Thursday, October 16, 2008

Frantic pro-Prop. 8 mailers

Twenty-five million dollars have been spent to boost an enormous campaign in favor of Prop. 8 here in California. I just got one of their mailers yesterday. The rhetoric comes off as truly frightening to all church-going, child-raising, conservative-value-cherishing Californians. Activist judges are out of control. Children will be indoctrinated in the second grade. Churches will be stripped of their rights. It goes on and on.

Except I keep seeing stuff on the mailer that contradicts known facts. For instance, you open it up to this headline:

In May of this year, four activist judges on the Supreme Court in San Francisco ignored four million voters and imposed same-sex marriage on California. Their ruling means it is no longer about 'tolerance.'

Hmm. One problem is they fail to mention that three out of four of these "activist judges" were appointed by Republican governors. These "activist judges" are:

Chief Justice Ronald M. George--Gov. Wilson (Republican), 1991
Assoc. Justice Joyce L. Kennard--Gov. Deukmejian (Republican), 1989
Assoc. Justice Carlos R. Moreno--Gov. Davis (Democrat), 2001
Assoc. Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar--Gov. Wilson (Republican), 1994

They also fail to mention that before this ruling, the California state legislature had already voted twice in favor of full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. The legislature took the lead on this one, not "judicial activism." And since California state law had already granted gay and lesbian domestic partners all the legal benefits and responsibilities of married couples, the court's decision was simply about whether there was any constitutional reason to deny the label of "marriage" to such couples. Three out of the six conservative-appointed judges on the CA Supreme Court apparently thought there wasn't.

Then there's this claim on the flyer:

Same-sex marriage threatens the education of our children. After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, public schools began to teach school children about gay marriage. After second graders were read a story in which a prince married another prince, some parents complained. A court ruled that they had NO RIGHT to withdraw their children from classes that taught gay marriage. And since California law already provides children as young as kindergarten be taught about marriage, gay marriage will be taught in our schools too!

Sounds scary, right? So scary that you forget that Prop. 8 has nothing to do with educational policy in public schools. At all. It's about whether gay civil unions, which are already recognized by the state of California as equivalent to marriage relationships in just about every legal aspect except in name, should be called "marriages."

But what about down the road? What if inappropriate sex education gets taught to our children in public schools? I don't know about Massachusetts law, but the California Education Code says parents have every right to excuse their children from public school sex education. Read it for yourself:

Article 5. Education Code sections 51937, 51938—
Notice and Parental Excuse
Many of the parent notification requirements from the prior sex education and HIV/AIDS instruction codes have been retained and moved to this section. Education Code Section 51938 retains a parent's right to excuse their child from all or part of comprehensive sexual health education or HIV/AIDS instruction and any assessments related to that education. Parents are to be notified:

• about instruction that is planned for the coming year in comprehensive sexual health education, HIV/AIDS prevention education, and research on pupil health behaviors and risks. This notification is to be at the beginning of the school year or at the time of enrollment for a new student.
• that written and audiovisual materials are available for inspection
• if instruction will be taught by school district personnel or outside consultants
• of their right to request a copy of this chapter
• that they may request in writing that their child not receive comprehensive sexual health education or HIV/AIDS instruction

But what if the California Education Code changes to strip parents of these rights? Well, obviously that's the time to start screaming and hollering about "our rights" as parents and sending out panicky mailers about the "threat to the education of our children." The thing not to do is to send out mailers implying that parents will have "NO RIGHT" to withdraw their children from sex education classes, when in fact they currently do have that right in very explicit terms.

There's more misleading stuff on the mailer I'd like to talk about, but I've got to pick up my oldest kid from public school now. More on this later.