Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Questions raised over Yes on Prop. 8 ads - San Jose Mercury News

Questions raised over Yes on Prop. 8 ads - San Jose Mercury News

By Mike Swift
Mercury News

Article Launched: 10/18/2008 06:46:00 PM PDT

Widely distributed television and radio ads warn California voters of two dramatic consequences if they don't approve a ban on same-sex marriage in November: "Churches could lose their tax exemption," and "gay marriage taught in public schools."

Not exactly true, say legal experts and state education officials.

A second, more recent ad by the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign shows a young girl rushing to tell her mother that she learned in school that she could marry another girl. "When Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, schools began teaching second graders that boys can marry boys," law professor Richard Peterson warns in the second ad. A "Yes" vote on Proposition 8 would short-circuit those threats, the two ads say.

"It's unnecessarily and irresponsibly alarmist," Hilary McLean, press secretary for Jack O'Connell, California's state schools chief, said of the ads. While local school boards could add marriage classes to their curriculums, there would be no statewide mandate to do so. Legal experts also say the ads are misleading in their warnings to religious organizations.

"No church is at any risk of losing its tax-exempt status if it refuses to perform same-sex weddings," said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California-Irvine.

Many of the examples the Yes on 8 campaign cites to support its charges happened in states where same-sex marriage is not legal, or invoke cases that involve sexual



orientation, but have nothing to do with marriage.

To support its claim that churches' tax-exempt status could be at risk, the Yes on 8 campaign cited a New Jersey case where same-sex couples who wanted to have a commitment ceremony were denied use of a beach pavilion owned by a Methodist-affiliated organization. The state, saying the pavilion was not open to the public on an equal basis, revoked the tax-exempt status of the pavilion — but not the organization, nor the rest of its property.

The manager of the Yes on 8 campaign, Frank Schubert, acknowledged that constitutional protections for religious practice protect a church's tax-exempt status.

"A church would be very likely permitted to refuse to perform a gay wedding in the church with no risk to their tax exemption," Schubert said in a written statement. "But if the church rents out property to the public for use as a wedding site, they could not prohibit a gay couple from renting that property for the wedding."

A Massachusetts case is the basis of the campaign's allegation that same-sex marriage will be taught to young children unless Prop. 8 passes. The TV ad is based on a Lexington, Mass., case in which an elementary school teacher read the book "King & King", a children's book that describes a prince who marries another prince.

David and Tonia Parker were one of two couples who sued the school system after their kindergarten-aged son brought home a book from school titled, "Who's In a Family?" It shows families that include two women with children, saying such families are "just fine."

A federal judge ruled against the Parkers and the other couple in 2007, but Parker said parents — not educators — should make moral judgments for young child.

"It would be like me coming into an elementary school and saying, 'I have a Christian family, now we have to talk about Jesus Christ,' " he said. "Gay marriage is being used as a battering ram against parental rights."

The No on 8 campaign ads have generally focused on the general theme that marriage should be equally available to everyone, both gay and straight, avoiding specific legal claims.

The issue of whether children would be forced to learn about same-sex marriage came up as the two sides in Prop. 8 battled in state court this summer about ballot arguments that the Secretary of State distributed to voters.

"Current state law does not require school districts to teach anything about marriage or same-sex marriage at any grade level," wrote Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley. However, Frawley noted a school district could choose to include such instruction.

In California, public schools do not have formal instruction on marriage until high school. McLean also said California has a stronger "opt-out" provision, which allows parents to withdraw their children from any school instruction, than Massachusetts. Children's books such as "Who's In a Family?" could not be used in a class without the approval of a local school board, she said.

Legal experts said that whatever voters decide with Prop. 8, that there is broad emerging battle ahead between religious liberty and gay rights, a conflict wider than same-sex marriage which could spill into parochial schools, church-related human service organizations, and other areas where religious organizations interact with secular society.

"There will certainly be major clashes," said Marc Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Congress.

Contact Mike Swift at (408) 271-3648 or mswift@mercurynews.com.

1 comment:

Simma Lieberman said...

Why We Can’t Afford to Ban Same-Sex Marriage

A Date To Remember
On November 4, Californians will vote on whether or not to ban same sex marriage, which has been legal for the last six months. It is now legal in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
A Union of Economic Interests
While the US and the rest of the world are in the midst of an economic crisis, out-of-state special interest groups are pouring millions of dollars into California and flying people in to help pass Proposition 8, which would outlaw same-sex marriage. People are losing their retirement funds, worried about how they will afford health care and whether or not they will have a job when they wake up in the morning certain groups are more concerned with same-sex marriage in California. I must be missing something here. It seems to me that instead of sending money here to push their agenda, and interfering with our economy, they could use all of that “extra” money and help people in their own states who can no longer afford groceries, college, or health care.
Nuptials Nourish State's Coffers
Many businesses in California know what these out-of-state people may not yet know: same-sex marriage is good for business, and will bring extra revenue to California, as it has in Massachusetts. These are tough economic times for many people. Generally in this kind of economy people cut back on vacations, eating in restaurants and what they consider non-essentials like family photos, and flowers. But legalizing same-sex marriage can help replace some of that lost revenue and even increase profit for some of these businesses.
A Belief in MatriMoney
According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, at least $370 million per year will be added to the state economy. Business Pundit stated that if same-sex marriage were legal at the federal level there would be a benefit of nearly 1 billion dollars a year.
CBS news wrote on their site that there are approximately 100, 000

same-sex couples in the US and that one half will marry, along with 68,000 people from out-of-state. It is estimated that 2200 new jobs in California will be created as a result of legalized same-sex marriage.
LGBT people understand the power of the purse because they are excluding states where same-sex marriage is banned, saying they don’t want to give money to a state that discriminates against them. Instead they will spend their money in states that offer domestic partnerships or marriage for same sex couples.

Tying Knots Unties PursestringsWedding Cake Nourishes Everyone
The Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants are not only one of the top hotels for LGBT guests; it is also one of the top employers for LGBT employees. They have already provided domestic partner benefits for their employees.

Alan Baer, Senior Vice President for the Kimpton Hotel Chain spoke
with me about the ways in which Kimpton has fostered an inclusive

workplace where everyone is able to contribute and be part of the team. “Same-sex marriage will bring in more business. We have great wedding packages and there has been an increase in sales to same-sex couples. When they have their wedding celebration in one of our hotels, it usually means that more rooms will be filled with wedding guests.” He also predicts that if the ballot measure to forbid same-sex marriage fails, and same-sex marriage continues, there will be a big increase in weddings and receptions which can only be good for the hotel industry, our city and our State.”
The Hyatt Hotel Chain is another organization that has domestic partner benefits, and provides training for employees to ensure that LGBT guests feel welcomed. They even educate their employees when there are specific LGBT events. The Hyatt and Kimpton chains along with other hotels, vacation destinations, and cruise lines will reap the economic benefits of same-sex marriage. Their reputations in California
will continue to grow amongst LGBT people, family members and friends. Those people will spread the word and when they travel out or

state, they will stay at other properties with the same ownership.
Some of the other businesses that can benefit from legalized same-sex marriages include; photographers, limo drivers, tuxedo rentals, jewelers, caterers and florists. And city, state, and county governments will also benefit. Think of all the marriage licenses, and taxes that come with these added nuptials.

Macy’s had a full-page ad of support when the California Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage. Retailers like Macy’s will also benefit from the increased sales of wedding apparel and wedding gifts as more happy couples let their friends and families know they have registered at Macy’s.
Love and Marriage Go Together…
While people are out there campaigning against same-sex marriage, the

state of California is experiencing our own financial crisis, people are losing their jobs, services are getting cut, and people are having trouble
paying their mortgage. If same-sex marriage is good for business and good for our state, how can we afford to ban it?
"The Inclusionist"