Write 4 page essay on the topic Proposition 8 in California: Fracturing Communities and Stepping back on Minority Rights.Download file to see previous pages…
This legislation had a huge scope and significant negative impact: it removed rights from a significant proportion of the Californian population, divided the community, and represented a significant step backwards by removing rights from people who already had them. The scope of proposition 8 is hard to overestimate. Many population estimates state that the gay population is somewhere around one in ten people amongst the general population (Robison), and it may be higher in California, a relatively liberal state with gay enclaves like San Francisco. This means that the number of people directly affected by this legislation is likely somewhere in the three million people range – given that California has a population of thirty million and about one in ten people in the general population is gay. But what does it really matter if people are allowed to marry? Well, unmarried couples, even if they have been together for decades, are denied several important rights. These include the right to death-bed visitation outside of normal visiting hours at hospitals, the ability to make decisions regarding partner’s health care and finances, the ability to inherit when a will is not present or invalid, and the ability to save money on taxes by filing jointly (Larson). So this legislation removed many important rights from a huge amount of people in California. While the scope of this legislation and its direct impact are obvious and hard to refute, the wider societal effects may be more important but harder to directly quantify. For one thing, this was a very divisive issue that split the country in a lot of different ways. Firstly, it was simply divisive, eliciting strong opinions on both sides (Smith), including some very ugly campaigning by both sides that attacked the other. Secondly, it was divisive simply within the population dynamics, with approximately half of the population voting for Proposition 8, and approximately half of the population voting against it – showing further that it create a significant divide between the populations of California. Finally, it was geographically divisive: the places that voted for it were very different for the places that voted against it. The coastal regions, with high populations and relatively liberal politics, voted overwhelmingly against Proposition 8 (thereby trying to protect gay rights) while the majority of the inland, more conservative areas voted for it by a significant margin (Smith). This further reinforces urban/rural divides in a state where they are already significant, and gives each group a reason to dislike and distrust the other further. It is also important to note that these issues have not simply quietly settled since Proposition 8 passed, but it has continued to serve as a rallying cry for both sides in trying to defeat the other even to this day – and is unlikely to go away, even if it is removed. Proposition 8 has created significant long term divides in California’s society.
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