There’s been a lot of talk about “God’s will” and the upcoming vote on California’s Proposition 8.
The latest to invoke God in trying to get the measure passed is Rick Warren, a televangelist and bestselling author.
I’m an author too, so Warren’s words got my attention. They sent me on a mission to look for other times in history when arguments like this have been used.
Warren said, “This is not a political issue, it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about. There is no doubt where we should stand on this issue."
Warren is telling his followers to vote yes on 8, which would eliminate the current right of same sex couples to marry in California. Warren is joined by the Mormon Church, which has poured millions of dollars from out of state into an advertising campaign aimed at changing our law.
There’s a great deal of historical precedent for passing laws to remove the marriage rights of minority groups. As you prepare to vote on Prop 8, I thought it would be interesting to share with you some past examples. Just as Warren has done, all of these past marriage bans claimed to be following God’s will.
"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."
--Judge Leon Bazile, Caroline County Virginia, 1959, in his ruling that sentenced Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter Loving to one year in prison for marrying in violation of segregation laws. Mildred was part African-American. Richard was white.
"It is my conviction that the fundamental trouble with the people of the United States is that they have gotten too far away from Almighty God."
--U.S. President Warren G. Harding. He signed into law The Cable Act of 1922, which revoked the citizenship of any American woman who married an Asian.
"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."
--Adolf Hitler on September 5, 1935 when he signed the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, which prevented any subjects of Germany or related heritage from marrying Jews.
Ultimately, all of these acts of discrimination and hate were seen for what they really were. They no longer exist. But for a time they were the law of the land: Asians, African-Americans, women, and Jews restricted from marriage.
So as you enter the voting booth this Tuesday, ask yourself one simple question. Which side of history do you want to be on?
I urge you to vote NO on Proposition 8.
Kemble Scott is the author of the bestselling novel SoMa, finalist for the national Lambda Literary Award.