Friday, August 06, 2010

Prop 8 supporters:They're bad, therefore wrong?

I just love this Prop 8 discussion, because you get bad arguments from both sides.
According to this article in the New York Timesby law professor Andrew Koppelman, Judge Walker's "findings of fact" includes this (supposed) fact: The campaign for Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in California, relied on prejudice and vicious anti-gay stereotypes, such as the idea that gay people are dangerous to children.

My response to this point by Judge Walker is simply to wonder why it's relevant. Political campaigns are rarely run by Mother Theresa types; is the constitutional fate of every ballot initiative in this state (and elsewhere) going to depend on the morality of their proponents? As for hateful stereotypes, there was plenty of anti-Mormon prejudice by Prop 8 opponents—surely Judge Walker is aware of this fact. This conclusion seems to me to be an instance of the attacking the motive fallacy, see this website for a detailed discussion of the motive fallacy. (Conveniently, the site mentions an anti-Prop 8 ad as committing the fallacy).

Furthermore, I don't see that a majority of Californians were influenced by this alleged whipping up of anti-gay stereotypes. I don't recall a lot of people who voted for Prop 8 (I was not one of them, for what it's worth) basing their decision on gays' threats to children. The issue was not whether gays should be allowed to raise children. Does Judge Walker have such little opinion of the California voting population that he thinks they would be robotically swayed by an allegedly bigoted campaign?

More to come tomorrow on this subject, but I need a break.

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