The Debate of Proposition 8

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Should sexual preference determine marriages? This is the ongoing debate our generation will have to address. California has been in the epicenters of this debate; as we witnessed voters oppose gay marriage in the elections of 2008. The success of Proposition 8 discriminated against those of homosexual orientation. Proposition 8 adjusted California’s marriage laws to prevent a change in language, favoring the majority of heterosexual America. As California’s constitution in article 1, section 7.5 reads, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California" (California Marriage Protection Act). This perception of marriage adopted to be law is built upon gender identity ideals that men and women have to fulfill. Women are to marry that of the opposite gender and sex. Accordingly, the language used to describe marriage was contorted by gender ideals in the fight for Proposition 8. Those for Proposition 8 argued it would restore the definition of marriage. From this perspective, marriage is seen as a tradition that is natural and immutable. To the contrary, the argument against Proposition 8 states, “OUR CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION—the law of our land—SHOULD GUARANTEE THE SAME FREEDOMS AND RIGHTS TO EVERYONE—NO ONE group SHOULD be singled out to BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY” (Official California Legislative Information). Marriage is a right that cannot be exercised by all due to sexual preference. Gay and lesbians are discriminated based on societies resistance to amend the definition of marriage past sexual preference. Additionally, the language used to describe marriage and the roles of individuals, is a major outlining factor behind the issue itself. Analyzing the language used in both arguments allows us to delve further into this question and expose why Proposition 8 should have been abolished. Proposition 8 is simply a resistance to change in language in how we come to define marriage. “Typically, language changes as a result of social political and economic processes such as lifestyle changes, new experiences, counters with technologies and communication media, colonization, or migration” (Litosseliti 19). Although political action may try to slow down this historical ongoing change in language, just as the world changes, so will the language. Marriage will eventually cease to be defined by the standards of sexual preference. In such, the argument against Proposition 8 holds more validity than those in favor of it.

Those opposed to Proposition 8 rely on California’s constitution promise for equal rights and freedom to every person, gays included. This allowed those opposed to use powerful words associated with civil rights such as, equality, dignity, freedom, and respect. These are portrayed to the audience from a gay language lending more of feminine like characteristics of care, nurture, and support. This gay language serves a purpose in relaying the message to oppose Proposition 8. As scholar Don Kulick believes, “…homosexual slang serves communicative functions, the most important of which is to ‘reinforce group cohesiveness and reflect common interests, problems, and needs of the population’ (Sonenschein 1969:289)” (Kulick 250). They used the gay slang as to draw attention from all gay and lesbians to feel connected. They refer to themselves as the “gay community”. This self maintained identity allows them to reach out to all gays and lesbians. For instance, there is a great example in YouTube, where the protest against Proposition 8 continues. In their advertisement they are promoting the Eve of Justice March for gay rights. In the video words displayed are “if you believe…” followed by the alternating words such as life, happiness, kindness, beauty, compassion, and love. These words of sentiment and support are a prime example of the gay language inducing activism throughout the gay community. “In constructing particular subject positions for the readers or viewers, advertisements play a role...
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