Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Arizona voters, pay attention

Actually, any voters with a "marriage plus" amendment coming up should take a close look at what's happening in my former home state of Michigan, which passed a marriage amendment to its constitution a year ago. Similar to the initiative wording currently circulating on petitions in Arizona, Michigan's amendment goes beyond merely defining marriage as between one man and one woman:

To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.

The Arizona marriage initiative reads as follows:

To preserve and protect marriage in this state, only a union between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage by this state or its political subdivisions and no legal status for unmarried persons shall be created or recognized by this state or its political subdivisions that is similar to that of marriage.

It's that second part, that part that says the state or "political subdivisions" (cities, towns, counties) cannot "recognize" any status "similar to that of marriage."

In Michigan, the battle is now in court to see whether or not that bars the government from offering domestic partnership benefits.

Opponents of domestic partner benefits argue that the phrase "or similar union for any purpose" bans such benefits.

"Of course the amendment is clear in that it prevents any type of benefits program from extending into a homosexual relationship," said Patrick Gillen, co-author of the marriage amendment and litigation counsel for the conservative Thomas Moore Law Center in Ann Arbor, which is suing to eliminate the benefits. "It's a labeling game, but a same-sex union under any other name is still a same-sex union and the constitutional amendment provides that same-sex unions will not be recognized for any purpose. Period."

This is What's. Happening. Now. Despite promises from Len Munsil, president of the organization backing Arizona's marriage initiative, it's what Will. Happen. Here. if it passes.

Voters need to be very clear about what they're voting for. If you think marriage should be between one man and one woman but don't want to take away domestic partnership benefits, then you MUST VOTE NO. Otherwise, you'll end up like the voters in Michigan, feeling tricked.

Voters themselves seem confused about the debate over health care benefits. At least a dozen contacted by The Detroit News said they would not have supported the marriage amendment if they had known it would put domestic partner health care benefits at risk.

"I voted that way because I believe marriage is a sacrament," said Patricia Klein, 75, a retired former supervisor at Verizon Wireless who lives in Belleville. "But I definitely support them having a civil ceremony and having domestic partner benefits. I don't remember (the proposal) saying anything about health benefits."

John Boyar of Eastpointe said his "yes" vote simply reaffirmed his belief in one man-one woman marriage. "It was about marriage, that's all I know," said Boyar, a retired TV repairman.

Don't let the "marriage protection" supporters claim all this amendment will do is "protect marriage." It will do a lot more. We need to be aware of what's happening in other states and educate ourselves before going to the polls next November.


At 7:28 PM, Blogger Marty said...

You've got a great blog. Linked here from Bad Catholic. I'm a former bad Baptist who became a bad Methodist a couple of years ago. I voted against the marriage amendment here in Texas on Nov 8. It didn't do any good. It passed with flying colors.

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

I know, how heartbreaking. I really think people don't understand all the consequences of these amendments. I hope we do a good job educating Arizona voters in the next year because if we do, I think they'll vote against it.

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.


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