Whalen, a Sparks resident opposed to California’s Proposition 8, which would eliminate same-sex marriages, said that this proposition is no different from the racial intolerance of over 50 years ago.
“We’ve just carried that over to gays and lesbians,” Whalen said. “I believe sincerely in my heart that gay and lesbian marriage is a civil right and it’s a matter of an equal rights law.”
Deciding to take action, Whalen, along with her congregation at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada, is participating in and hosting an organized phone bank, contacting California voters and encouraging them to vote against Proposition 8 on Tuesday.
The phone bank, put on by the Vote No on Prop. 8 group, is available to all interested volunteers. A calling system based off of an online database allows volunteers to either go the UUFN church located at 780 Del Monte Lane in Reno from 3 to 9 p.m. on Sunday or stay at home and use a key code for access to the online database, said UUFNN minister Neal Andersen.
“We are a welcoming congregation,” Andersen said, explaining that he has several same-sex couples who went over to California to get married. “We make a special effort to support gay and lesbian people who traditionally have not been readily accepted into many church communities.”
In May, California’s Proposition 22, which defined marriage as between a man and woman, was declared by California Supreme Court to be in violation of California’s Constitution and the equal rights protection clause, thereby legalizing same-sex marriages.
Being the third state, following Massachusetts and Connecticut, to allow for same-sex marriages, California is considered by many to set the tone for the rest of the nation, Andersen said.
“I think we find that because of it’s large, significant population, California sets a trend that can have an impact on the rest of the United States,” Andersen said, citing California’s Clean Cars program as an example of increasing fuel efficiency awareness. “So eventually we hope that all same-sex couples will have the opportunity for equality in marriage.”
Proposition 8 has received heated debate from both sides in California, with each camp raising about $27 million to promote its cause, according to a report from the University of Southern California. Most of the money raised is from private donations with an apparently more than usual amount from other states.
According to the California Voter Guide, those opposed to Proposition 8 cite equal rights protection for all citizens, detailing that same-sex couples should receive equal property rights, hospital visitation rights and insurance benefits as do heterosexual married couples.
Those in favor of Proposition 8 cite that it is not an attack on the gay lifestyle and will simply redefine the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman to protect what children are taught in public schools about marriage.
“As Unitarian Universalists, we are called to work toward equality of all people,” Andersen said. “This calls us to work for justice.”
There appears to be no Reno/Sparks organized effort for those in favor of Proposition 8 at the time this article went to print.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Institute of Religion director Michael Bolingbroke said on behalf of his church that he is in favor of the passage of Proposition 8 and encourages voters to vote yes.
“We encourage this and encourage voters to vote their conscience,” Bolingbroke said, explaining “We as a church want this to pass to protect the family.”
For more information about Proposition 8, visit the California Voter Guide at http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov.
To volunteer for the UUFNN phone bank, contact Jeff Carlton for information or an access code at firstname.lastname@example.org.