30 October 2006

Legislating "Normal"

On November 7, Virginia will ask its voters to cast their ballot on the following question:

Shall Article I (the Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to state:

"That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage."?

This is the innocuously labeled "Marshall/Newman Amendment," more dangerously called the "Marriage Amendment." Why is its popular name dangerous? Because most of us are for marriage -- therefore, we don't mark the widespread implications of that second paragraph.

This legislation attempts to codify what "normal" is in American society, but we haven't seen that kind of "normal" since 1958. Families are not nuclear anymore -- in a single home, you can find half-siblings, step-siblings, and foster kids, sometimes with or without 2 parents of the opposite sex. Not to mention, the occasional relative or friend who is helping out a single mom or dad by moving into the house. There are also hard-luck adults who move in with various family members until "he gets on his feet." And elderly widows and widowers living with their children, grandchildren, or younger siblings.

Voting "yes" on this Ballot Question could destroy families in the name of saving marriage for heterosexual unions. How? Because it undermines a household's ability to support itself by taking away its right to claim dependents as dependent, dispose of its monies and personal property as necessary, and make agreements with other adults in the household for the care and feeding of all residents.

Before you vote, ask yourself this: What are the "effects of marriage"? What are the "rights, benefits, obligations, [and] qualities" of marriage?

Right #1: Your spouse is automatically listed as a member of household for all insurance purposes.

Under this amendment, foster children, step-children, and other extended family members who may be living with you in your house, either permanently or semi-permanently, will lose all insurance protection that they may have been able to naturally claim as members of your household.

This will effect presumed coverage in all auto, health, fire & disaster, life, personalty, house and rental policies.

Why? Because that right will no be longer extended to "other legal statuses" between unmarried persons. If you think that insurance companies' lawyers will not use this clause to deny coverage of claims, then you do not know insurance companies or lawyers.

Right #2: Your spouse is automatically a dependent or member of household for all tax purposes.

Under this amendment, your right to claim deductions for step-children, foster children, and elderly relatives in your full-time care as dependents on your taxes could be challenged.

Why? Because that right will no longer be extended to "other legal statuses" between unmarried persons. Do you think the IRS or VA Dep't of Taxation will let this slide?

Right #3: By right, your spouse has holds a property interest in all assets and personalty you acquire as a household.

Under this amendment, all property and business agreements and any disposition of assets that are made with someone who is not your spouse can be challenged in a court of law.

Why? A court could not enforce any such agreement or disposition because to do so would recognize a partnership that is not marriage and accord it a legal status on par with marriage. The proposed amendment makes it unconstitutional for a Virginia court to do.

If you are in business with your brother, you cannot make arrangements to give or leave your half of the business to your brother.

If you are elderly and have help in taking care of your needs and property, you can not make arrangments to leave that property or other compensation to your assistant.

You can not have a living will enforced on your behalf by anyone other than a spouse. If your spouse predeceases you, too bad.

Your right to put any land into a conservation easement can and will be challenged by the heirs of your body.

If you have a family business run by you, your mother, 2 of your kids, a cousin, and a nephew, you can not dispose of it according to each person's interest in the company because to do so would approximate the rights of marriage.

If you believe you have a right to own your property and manage your personal business without reference to or fear of a court system unable to enforce individual contracts you make. If you believe you have the right to protect and support all the children and elderly in your household and be compensated for that protection. If you believe that you have the right to die with dignity and leave your assets where you designate, then please VOTE NO to No. 1 on Nov. 7.

1 comment:

Bill Garnett said...

And, if you believe that a future generation of better educated, enlightened, and tolerant Virginians “. . . should have the same right as ours to enact policies of their own.

To use the Constitution as a forum for even our most favored views strikes a blow of uncommon harshness upon disfavored groups, in this case gay citizens who would never see this country's founding charter as their own.” (Judge James Harvie Wilkinson, III)

Then vote NO.