Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Support Princeton Proposition 8

A message from Chris Simpson of Support Princeton Proposition 8
We believe that California's Proposition 8 is illegal and immoral. The use of a state-wide referendum to limit the rights of a minority group is the very sort of action the that the constitution ought to defend against. We hope to point out the danger and absurdity of that proposition by advocating for our own "Princeton Proposition 8" which will ban freshmen from walking on campus sidewalks. We hope to parallel the language and actions of the real Prop 8 as much as possible, as we believe the injustice speaks for itself and needs no exaggeration. We will be careful not to turn this into an attack on any particular group or organization, instead choosing to focus on the moral, legal, and logical reasons why Proposition 8 should be overturned.

Princeton Proposition 8.
Secures the Definition of Sidewalk. Eliminates Right of Freshmen Students to Walk on Sidewalks. Initiative Amendment.

This initiative measure expressly amends the bylaws of Princeton University by adding a section thereto; therefore, new provisions proposed to be added are printed in italic type to indicate that they are new.

SECTION 1. Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "Princeton Sidewalk Protection Act."

SECTION 2. A section shall be appended to all Princeton University regulations pertaining to the usage of sidewalks, footpaths, walkways, or other paved areas of pedestrian egress owned and maintained by Princeton University, to read:
Only walking on sidewalks by Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors is valid or recognized in Princeton.

Getting started
To kick-off the satirical campaign, we will begin postering this Tuesday night and will have a group demonstrating at a prominent campus location (TBD) from 9:30-5 every day, starting this Thursday. We will also be writing letters to The Daily Princetonian explaining our position and advocating for Princeton Prop 8. There will be a petition for students in favor of "Princeton Proposition 8" (and thus against California Proposition 8.)

We are looking for students who share our sentiments who will be willing to help us in any of the following ways:
Signing up for brief shifts to support our day-long demonstrations
Signing the petition
Hang paper posters (a daily task - they will be removed because we are not an official student organization)
Creating posters and signs for the demonstrations

Working with music, film, t-shirts, and other artistic media to get our point across
Writing letters in support of our cause to the campus publications and student government

To join the Facebook group: click here

To get involved, contact Support Princeton Proposition 8 at cjsimpso@princeton.edu


At November 19, 2008 at 1:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is such a good idea and actually seems that it will prove to be effective. i love equal writes!

At November 19, 2008 at 5:50 PM , Blogger Roscoe said...

If only the analogy were this simple. I'm not arguing for either side on this one, I have my own personal views about this whole gay marriage thing, and if you want to know them you can ask me.

However, this analogy is just baseless and actually highlights the fundamental difference between how people on the different sides of this argument view the issue. If for nothing else at all, this analogy will allow for numerous counterexamples and appeals to absurdity. If not THE main premise, it certainly is one of the more important ones, there is a view that marriage is a fundamental civil right, and then there are others that believe it is not, that marriage is not as easily equated to sidewalk privileges. Many people, on the other hand, do view it this simple. It would seem appalling to anyone that viewed marriage like this to prevent people from having it, that is obvious.

The most important thing to glean from this display is not that marriage is just as much of a right as the use of a sidewalk, rather that we take our assumptions for granted and fail to realize that maybe the reasons we disagree is not because one side is more open-minded than the other, or because one side has more hate than the other, but because we don't agree on some basic assumptions. And guess what the only way to agree on those assumptions are? If you said activism, public display and ultimately appeals to emotion, then you are gravely mistaken. The only way we can truly come to any sort of conclusion or agreement about this is through rational discourse and a deep and full understanding of all rational arguments, not just one of them.

At November 20, 2008 at 9:33 AM , Blogger Rohan said...

Roscoe, thanks for your comment. To add to the discussion, I have a question. Now I understand why people are upset about prop 8, as people who want to marry someone of the same sex cannot, but I do not agree that "the injustice speaks for itself and needs no exaggeration". For someone like me, someone not really involved in the gay-rights debate and generally indifferent, I need more explanation for this issue to galvanize me. My current view is that this "civil rights" struggle is hardly comparable to the struggles in America's past. For example, blacks fought for the right to eat in restaurants, the right to go to public stores, the right to vote, the right to freedom, etc. But all people today have the right to marry a person of the opposite sex. The argument that arises from the issue is not a function of civil right, but of marriage. To say "but all people do not have the right to marry the person they want". Well, all people do not have the right to carry a gun if they want, all people do not have the right to arrest people if they want, etc...I see how these are more extreme, but frankly, I find them to be quite similar. Please convince me that I am wrong, and maybe you can get more people on the side of your issue...I think the fact that gay-rights gets kicked to the curb is because advocates do not aim to educate and inform people, but seem to just "protest" in creative ways...this never works on its own.

At November 20, 2008 at 6:00 PM , Anonymous Thomas said...

I saw Rohan's comment and wanted to put a slightly different perspective on the issue. The protest around people being married to those of the same sex is by no means equivalent to the right to vote or other things that people have struggled for throughout America's history. The most striking parallel to me is marriage between Blacks and Whites. Until 1967 (Loving v. Virginia) people of different races were not allowed to get married to one another. The argument against interracial marriage seems to me to have many of the same arguments that we now see in the gay marriage issue. Protecting the sanctity of marriage, biblical reason, raising of children in mixed households are just a few of the similarities.

I'd like to understand how the present debate is different from the one around interracial marriage.

At November 20, 2008 at 6:02 PM , Blogger Sam said...

@Roscoe - this demonstration was never meant to be perfectly analogous to gay marriage, and we understand that it falls short in many ways. The point of the demonstration is to spur conversation and debate on campus about an issue that we feel strongly about, and I think in that respect it has been successful (see this article). Even if the conversation centers on how the metaphor is completely off base, a conversation is happening and this issue is being discussed in the open.

@Rohan - Boiling it down to an issue of rights: Men have the right to enter into a consensual marriage with a woman. Women have historically not been given this right. Women have the right to enter into a consensual marriage with a man. Men have not been given this right. This is gender discrimination.

There's my argument for. Personally I don't understand how anyone can defend a position against gay marriage (without religious arguments). In what way does recognizing a consensual committed relationship between two adults impinge on anyone else's rights?

At November 21, 2008 at 9:40 PM , Blogger Roscoe said...


Not that I think this is an especially good analogy, nor am I saying anyone other than myself holds this position, but this is how understand it. This is your argument:

"Men have the right to enter into a consensual marriage with a woman. Women have historically not been given this right. Women have the right to enter into a consensual marriage with a man. Men have not been given this right. This is gender discrimination."

To some, this is just as absurd as saying, "Women have the right to have an abortion. Men have historically not been given this right. This is gender discrimination."

You see, it is quite simple here to see the absurdity because men can't possibly have abortions. This is because the definition of abortion can only include women. Likewise, some people think that the definition of marriage itself inherently only includes heterosexuals. Hopefully this, while not changing your mind about same-sex marriage, may change your mind as to how to go about arguing with people on the other side.

At November 22, 2008 at 11:46 AM , Blogger Sam said...


That has nothing to do with the "definition" of abortion, it has everything to do with the fact that men can't physically have an abortion (because men can't physically be pregnant). Should a man ever become pregnant, I'm confident he would be given the same rights as a woman.

To be honest I find it difficult to think of another example in our society of a group of people being restricted simply because of a traditional "definition" (If you can come up with one let me know). It seems to me that this thinking blurs the line between civil and religious marriage. Civil rights (and civil marriage) do not and should not depend only on societal tradition. Religions may have their own standards for what defines a "marriage" in their tradition, but forcing this definition on all of society (much of whom doesn't subscribe to it) doesn't make sense.

At November 22, 2008 at 10:19 PM , Blogger LSG said...

I'm glad this is causing serious discussion!

@Rohan --

You point out that during the civil rights movement blacks were fighting for the right to eat in restaurants, vote, and so on (and, as Thomas rightly points out, to marry persons of other races). Then you say "all people today have a right to marry a person of the opposite sex." You quickly point out the possible objection to this statement -- that not all people have a right to marry a person of their choice. I just want to emphasize the importance of the qualifier "of the opposite sex." By positing that this qualifier does not restrict "rights," either you're saying that qualifiers in general do not restrict rights (which would lead to obviously ridiculous statements like "African-Americans have the right to marry any person of the same race"), or you are making the argument that this particular qualifier, "of the opposite sex" is particularly meaningful -- so meaningful that it overrides the natural qualifier, "of their choice". I think you're doing the second. If so, though, recognize that you're saying that marriage can only truly occur between persons of different sexes -- and if we eliminate religious arguments, that means you're saying that love, sex, long-term commitment and child-rearing can only occur between persons of different sexes. And that's a different argument and (again, if we eliminate religious arguments) a rather absurd one.

You are correct in saying that we can't label any action we wish to do as a "right." We don't have the right to carry an automatic weapon without a license, we don't have the right to prosecute a fellow citizen in a kangaroo court in our capacities as civilians. However, the reason that those things are not rights of individuals is because they can cause harm to other people -- they're only not rights because they would seriously infringe on other people's rights to safety, due process, ect.

If your "pursuit of happiness" doesn't infringe on another's "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness," then the Declaration of Independence calls it an inalienable right. Inalienable! If anyone could convince me that a gay man or woman's pursuit of happiness through marriage to their partner infringes on anyone else's rights, then they'll have a case against gay marriage.

I appreciate your willingness to be convinced, Rohan, and hope you will seriously investigate and consider that arguments!

At November 25, 2008 at 12:22 PM , Anonymous Dan said...


You ask how does SSM infringe on anybody else's rights. Perhaps there is a way to implement it that is less intrusive, but in practice it certainly has affected other people in profoundly negative ways. For some examples, please read the following article by Jennifer Roback Morse:

At December 2, 2008 at 11:36 AM , Blogger LSG said...


How dare we demand that marriages of same-sex couples be "less intrusive" than marriages of opposite-sex couples? Unless, of course, we are operating from the premise that same-sex couples are fundamentally less worthy, less legitimate, and less important than opposite-sex couples.

I have no patience for this article. Maybe I would win over more people by pretending to treat it as a serious argument worthy of consideration, but that would be disingenuous and (more importantly) would lend dignity to an line of reasoning that I find deeply objectionable at its base. I cannot pretend this article poses good points merely because it presents a point of view different from my own, and I hope readers will understand this.

To summarize, the article's argument is that while gay rights activists may present the struggle for gay marriage as a "narrow" right -- as in, all we want is to love the person of our choice, nothing more -- they are in fact creating a foundation that will allow the government to interfere in many more aspects of citizens' lives, including forcing them to violate their consciences or face punishment. The threats made are vague and the examples short, de-contextualized, and sensationalist -- a private school in trouble for punishing two female students for kissing! A wedding photographer sued for refusing to photograph two women's commitment ceremony! But to focus on dismantling the bad writing and dubious research is to shy away from addressing the emotion and belief at the root of the article.

It is not stated in so many words, but the article's true argument is this: gay rights activists are seeking not a narrow legal victory, but a fundamental societal change in the way we think about sexuality. They want to eliminate discrimination of all kinds based on sexual orientation. And the comprehensive elimination of anti-homosexual discrimination, the article strongly hints, will directly undermine society. The "rights" that the government will supposedly interfere in, if gay activists have their way, are the "rights" of others to discriminate against them -- at times shielded in the pious cloak of "religious freedom." This is obvious prejudice -- the entire argument is "if the government starts treating homosexual persons as if they are equal to heterosexual persons, it will infringe on my desire to treat them as if they are not equal." If that's what you think, own up to it. Don't pretend the issue here is "big government."

And let me say, in response to the article: in some ways, the author is absolutely right. Not about society crumbling if we treat homosexual people as people, but about my own motives. As a supporter of rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender human beings, I am not going to be satisfied with the defeat of Proposition 8. Nor do I believe for a second that blatant discrimination is a protected civil right -- even if you do have a verse in Leviticus and another in Corinthians to back you up. It is the last recourse of those who inflict their prejudices on others to claim that they are being persecuted when they are prevented from exercising their prejudice.

Gay rights will not infringe on your freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or any other constitutional right. It will, instead, affirm the commitment of the Declaration of Independence -- that all are equal, and that each and every person has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The gay rights movement is not trying to defeat American society, it is celebrating the promise of American society, and trying to make that promise true.


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