The One With The HELL NO!
What I'm Feeling At The Moment: aggravated
What I'm Listening To At The Moment: "...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears
Proposition 2 on the statewide ballot next month would prevent state judges from overturning current law banning gay marriage. Given that state judges in Texas are elected, and therefore answerable to the people, the chances of a judge doing so are about as good as the Texas Supreme Court outlawing barbecue, so this proposed amendment essentially uses a sledgehammer to kill a mosquito.
Still, if that were all Proposition 2 did, it might be easier to support.
But Proposition 2 goes beyond protecting the definition of marriage. The real impact of Proposition 2 will be to throw into question the legality of other sorts of contracts affecting gay Texans, many of them widely supported by society as a whole.
It is for this reason that I recommend a "no" vote on Proposition 2.
The first part of the proposed constitutional amendment says that marriage "consists only of the union of one man and one woman." Fair enough. That's already state law and has been since the state Legislature adopted the Defense of Marriage Act in 2003.
The second part of the proposed amendment prohibits "any legal status identical or similar to marriage." This would seem to undermine the ability of gay couples to enter into any partnership whose benefits stem from a recognized relationship. This is a problem.
A big problem.
Dallas and Travis counties provide certain health benefits to the partners and families of gay workers. So do hundreds of jurisdictions elsewhere in Texas and across the country. An amendment outlawing "any legal status ... similar to marriage" seems to subject these benefit plans to legal challenge. For what gain?
Proponents of this amendment argue that it won't affect private contracts between gays, and they cite language that was part of the resolution referring this issue to the ballot as proof that the intent behind the amendment isn't to undermine private contracts. But that language doesn't appear on the ballot. (The sorts of contracts we're referring to include arrangements to assure gays visitation rights when a partner is hospitalized, the ability to make the same sort of health care decisions for incapacitated partners as married partners, etc.)
In fact, the state House expressly rejected an effort to clarify the amendment's effect on private contracts when it voted 96-44 earlier this year against including on the ballot a provision stating that the amendment "may not be construed to prohibit the recognition of any contractual relationship currently available."
We doubt most Texans want to make it more difficult for gays to visit loved ones in the hospital or the like. These and other private contracts are already largely accepted by society – and even considered good for business. Thirty-eight of the Fortune 50 companies offer benefits to same-sex couples. Four of North Texas' largest private employers added domestic partner benefits last year.
Proponents say Proposition 2 is about protecting marriage and promoting family values. That may be, at least in their minds, but the unavoidable fact is that this amendment would make it significantly more difficult for gays to protect the health and well-being of their loved ones.
Why on earth deny to these men and women, not special privileges, but ordinary human decencies?
I recommend a "no" vote.
THE BALLOT LANGUAGE
"The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage ."