A "yes" vote on Proposition 8 will restore marriage in California as it has traditionally been understood in society. A "yes" vote will not violate anyone's rights. Individuals who have entered into same-sex partnerships are already granted by law the same rights and benefits as married spouses.
Regardless of various rituals and expressions, marriage has always embraced the concept of man and woman in a context of procreation for the continuation of the human species. The ancient pre-history stories of Genesis capture this reality: "Male and female He created them." (Gen.1:27) "God blessed them saying, 'Be fertile and multiply.' " (Gen.1:28)
Likewise, throughout history, civil laws have been written with that understanding of marriage. While the family has assumed numerous variations, none can cancel out the concept of family as rooted in father, mother and children. Blended families, single parents and adoptive families, often heroic in preserving a family unit, are psychologically and sociologically grounded in that paradigm of marriage.
For over 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has held that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman and has taught that marriage and married love, as a whole, are essentially and intrinsically ordained to the creation of life.
Not voting "yes" on Proposition 8 could have serious consequences:
With the emphasis placed on the contractual relationship between two individuals, the place of children in a marriage is relegated to a secondary position. Current studies show that the optimum reality for children is their natural mother and father in a low-conflict relationship.
Churches and other institutions which do not conform to the civil definition of marriage, now defined constitutionally as a right, could experience severe legal repercussions. Clergy who refuse to perform same-sex marriages might lose their state authorization to witness marriages. Contractual agreements between religious social service agencies and the state for services in the community, especially for the poor, could be put in jeopardy.
Parents might find that what they teach their children about the purpose, importance and benefit of marriage is contradicted by state law.
The door is opened for an ever-changing definition of the reality of marriage in order to adjust to the demands of those who seek to have their relationships recognized as marriage by the constitution.
For the well being of society and for the good of the family, Proposition 8 should be supported. A "yes" vote protects the nature and dignity of marriage.
Blaire is bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton.