Monday, March 22, 2004

The amendment is the wrong approach

While the Scalia-esc slippery slope, parade of horribles argument is valid in a few specific cases, the answer is not an amendment restricting marriage to one-man-one-woman but rather an examination of the hodge-podge of laws that single out marriage for special benefits and responsibilities. There is merit to protecting and favoring the family as a stabilizing force in society, but there is little connection between some of these laws and this laudable goal. Further, some of the incidents of marriage that the proposed amendment would deny same-sex couples should rightly be applied to these couples. For example, lesbians adopt and have children, but currently cannot do so as a legal couple in some (all?) states. If one partner dies, the other partner does not immediately get custody. As a result, a child is removed from the home of his only parent after suffering the tragedy of losing a parent. This child becomes the ward of the state (or is placed with relatives the child may or may not know). And what about the couple that separates? The single parent, simply because she is a lesbian, does not have the protections of alimony and child support laws. Is this really what we want a constitutional amendment to achieve?
While I respect that one's religion may never recognize same-sex couples as married (in the eyes of God), the law is a different matter. IMO the legislature should get out of the marriage business where it can and extend the law where it makes sense – starting with the protection of the children of same sex couples and the protection of those who rely on the contract of a declared joint household.


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