The Clear Facts about Proposition 8 and Schools

Timothy Kincaid

October 28th, 2008

Writing for Jurist (a publication of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law), Douglas NeJaime, the Sears Law Teaching Fellow at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, explains in clear and easily understood language exactly why the claims by Yes on 8 about schools having to teach about gay marriage are false.

First, school curriculum is an intensely local decision. Local school boards, elected by local residents, create, revise, and implement curriculum. While public schools must teach core subjects and ensure that students attain a certain level of competence, they enjoy a tremendous amount of discretion. Nowhere is that discretion more expansive than in the domain of health and sex education. In fact, schools in California may decide to provide no such instruction whatsoever. If schools do offer sex education, the California Education Code requires that schools teach “respect for marriage and committed relationships.” But even this statutory provision is silent as to what that instruction should (let alone must) include. Instead, local school districts may include what they like, based on parental feedback, teacher input, and the decisions of politically accountable local officials. Some school districts have for years included material on lesbians and gay men, while many others have omitted such material. That variation will not change (and has not changed) in light of the ability of same-sex couples to marry in California. Schools will continue to exercise their broad discretion and will not operate under any new mandates. Furthermore, parents in California enjoy the right to exempt their children from sex education. This right to opt out will continue to exist, meaning that children won’t receive sex education (gay-inclusive or not) to which their parents object.

He also explains why the claims based on Parker v. Hurley (the King and King ad) are untrue.

At the onset of this campaign I was willing to believe that the Yes on 8 Campaign was sincere and that their ads reflected their beliefs. However, as more and more evidence builds up it has become increasingly obvious that they have abandoned all efforts at honesty and now are flat-out lying.

Education is not the focus of the ads because the supporters are unclear about the law or because they truly believe that schools will undermine parental and community control. As Marcos Breton revealed in an article about Yes on 8’s strategist:

In August, Schubert was excited at the subversive idea of using gay people in his ads – gay people who he claims oppose same-sex marriage. But he decided that was too risky.

Instead, Schubert found his inspiration at a Southern California focus group meeting in early September when an African American man – and Barack Obama supporter – reacted angrily to the idea of gay marriage being taught to kids in public school.

Ever since, Schubert has hammered at that idea in slick commercials with ominous music. “The things that people in politics don’t always appreciate is the power of human emotion,” he said.


October 28th, 2008

Speaking of the Parker case in Mass, does everyone know they were LDS. Coincidence?

Timothy Kincaid

October 28th, 2008


I wasn’t aware that the Parkers are LDS. Can you please provide a link?


October 28th, 2008

It was the Wirthlins, the other family in Mass involved in the King and King controversy. My apologies for the mixup.

Timothy Kincaid

October 28th, 2008

OK… do you have a link for the Wirthlins?


October 28th, 2008

I believe some of the Wirthlins are involved in CA’s “Yes on 8” campaign.


October 28th, 2008

Found this one:

I find it ironic that the law firm that this particular Mr. Wirthlin works for, Latham & Watkins, extols its values on diversity and yet he works for them?

California – Vote “NO” on Prop. 8!
Arizona – Vote “NO” on Prop. 102! AGAIN!
Florida – Vote “NO” on Amendment 2!
Connecticut – Vote “NO” on Question 1!

Stefano A

October 28th, 2008

… The Wirthlins lost their legal battle – the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, letting the lower court ruling stand – but they are far from losing the war. They are part of the out-of-state effort by the Mormon Church, whose members have contributed millions of dollars to the Yes on 8 war chest, to pass Prop 8.

Chip White, a spokesman for Yes on 8, confirmed that the Wirthlins are members of the Mormon Church.

The Bay Area Reporter
Dan Aiello
Mass. couple
pushes Prop 8

Just as an aside from the same article:

BTW: The Bay Area Reporter quotes

…In what one reporter described as “The Battle of Lexington,” Meg Soens, a lesbian parent, and Pam Hoffman, who is straight, formed their own organization, Lexington Cares, to counter the anti-gay marriage organization Mass Resistance and the Massachusetts Family Institute that elicited sympathy and support for the Wirthlins with public vigils.

Mass Resistance is a “radical organization,” according to Hoffman, noting that it would list private correspondence between the school and the Wirthlins. The women charged that Mass Resistance was a loosely organized group with a web site set up by conservative actvist Brian Camenker.

“Robin did not necessarily agree with the tactics of Mass Resistance,” said Soens. “I told her if she didn’t agree with them then she should have them take down the transcripts and private e-mails sent to the Wirthlins.” Soens said the e-mails were removed from the site a few days later.

The emails were not removed:

Stefano A

October 28th, 2008

I haven’t watched this video from the Yes on 8 web site “Robb and Robin Wirthlin’s Story”

So I don’t know if they mention being Mormon in it or just rehash their gripe about the case they lost. Someone with more time and patience with Yes on 8 than I do might review the vid and let us know.

(On dial up, I don’t have the patience to wait on the vid.)

Stefano A

October 28th, 2008

Also, if you prefer a non-gay media source, NPR also refers to them as a “Mormon couple”

Timothy Kincaid

October 29th, 2008

Thanks Stefano

I knew our readers would have good sources

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