cannot, by definition, discriminate.

Myth #4:
Government should not be in the marriage business.

This position is essentially the same as the one claiming that Proposition 102 is religiously motivated. This same line of reasoning can be used to ultimately do away with any government regulation. Government is in the "marriage business." Historically, regulation of marriage relationships and marriage licenses have been part of our society and government for hundreds of years. However, this statement reveals that the opponents of Proposition 102 really would like to overrule the existing laws in Arizona, the very laws they say makes the Constitutional Amendment unnecessary. Arizona is a community property state. Entire structures of our state laws, not to mention the foundations of our society are consistent with the definition contained in Proposition 102. Everything from divorce laws to probate laws derive many of their provisions from the assumed definition of marriage. All of these interrelated laws do not reflect any one particular religion or belief, they do, however, reflect a social/economic unit that has been recognized in our legal system for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Marriage has long been a civil as well as a religious relationship. To say that government has no role to play in the establishment and definition of marriage, would have all of us start over with an entirely foreign and untried system of laws, completely different than those presently established. Proponents of same-sex marriage would have us throw away all of these laws, just so they can feel good about their personal choices.

Myth #5:
There are other things more important than marriage and so why don't we just ignore what is happening around us and focus on some other issue?

There are few things more important to our society than marriage and the family. If this issue is so unimportant why have hundreds of national and international organizations poured money into Arizona, Florida and California to defeat these proposals?

Myth #6:
Arizona voters are once again being forced to vote on Proposition 102 and voters defeated this measure two years ago.

First of all, no one in the United States, including Arizona, is forced to vote. Secondly, Proposition 102 is a new proposition and, in this form, has never been before the voters in Arizona. Equating Proposition 102 with the former Proposition is dishonest.

Myth #7:
Proposition 102 has been proposed by a small group of right-wing extremists.

Clearly Proposition 102 is a main stream issue. It is the proponents of same-sex marriage who are the extremists. They are the ones who want to change society to fit their own image and who would impose their value system and their lifestyle choices on the vast majority of Arizona's citizens. This statement is what is known as a "big lie" in propaganda. The opponents of Proposition 102 can't have it both ways, they can't maintain that the Marriage Amendment is religiously motivated and at the same time claim that it is the invention of right-wing extremists. Apparently, the opponents would like to define religious people as right-wing extremists.

Myth #8:
Proposition 102 is a mean-spirited attack on a minority.

Everyone is part of some minority. This statement is a thinly veiled attempt to somehow link same-sex marriage to the Civil Rights movement. How can the passage of a law that the opponents claim is entirely unnecessary, be a "mean spirited" attack on anyone, much less a group that defines itself? Those opposing Proposition 102 have initiated a mean spirited attack on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a minority.

Voting for Proposition 102 will somehow affect the Arizona economy.

This is about the limit of irresponsible accusations. The opponents claim that the law is already clear in Arizona and the Marriage Amendment is not needed and, at the same time, really want someone to believe that its passage will affect the economy of our state? 27 states have already passed similar constitutional amendments and only seven jurisdictions, in the entire world, (California, Massachusetts and five foreign nations — Canada, South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain) authorize same-sex couples to marry. If this statement were true, we would expect the economies of all of these seven jurisdictions to be booming. Right?

Myth #10:
The passage of Proposition 102 will result in taking away benefits already established under Arizona law.

As the California Court noted in its decision, there was and is, in California, virtually no legal difference between a domestic partnership and a married couple. Although Arizona has not chosen to follow California in applying a broad definition of domestic partnership, the laws already in force in Arizona have not resulted in a diminishing any individual rights. It is interesting that the opponents would like you to believe that the law is not needed because it duplicates existing law, while also claiming that passage of Proposition 102 will take away benefits. Those proponents of same-sex marriage want to broaden the benefits and rights. The opponents would like those "rights" to continue to expand at the expense of the majority married couples. This is a hollow argument without substance.

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