Civil Liberties

Ending Marriage Discrimination in California

Why Republicans should vote no on Prop 8


Republicans often say that courts should apply the law, not create it. It was really quite a stretch for the California Supreme Court to say that the Constitution of California already contains a right for same-sex marriage, when the Constitution doesn't say a word about it. The truth is: It's a new issue. To those who say the Court got it wrong, I say: I agree. It's for us to decide. Now, let's make the right decision. And that right decision, in my view, is to allow same-sex marriage in California.

Republicans believe deeply that government should be limited. Government has no business making distinctions between people based on their personal lives. That's why, as a Californian and a Republican who has held elective office at the federal and state levels, I will be voting No on Proposition 8.

Same-sex couples already exist, so do different-sex couples. Californians in these relationships are our firefighters, nurses, police officers, and small business owners. They pay taxes and contribute to our economy and our society. Californians come in different shapes and sizes; that's what's made our state great. If two people want to make their relationship more stable, and commit more deeply to each other, that can only be good for California. That's true whether the couple is gay or straight.

We've seen the walls fall down that once stood against women's rights; the same has been true for racial equality. When my mother was born, women still couldn't vote in many states. When I entered school, black and white couples couldn't get married in many states. It's easy to forget those things, but it wasn't all that long ago. Someday, we'll tell our children that, when two adults in our state who wanted to get married were told they couldn't, we had the chance to change that. I want to be able to tell the next generation that I was part of ending discrimination, not making it a permanent part of the law.

Republicans also care about jobs; and as a business proposition, it makes no sense to support Prop. 8. Discrimination at any level is bad for business. California has always made itself stronger by welcoming, not excluding, people who want to work hard and build better futures for themselves and their communities. What kind of a message does it send to workers, of any background, that we are willing to codify discrimination into our state constitution?

Gay couples are asking for a chance to play by the rules. We can give them that chance. For those of us who are proud of our party's and our state's reputation for fairness and against discrimination, our choice is very clear: No on Proposition 8.

Tom Campbell is a Republican and former five-term U.S. Congressman from Silicon Valley, State Senator, and Director of Finance for the State of California. He served in the Reagan Administration and clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court.