Same-Sex Marriage: Prop 8 Debate: Three Couples

What Makes a Marriage?
Bob and David have been together for 21 years and have two adopted daughters. They legalized their union in the state of California a few weeks before Prop 8 passed.

"We're just the couple down the block with two kids," Bob says. "We take the kids to school every day, we pay our taxes, take the kids to the park. There's nothing out of the ordinary."

"Marriage denotes permanence, and I think that's why marriage is so important," David says. "When the ban on same-sex marriage was lifted, we were jubilant. We were going to get what everybody else in this country gets."

"As we were planning our wedding, there was this clock ticking," Bob says.

"We knew that Proposition 8 had a very big chance of passing," David says.

"After Proposition 8 passed on Election Day, I just felt betrayed," Bob says. "I felt angry. This is an absolute violation of our civil rights. We want the legal protections of what marriage offers. We want the best for our children. We just want to be equal."

[AD]"Our marriage is definitely in limbo right now. We don't know if the government is going to go into the courthouse and take our marriage license and shred it. Now we don't feel the same as everyone else. We feel like second-class citizens," David says.

"We deserve equal treatment under the law," Bob says.

"If it's us now, then who's it going to be next?" David asks.

"It's our marriage today. Is it our kids tomorrow?" Bob asks.

Jennifer and Dan have been married 14 years and have two children.


"Marriage: It is an institution that is one man and one woman," Jennifer says.


"To me, it is an issue of what God has oriented from the beginning," Dan says.

"Biblically speaking, the homosexual lifestyle is sinful," Jennifer says. "The reason those couples in the gay community want the word marriage, it's a validation of their lifestyle. They're wanting to redefine the family code. It's one step further away from traditional values. In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages are legal, they're bringing in literature. As young as second grade, [they have] stories of two kings marrying."

"When the gay marriages were legal in California, up in San Francisco, a first grade class went to a gay wedding of their teacher," Dan says. "All the hype about this has really created confusion [not only] with my child, but with other children."

"During the election time, my 8-year-old son came to me and said, ‘If Prop 8 doesn't pass, do I have to marry a boy?'" Jennifer explains. "I do not believe the gay community has lost their civil rights. What they did lose is just the word marriage."


Back onstage, Dr. Phil turns to Bob and David. "Are you concerned that with the passage of this proposition in California, that your marriage will now be rescinded or invalidated?" he asks.

"We don't know," David says. "We're in limbo. We haven't heard anything yet, so we're waiting. And I have to say, 18,000 couples married in California since May, and if they're allowed to keep their marriages, if we're allowed to keep our marriage, it's a little bit of a hollow victory to be the only ones in California to win that right."

"Jennifer, tell me how you think these two California residents being recognized as married by the state of California erodes the institution of your marriage," Dr. Phil says.

"It's more a matter of the sanctity of marriage itself, being between a man and a woman," Jennifer says. "For me, if it takes away from a church's rights to speak as they do, or for the schools, what's going to be taught in the schools? It will change because it has changed, and that's my biggest concern."

David tells Jennifer, "I just want to say, when we get into religion, we cannot tell you your religion isn't real and valid. It is. You have your beliefs. We have our beliefs. We were married by a Rabbi. We had the Jewish prayer shawl around us with our families. My parents are holocaust survivors. They know persecution, so they are so embracing of our life because we have what you have. Look at our videos. They look the same. You read to your kids. We gave our kids baths, we made dinner, so what we have is what you have."

Is there a way to bridge the gap? Dr. Phil addresses his concern over some of the demonstrations that have targeted supporters of both campaigns by the other side. "Gloria, is there a way to dial down the rhetoric and up the unity?"

"I think the way is to focus on what our courts are saying and what our constitutional rights are," Gloria says. "Dr. Phil, the California Supreme Court, they are the ultimate guardians of our constitutional rights, and they are the ones who protect our rights, even against, I have to say, the whim of the majority at any particular point in time. And the California Supreme Court, in our case, decided that it is a violation of our equal protection clause of our California Constitution to make distinctions between same-gender couples and opposite-gender couples, that that would be a mark of second-class citizenship for same-gender couples, that would be a violation of their rights, and they are not going to allow the continued discrimination against same-gender couples. They are going to say " and they have said in the past " no religious person is going to be required to perform a marriage, Dr. Phil. This does not involve what a religious person can say. It only involves a marriage license, which the government can give, and no one is going to be denied a marriage license because we are protected under our California Constitution."

"That didn't sound very conciliatory," Dr. Phil jokes. "Jim, is there a way to find common ground here?"

[AD]"We can't philosophically, but one way I would hope we would agree is the acts of violence need to stop, and the name-calling. I don't want name-calling. Let's speak more respectfully. That's a starting point," Jim says. "The truth of the matter is, this is the most vetted amendment in the history of the United States, with the amount of money " the same percentage voted for Prop 8 as elected this man to mayor originally in his city," he says noting Gavin. "More people voted on Prop 8, yes and no, than the combined total in California who voted for Obama and McCain " together."

All Dr. Phil guests begin talking over one another. At the end of the show, Dr. Phil says, "We've only scratched the surface here."