August 03, 2005
Busting up illegal unions?
The fight against same sex marriage is heating up, with opponents now trying to do away with domestic partnerships in the guise of "protecting marriage." Here's the text from a leading California ballot initiative which would amend the state's constitution:
SEC. 1.1. a) Only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in California, whether contracted in this state or elsewhere.Note the phrase "rights or incidents of marriage." That's what this is really about, as there is no legal same sex marriage in California, and it's doubtful there will be any time soon. Nonetheless, the initiative's advocates are in a legal tussle with California Attorney General Bill Lockyer over the official ballot summary -- which the advocates claim should stick to the protection of marriage issue and not highlight the elimination of domestic partnerships. Most likely, this is because experience shows that most voters will only read the summary, if anything at all, so they're hoping that "protection of marriage" will be the only words on voters' radar.
Here's the San Mateo Journal:
The attorney general summarizes measures before they are added to the ballot, but one of the amendment’s official sponsors said Lockyer was “inaccurate and prejudicial” and vowed to challenge it in court.(More here from the initiative's sponsors.)
Lockyer is accused of misleading voters by telling them too much about what the measure would eliminate:
While noting that the amendment would "provide that only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in California," it goes on to state that the measure "voids and restricts registered domestic partner rights and obligations" in areas ranging from inheritance and adoption to insurance benefits and hospital visitation."Sigh. Like it or not, an ill-informed electorate seems to be a way of life in California. What ought to matter is not what the summary says, but what the initiative says, and this legal debate seems to be centered around the anticipated intellectual laziness of the voters.
Anyway, this initiative is a perfect example of what's known as a backlash, and I think the gay activists (and Gavin Newsom) mostly brought it on themselves. Certainly, there's nothing fair about it; California has gotten along quite well with domestic partnerships. They're voluntary, and no one is obligated to enter into them. Making them illegal violates the individual right to enter into private contracts, and will open a can of worms I hope will come back to haunt those who are promoting this odious amendment.
Meanwhile, there's yet another competing ballot initiative which limits itself to a single sentence (to be added to the California Constitution):
Sec. 7.5. A marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.The second initiative is supported by a wide coalition (including Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, Pacific Justice Institute, and Concerned Women For America). It's probably more likely to pass, because it's easier for voters to understand.
Vagueness often masquerades as simplicity.
posted by Eric on 08.03.05 at 08:53 AM
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