Cavala: ‘Yes On 8’ Campaign Confuses Church and State and is Based on Lies


“This is the moment when traditional marriage will either live or die”. So writes Frank Schubert, the “brains” behind the ‘Yes on 8’ campaign that seeks to overturn the California Supreme Court decisions that extended marriage rights to same sex couples.

Since Prop 8 doesn’t affect “traditional” marriage at all, this argument seems fallacious to me.

Schubert would argue, I presume, that marriage is a religious ceremony (he’s a Roman Catholic) and, as such, should be governed by religious rites. In fact, marriage is a civil rite. But one where we allow religious authorities to conduct the ceremony – unifying church and state as the couple requests.

But while all marriages are civil, not all marriages are religious. Judges marry couples. Even Members of the Legislature preside over marriages.

Clearly the Roman Catholic Church – which opposes the marriage of same-sex couples – would not extend their rites regardless of the fate of Prop 8. Just as they deny marriage in the Church to Protestants and ex-communicates. Their right to do so is protected by the First Amendment.

But to deny civil marriage to same sex couples in the name of “traditional marriage” seems to me to violate the prohibition against establishing a state religion.

In Sunday’s Bee, Marcos Breton writes: “Schubert found his inspiration at a Southern California focus group meeting in early September when an African American man – and Barack Obama supporter – reacted angrily to the idea of gay marriage being taught to kids in public school.”

This argument for Prop 8 is about as close to a flat out lie as you can get. The ballot arguments were submitted to the Attorney General and had this marriage in the schools issue in them then. There was litigation over the language and Schubert lost in court on this one.

For some reason, Breton is giving Schubert a victory lap, asking the question: “So why is there a good chance Prop 8 will pass on Nov. 4, thereby striking down gay marriage in California?”

Problem is, the Field Poll says Prop 8 losing as does PPIC poll. The Yes campaign is still hovering in the 40s is not good for a yes campaign. The Field Poll has been right about initiatives 94% of the time.

Breton goes on to assert that Schubert is “the Oz” behind the yes on Prop 8 campaign and talks about all the money he has at his disposal and that he is “a veteran of many campaigns that he always wins.”

The problem here is he lost on Prop 5 in 2002 and his track record is on corporate campaigns mostly – tobacco insurance etc. He is in uncharted waters with a hot button issue like gay marriage. And he’s been overtaken in the money race (No on 8 has several million more than Prop 8 as of this weekend). His prior wins are based on overwhelming financial advantage (tobacco, phrma) which he does not have on this campaign.

Then Breton says: “Campaigns are also about winning, and gay marriage supporters have been slow to hit back. “It’s as if they don’t know time is running out – or that the guy on the other side is great at what he does.”

I guess he missed the ads where the No folks have hit back with Jack O’Connell, the state’s top educator. And now Shubert is having to respond to that ad which he would not be doing unless these ads were hitting hard.

And the No on 8 campaign has put the new Yes ad under attack–the parents of the children featured in the ad are outraged that their kids have been used.

The arguments against Prop 8 all come down to one thing: should it be legal to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. The Catholic and the Mormon Churches can retain their right to discriminate vis-à-vis Membership and the rites of marriage they employ for that Membership without withholding the right of Civil Marriage to same-sex couples.

It’s troubling to see arguments that appeal to religious intolerance appear in 21st century America – especially when we as a nation are the target of such intolerance on the part of radical Islam.

Bill Cavala was Deputy Director of the Assembly Speaker’s Office of Member Services where he worked for over 30 years. He attended undergraduate and graduate school in the 1960’s and received a doctorate in political science at UC Berkeley. He taught political science at UC Berkeley during the 1970’s while he worked part-time for the State Assembly.

Cavala left teaching at UC Berkeley for Assembly Speaker Willie Brown in 1981 until his tenure as Speaker ended in 1995, and he has worked for his five successors as Speaker. He now manages election campaigns for Democratic candidates.


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