Over at marriage debate, discussing the various anti-SSM-and-civil-union amendments around the country, Joshua Baker writes:
I don’t know where Josh lives (or what he smokes), but here in Oregon the supporters of the anti-SSM ballot measure aren’t talking “about marriage (and little else).” Just looking through the arguments in favor of Measure 36 in Oregon’s voter pamphlet, I see folks talking about the following non-marriage items:
- The horrors of children being raised by same-sex couples: “If we ‘normalize’ homosexual marriage, the state will be forced
to place foster children in same-sex households.”
- Warnings not to disobey God:“The question is, should the State of Oregon put its stamp of approval on what God has clearly said is wrong?”
- The collapse of society, public schools, etc: “Providing equivalent legal standing to unnatural relationships will force devastating and irreversible changes to our society. The rights of conscience, and the accompanying freedom to make moral distinctions will be severely curtailed. Public schools and curriculum will be required to teach that homosexual ‘marriage’ is the moral equivalent to traditional marriage. Religious freedom, healthcare, and Social Security will all be negatively impacted.”
- Lies about social science research: “All research is conclusive. Children do better with a mother and a father.”
- Legislative difficulties: “If Oregonians don’t pass Ballot Measure 36 the legislature will be confronted with changing at least 350 statutes. Laws ranging from insurance, divorce, child custody, and taxes would need to be changed.”
- Schools again: “That is why Measure 36 is essential for education, because more important to education than stable funding is a stable and healthy family! Please vote YES on 36! It is the most important investment you can make to a child’s education.”
- And again…: “Teachers will be forced to teach sex education to middle school children based on the new interpretation of marriage in Oregon.”
And that’s far from a comprehensive list. Joshua clearly hasn’t been reading many proponents of anti-SSM amendments if he thinks they’ve even come close to discussing “marriage (and little else)”.
Joshua goes on to suggest that pro-SSM arguments about private employer’s health insurance, hospital visitation, and parental rights are nonsense:
But it’s Joshua who is oversimplifying matters. Even on his strongest point – what would happen to private business partnership coverage – it’s not clear that the broader anti-SSM amendments would have no effect. Some cities have laws requiring all businesses contracting with the city to offer domestic partnership benefits if they offer marriage partner benefits. Will such laws still be legal if the amendments pass? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know, and I suspect Joshua doesn’t either.
(There’s also the matter of insurance coverage, pension inheritance and other benefits for same-sex partners of public employees, which could easily be outlawed under reasonable interpretations of some of the amendments.)
Joshua’s apparent belief that hospitals never reserve visitation rights – and, just as importantly, decision-making authority – to closest kin is shockingly ignorant. When a heterosexual is in such a situation, she or he is assured that the decision-maker will be their spouse; for homosexuals, a third cousin who you haven’t seen in person for 12 years ranks above a life partner, in a hospital’s eyes. From the Oregon Voter’s Pamphlet:
With that move, according to my doctor, I may have become the first person in Oregon to sign a consent form for a same-sex spouse. David is now well on his way to a full recovery because I was able to authorize treatment so quickly.
Inheritance rights are another major factor to consider. As this writer points out, that she couldn’t legally marry her partner of 31 years made it much harder for to afford taking care of the children when her partner died – our laws are designed to make it easier for spouses in that situation, but those who cannot marry are screwed.
Nor are legal contracts any replacement for marriage. Even if they worked, they’d still amount to taxing same-sex couples thousands of dollars in legal fees for the protections married couples take for granted.
But often, they don’t work. Armed Liberal tells the story of a gay man whose non-approving parents were suing for control of his medical treatment and finances. In the end, the man had to legally “marry” a female acquaintance to bring his parents’ lawsuits to an end (and then, after he died, she stole his remaining estate from his longtime partner). Legal contracts, no matter how carefully crafted, aren’t worth nearly as much protection as marriage – even if the marriage is to someone you barely know.
Attorneys say such legal documents, which can be challenged in court, provide only the bare bones of the security that comes with marriage.
“Lawyers can only fashion remedies in haphazard ways,” said Dean Trantalis, a Fort Lauderdale city commissioner and gay rights activist who draws up such documents as part of his law practice. “The law uses marriage as a guideline to provide rights and impose responsibilities. There is an undue burden on same-sex couples.” …
When immigration or children are involved, matters are even more complicated. About 100,000 same-sex, bi-national couples are living in the United States and at least 1 million children being raised in gay households, according to the Human Rights Campaign and the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force.
Allan Barsky teaches social work at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and has been with his partner, Greg Moore, for six years. They are raising a 10-month-old daughter, Adelle, but worry about Barsky’s ability to remain in the United States because he is a Canadian citizen.
Florida’s ban on gay adoption means that only one of Adelle’s dads is legally viewed as her father. Legal agreements between Barsky and Moore spell out who will be Adelle’s guardian if one of them died, but are susceptible to a court challenge. …
Nonbiological parents have no assurance they’ll see a child they helped raise. Nothing requires child support or alimony even if someone gives up a career for the relationship or to raise a child. …
Unlike a husband and wife, a partner in a gay relationship can lose a jointly owned home if the other person needs nursing home care through Medicaid. Businesses don’t have to give gay employees time off to care for sick partners; the federal medical leave law applies only to legal spouses and family members. …
Joshua is doubtless correct that some claims about hospitals, insurance and parenting rights by opponents of anti-SSM amendments are technically incorrect in some way. (Just as many of the claims made by proponents of the amendments are often flat-out wrong, not to mention ridiculous). But even when technically mistaken in their particulars, the thrust of pro-SSM arguments are correct: There are essential legal and financial protections for families and children that marriage, and marriage alone, can secure. And those protections are denied to same-sex couples and their children.
If Joshua wants to discuss “the real issues at stake,” that’s one issue (one of several) which he should be ready to seriously discuss. And nit-picking at particular examples to imply that the overall problem isn’t real, does not qualify as serious discussion.