Proposition 8 is for a constitutional amendment that would overturn the California Supreme Court decision that ended the prohibition against the marriage of same-sex couples. Gretchen Bender showed up to speak against the measure. Gretchen, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in Sacramento County, is currently the president of the Sacramento County School Board of Education.
Same-sex marriage is one of those hot button issues that bring out religious right activists. The voters of California passed Proposition 22 in 2000. That was an initiative statute that barred same sex marriage. It was not a constitutional amendment. The Supreme Court overturned that measure—hence the desire of opponents of same-sex marriage to pass a constitutional amendment this time around. However, Gretchen claimed that there has been a shift in public opinion towards a more gay-friendly stance during the past eight years and that there is a good chance that Proposition 8 will be defeated. This is in spite of the fact that the proponents are outspending the opponents. More members of the public see discrimination against homosexuals as a civil rights issue. The inability to marry has had many negative effects, such as the denial of hospital visitation rights and the inability to file joint income tax returns. These are only the tip of the iceberg.
The HAGSA audience was clearly sympathetic with the speaker and with her position.
Report prepared by Wayne Luney, Program Chair