Jana Barber holds a sign during a rally to celebrate the ruling to overturn Prop 8I could almost hear the celebrations 170 miles away in San Francisco after the news broke that a federal judge had found California's infamous Proposition 8 -- which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, thereby taking away homosexuals' existing right to marry -- unconstitutional.

My colleague, DailyFinance columnist Abigail Field, did an admirable job explaining the legal technicalities of the ruling, and it's gratifying to see how thoroughly Judge Vaughn Walker demolished the "logic" of the proponents of Prop 8 and showed that same-sex unions are as legitimate as heterosexual marriages.

True, the case will doubtless be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, conveniently right there in San Francisco, and eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court. But today, it's a victory for marriage equality and simple human decency: recognizing that people don't choose their gender, that gender doesn't determine marital worthiness or success, and that California has no legitimate interest in stigmatizing lesbians and gays or denying them and their children whatever benefits there may be from legal marriage.

Why Such Fear of Same-Sex Marriage?

I've never understood why so many straight people fear homosexuals so deeply. A line from the trailer of the film 8: The Mormon Proposition quotes an opponent of same-sex marriage as saying, "They're probably the greatest threat to America that I know of." How does one even begin to react to that? What could possibly be the reasoning behind that? None, just superstition and stereotypes.

I once asked my stepfather, in an argument about gay marriage, "When did you choose to be heterosexual?" Or for that matter, when did he choose to be a male? Because if the contention is that homosexuals stubbornly and naughtily choose to be gay, logically the rest of us must have chosen to be straight. And picked out our skin and eye color as well. Who would choose to be a class of person likeliest to suffer discrimination, social disapproval, threats of eternal damnation and, depending on where you live, the death penalty?

One of my married colleagues at Bloomberg News, back in the day, used to put in her email signature: "My marriage is not threatened by gay marriage." What scary thing would happen if gays all over America could marry? Aside from resuscitating the wedding industry, that is? A study by a UCLA think tank found gay marriage in Massachusetts has resulted in $100 million in economic gains for the state. Stop me before I pull out all the studies finding gays and straights equally capable of good parenting and long-term relationships.

Let's face it, if marriage is under assault, it's not by gays. Marriage rates are dropping, and the only groups clamoring for it are gays and lesbians.

A Deeply Emotional Issue

Given my conservative Christian upbringing, I understand, of course, that same-sex unions are a deeply felt, emotional issue for many people, who just will not be persuaded, no matter what logic or evidence is presented, because their opposition to it is based on religious dogma -- and perhaps discomfort with the idea of same-sex attraction. But really, isn't it a bit unseemly to get so hung up about what other consenting adults do in their own bedrooms, away from your prying eyes?

And as Judge Vaughn Walker said in his 138-page ruling, "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians ... the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples ... the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional."

Jeff Key holds the flag above his head as advocates for gay marriage rally on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake CityI like comedian Wanda Sykes's take on the issue: "If you don't believe in same-sex marriage, then don't marry somebody of the same sex." It really should be that simple. People are people. Most of us, at some point, long to form a lasting union with a partner with whom to share the ups and downs of life. Is it so terrible for gays to have that, too?

So, how did I celebrate the overturning of Prop 8? I finally wrote that letter that I've long been meaning to write, the one where I resign my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The church's role in encouraging members to contribute time and money to get Prop 8 passed in California in 2008 deeply upset me.

The most lasting lesson I learned as a Mormon was to follow my conscience, no matter what. So, I had no choice but to renounce my membership as a tiny symbolic act of solidarity with gays and lesbians, and to protest the blatant interference in politics by a tax-exempt religious institution.

The rest of my celebration will be watching 8: The Mormon Proposition. I've moved it to the top of my Netflix (NFLX) queue.

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"Who would choose to be a class of person likeliest to suffer discrimination...?” Who would choose to be an alcoholic, drug abuser, criminal, pedophile - You make it sound as if people are powerless to change. Isn't personal choice a basis of religion, which you, Ms. Todd, apparently "had no choice but to renounce"?

August 06 2010 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Someone held a different belief than you and it "deeply upset you"? Usually I say live and let live. But more often than not Gays and Lesbians refuse to give the same understanding to different lifestyles (religous for example or those with a different view from theirs) that they themsleves want everyone else to give them. You have a similar attitude that comes through in your comments as well -- assuming disagreement on this issue is due to discomfort with same sex relationships as if the opposite argument from yours has no other valid basis. Also I am not sure what the issue of same sex marriage has to do with "what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom". After all, gays and lesbians are already doing whatever they want in the privacy of their own bedroom -- the argument over same sex marriage is not about sex --it is about legal rights and benefits afforded to married couples. Many Americans consider the defintion of marriage based on religous viewpoints. That shouldn't be considered unusual in a country that was founded on many religous principles. For gays and lesbians to brush this off as homophobic or without merit is just another example of how they think disagreeing views from their own do not deserve the respect they want for themselves. The issue also goes far beyond the "privacy of a bedroom" when we hear of schools trying to teach children that this type of relationship is normal -or at least incorporate it into the curriculum so that it comes across as the norm --even though that may not be the belief of the child's family and their religion. Teaching children in school that same sex marriages are normal is no different than teaching them in school that same sex marriages are wrong. So, the issue goes far beyond the simple argument you made of "in the privacy of their own bedroom."

August 05 2010 at 9:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

God himself condemns the practice of homosexuality.

I always like to verify sources so I would appreciate knowing if God spoke to you directly and if so, whether it verbally or an Email.

August 05 2010 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Ft Bragg farm of the MendoHealing Cooperative was raided Wednesday February 11 by a dozen agents led by the USDEA. The raid is a direct blow to the concept that cooperatives are the answer to legal cultivation under Prop 215 in the post-Mentch era and the new Obama administration.
The raiders arrived mid-morning and smashed doors, broke locks and trashed private belongings.
Arrested were operators David Moore, 55 of San Francisco and Jean Marie Todd, 52 of Fort Bragg along with three employees. The pair admits they had about 700 plants plus clones, the product destined for a dispensary in Los Angeles with 600 patients.
Moore and Todd were released the same day on bail. They were told they would be charged with cultivation for sale.
Moore owns the land. He is on federal probation in connection with a previous conviction for cultivation for sale.
His partner, Jean Marie Todd, formed the cooperative several months ago. She says she took care to conform with state guidelines, informed local law enforcement of the cooperative's presence, and asked whether it was legal, but never heard back from them.
Moore was preoccupied with "doing it right," and had hired a lawyer who wrote the text on California co-op law to help him restructure MendoHealing.
On the way to jail Jean Marie commented, "I thought Obama had called off these raids." A deputy responded, "We haven't gotten the message.

August 05 2010 at 12:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

An UNHOLY matrimony!

August 05 2010 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kevin's comment

that depends on who you ask.....

August 05 2010 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Like the abortion issue marriage issue may become another dividing the country.As it seem's it void's democracy,voters rights.Right or wrong, you need to bring the country with you on important culture issues.We defend other cultures strange activities to a fault, however it seem to the majority of americans their culture is free to be destroyed, the progressives defend Muslim culture at every turn a culture that has no comparison to progressive politics.And has some strange ideas about marriage and the treatment of the spouse/woman.

August 05 2010 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe you didnt get to choose your gender, but God did and He is perfect. God does not make mistakes. Everyone has weaknesses, but that doesnt mean we cant overcome them. God himself condemns the practice of homosexuality. Why try to transform this great country into a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah? And you, claiming to be a conservative Christian, want to legalize this practice which clearly is against what God has commanded (for good reason too...he only wants us to be happy, so he has given us commandments to help us be happy. He definitely knows better than we do, and you have to be pretty arrogant to think you know better than he does).

Bringing up the ridiculous Prop 8 movie which is full of quotes taken out of context just to throw the blame to a scape goat, which happens to be the Mormon church, is a pretty dishonorable thing to do. Everyone has the right to vote for themselves, thankfully more people in this state are for keeping the commandments of God, than aren't. I dont know about you, but I think thats a good thing

August 05 2010 at 11:09 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The phrase "simple human decency" strikes me as somewhat misleading.

August 05 2010 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I never knew this blog was now one to encourage certain points of views. How can you even begin to speak on this issue and attempt to discuss the scientific, religious, and social issues when this is a finance blog (correct me, and the URL if we're wrong)?

Anyway, everyone has opinions and I guess that's what a blog is, subjective opinions. Glad you had your win, enjoy it (and I'm not saying that with sarcasm because I really don't care if this gets overturned or whatever - as a devout Christian, I'll live my life that way and not ask the government to have the same moral principles I hold, even if it was founded that way).

August 05 2010 at 10:34 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Married, but in who's eyes? Call it what you want, but it will never be right.

August 05 2010 at 10:14 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply