Dramatic Progressive Reforms and Evil Schemes on the California Ballot
This election, California voters have a huge opportunity -- and a special responsibility -- to vote on dramatic progressive reforms that will protect people's civil rights, and reject arbitrary and oppressive policies. The outcome of these measures have national implications; the fight over Proposition 8, a discriminatory attempt to ban same-sex marriage, is the focus of national attention. A wide array of liberal and progressive civil rights groups, unions and grass roots organizations are battling hard to stop the Christian Right's bigoted efforts to enshrine a doctrine of "separate but equal" in the state's constitution. Despite the Mormon Church's huge financial investment in destroying gays and lesbians' chance to share the same civil rights as their fellow citizens, California voters have a chance to reject, once and for all, a policy that deprives LGBT people of their full civil rights. As Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, writes:
The right to be equal citizens and to marry whomever we wish -- unimaginable to me when I first came out -- is now ours to lose in California unless we stand up for what's right. All of us must fight against what's wrong. In my 43 short years of life, I have seen gay and lesbian people go from pariahs and objects of legally-sanctioned discrimination to being on the cusp of full equality. The unimaginable comes true in our America if we make it happen. But, it requires effort and struggle.Also this November 4, CA voters can choose to stop putting harmless drug users in prison and treat farm animals more humanely, and they can vote against a proposed parental notification law that would put teens in danger of abuse and strip them of the ability to control of their own bodies. What follows is a guide to some of the key initiatives at stake. There are links at the bottom to more comprehensive guides on all the CA initiatives.
Proposition 8: Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry
On May 15, California's Supreme Court overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, granting LGBT people a fundamental right enjoyed by all other California couples: the right to marry whomever they choose.
Proposition 8 would not only void the court's historic decision but permanently cement discrimination against LGBT people into California's constitution.
Anti gay-marriage groups from around the country have mounted a massive campaign in support of the discriminatory measure, flooding California with ads and a never-ending supply of canvassers to push their regressive agenda. Their efforts have been effective: Prop. 8 is dangerously close to passing.
For more information about Proposition 8 and same-sex marriage, check out the following sources:
"Why Straight People Need to Get into the Fight for Marriage Equality"
"Why African Americans Should Oppose California's Proposition 8"
"The Mormon Church Is Leading the Fight Against Gay Marriage in California"
Proposition 4: Parental Notification About Abortion
Another decision facing California voters is whether teen girls will be subject to a potentially dangerous breach of their privacy when they choose to have an abortion. Under current law, a pregnant minor can get an abortion without telling her parents or legal guardians. Proposition 4 would force doctors to notify a teen's parent or guardian 48 hours in advance of the procedure.
The measure is both unnecessary and dangerous. Most teens who choose to have an abortion involve their parents in the decision. Often, the small percentage of young women who don't tell their parents have a very good reason not to: it has been shown that teens who keep their abortion a secret from the adults in their lives do so out of fear of abuse.
If Proposition 4 were to pass, abused teens seeking an abortion would have to convince a Juvenile Court that notifying a parent threatens their safety and wellbeing -- a needlessly onerous process for a teen already facing a difficult decision.
For more information about Proposition 4 and parental notification laws, check out the following sources:
ACLU of Northern California
"The Real Story Behind CA's Parental Notification Push"
Proposition 5: Drug Laws
America's prisons are crowded with non-violent drug offenders -- not criminals, but victims of the failed war on drugs.
Proposition 5 promises to bring some sanity to California's handling of non-violent drug crime. The measure would lessen the penalties for non-violent property crimes involving drugs and send perpetrators of minor drug offenses to rehab rather than prison. Proposition 5 also mandates access to rehab for drug offenders while they are in prison, and establishes rehabilitative services for prisoners on parole.
For more information on Proposition 5 and drug laws, check out the following sources:
Drug Policy Alliance Network
"CA's Prop 5: Treatment for Drug Addicts Works and Jail Time Doesn't -- Here Are the Stories to Prove It"
Proposition 9: The Treatment of Prisoners
Proposition 9 is billed as a 'victims' rights law, but in reality it would violate the fundamental rights of California's prisoners -- especially elderly prisoners who no longer pose a threat to society. The proposition would: deny prisoners access to regular parole hearings; bar the state from releasing prisoners due to overcrowding; deny released prisoners the right on an attorney if they break parole; allow victims to testify at parole hearings without questioning from the prisoners' attorneys, and limit a prisoner's access to rehabilitation programs.
For more information on Proposition 9, check out the following sources:
"Cruel California Ballot Initiative Seeks to Keep Elderly Prisoners Locked up Longer"
No on 9
Proposition 2: Humane Treatment of Farm Animals
Prop. 2 would go a long way towards ensuring the humane treatment of animals. The measure calls for banning the use of inhumane cages that prevent farm animals from stretching and moving around. California law already requires that caged animals have shelter, food, water and room to exercise. If Proposition 2 passes, the failure to humanely house farm animals would result in a $1,000 fine, jail time, or both.
For more information on Proposition 2, click here.
Yes on Prop 2
For a more extensive analysis of this year's California ballot, take a look at the following voter guides:
Courage Campaign Progressive Voter Guide
Pissed Off Voter Guide