Insofar as it might (in a hypothetical alternative legal universe) be relevant to look to the messages of Prop 8’s sponsors to discern voter intent, the arguments made by the Prop 8 sponsors in the official voter information guide that the state of California sent to all voters would surely deserve priority over other messages. Here’s the full text (emphases in original) of those arguments:
Proposition 8 is simple and straightforward. It contains the same 14 words that were previously approved in 2000 by over 61% of California voters: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
Because four activist judges in San Francisco wrongly overturned the people’s vote, we need to pass this measure as a constitutional amendment to RESTORE THE DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE as a man and a woman.
Proposition 8 is about preserving marriage; it’s not an attack on the gay lifestyle. Proposition 8 doesn’t take away any rights or benefits of gay or lesbian domestic partnerships. Under California law, “domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits” as married spouses. (Family Code § 297.5.) There are NO exceptions. Proposition 8 WILL NOT change this.
YES on Proposition 8 does three simple things:
It restores the definition of marriage to what the vast majority of California voters already approved and human history has understood marriage to be.
It overturns the outrageous decision of four activist Supreme Court judges who ignored the will of the people.
It protects our children from being taught in public schools that “same-sex marriage” is the same as traditional marriage.
Proposition 8 protects marriage as an essential institution of society. While death, divorce, or other circumstances may prevent the ideal, the best situation for a child is to be raised by a married mother and father.
The narrow decision of the California Supreme Court isn’t just about “live and let live.” State law may require teachers to instruct children as young as kindergarteners about marriage. (Education Code § 51890.) If the gay marriage ruling is not overturned, TEACHERS COULD BE REQUIRED to teach young children there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage.
We should not accept a court decision that may result in public schools teaching our kids that gay marriage is okay. That is an issue for parents to discuss with their children according to their own values and beliefs. It shouldn’t be forced on us against our will.
Some will try to tell you that Proposition 8 takes away legal rights of gay domestic partnerships. That is false. Proposition 8 DOES NOT take away any of those rights and does not interfere with gays living the lifestyle they choose.
However, while gays have the right to their private lives, they do not have the right to redefine marriage for everyone else.
CALIFORNIANS HAVE NEVER VOTED FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. If gay activists want to legalize gay marriage, they should put it on the ballot. Instead, they have gone behind the backs of voters and convinced four activist judges in San Francisco to redefine marriage for the rest of society. That is the wrong approach.
Voting YES on Proposition 8 RESTORES the definition of marriage that was approved by over 61% of voters. Voting YES overturns the decision of four activist judges. Voting YES protects our children.
Please vote YES on Proposition 8 to RESTORE the meaning of marriage.
These arguments should be taken to have their ordinary meaning. Set aside for now the question (an easy question, I believe) whether the objective meaning of these arguments appeals to constitutionally permissible or impermissible grounds for supporting traditional marriage. My limited point here is that a further inquiry into the subjective motivations of Prop 8’s sponsors has no bearing on that objective meaning.
For what it’s worth, I’ll add that it’s my understanding that the pro-Prop 8 campaign’s overall messages were very much along the lines of its arguments in the voter information guide.