Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Vote Counts Too

I'm sure someone will take issue with this post. Everyone is entitled to their views - including me. So once more, I will break my own rules about blogging politics and religion and tell you what I'm thinking.

Florida's got a consitutional amendment on the November ballot (Proposition 2) that, if passed, would ban gay marriage in the state of Florida. It has caused all kinds of controversy here, some of it valid, some of it just plain nitpicky. Quite a few people have pointed out in our editorial pages that Florida's consitution already defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. That is true. What makes THIS amendment different is that it takes away the judicial branch's ability to overturn the amendment that defines marriage as one man and one woman.

I believe this is wrong on a couple of levels. If you're not familiar with this issue, you can go to the website below (click on Florida Marriage Amendment) and read a more in-depth synopsis of what is going on, arguments for and arguments against.

This is the summary from that website:

The Florida Marriage Amendment, also known as Proposition 2 and The Marriage Protection Amendment, is a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Florida. The proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution will appear on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Florida. In order to pass, the amendment will require a 60% majority of those voting in the election. As of September 8th, 2008, a slight majority of Floridians support the ballot measure (55%), but not 60%; 41% oppose the measure.[1]

The amendment as written includes a clause prohibiting judges from overturning the law. This is a response to what happened in Massachusetts, where a judge overturned that state's law banning same-sex marriage.[2]

The ballot title for the initiative says, "In as much as a marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."

The first thing that bothers me is that the judiciary is being forbidden to overturn a part of the consitution. They can't overturn something on a whim, people. They have to hear arguments, consult references and past rulings and come to an agreement that something is unconstitutional. That's how the judicial process works. Actually WRITING IT INTO THE PROPOSITION is just plain wrong. It's like saying George W. Bush gets to be king for life and no one can do anything about it. Like it or not, our government is set up with a system of checks and balances - and the system works. Voting for this amendment is a vote of no-confidence in our government. Before the stampede starts, let me say that I'm aware that a new vote on the consitutional amendment can be taken to have it removed. But unless the voting public is really savvy and their vote isn't cast on passion and misinformation, how likely is that to happen?

The second reason this bothers me is much more personal. I am not gay, but there are people that I love who are. Loving, generous, kind people. People who are just like you and me - with the exception of this one thing. That does not make them dangerous or untrustworthy. It doesn't mean that they are pedophiles or thieves or perverts. Heck, look around at the heterosexual population and you'll find plenty of those!

It doesn't take away the desire to settle down with one other person and create a family - often taking in children that no one else wants to adopt for whatever reason. Those children deserve a home just as much as the cute, smiling little babies that get snatched up so much faster. And who is the State of Florida to tell these children that their families are wrong or immoral because both parents are of the same gender?

And it doesn't take away from your marriage either. The only people who can take something away from your marriage are the two people directly involved in it.

More importantly, allowing for gay marriage is important for legal reasons. Without the "marriage" designation, many gays don't have access to family health insurance, or survivorship benefits, or even a say in the health treatment their partner might receive in the hospital. They can't sign papers agreeing to surgery or to turn off the machines if something goes horribly awry. In some cases, they may not even be allowed to visit their life partners if a "family-only" policy is being invoked. And more often than not (sadly), the partner may be the only family there is, the "natural" family having turned its back when a member comes out of the closet.

One would hope that we live in more enlightened times. That the world can recognize homosexuality as a natural part of the world - after all, where did all these gay people come from anyway? Why... heterosexual couples! Who raised their children in "normal" environments! It isn't nurture; it's nature.

I have a brother who is gay. He's an absolutely lovely person. But he stayed in the closet for years after figuring it out because he was afraid of the family's reaction. He didn't need to be, but he'd been struggling with this for a long time and he wasn't sure. When asked by my dad if he was sure, he said yes, adding, "Why would I choose to be a pariah?"

Because until recently, that was what he was facing. Social ostricism. When he came out to me, I told him that I wanted for him what I want for all my brothers. That he find his one special person. That he settle down in a happy home. That he and his partner raise children if that is what they want to do, because he loves children and would be a fantastic parent. But if he lived in Florida, that would be impossible to do legally.

And that is why, come November, I will be voting NO on Florida's Proposition 2. I hope you will consider your vote carefully and vote your heart and your conscience in November as well.


Jan said...

Sayre, we're facing the same thing in California. I agree with you 100%. I have no family members who are gay, but I have friends who are. To me, it's a case of "whatever", meaning each person should be judged on who they are, and nothing else. Some of my lesbian friends, think of themselves as selfish, for not having or adopting children; to me it's a case of "whatever works for you".

Ari_1965 said...

Spot on, Sayre.

Floridacracker said...

I vote No on all referendum constitutional amendments as a matter of principal. It's a stupid way to change a constitution ... that's what we elect legislators for.
FL's const. is in danger of being watered down to uselessness with so many ref. amendment attempts.

karisma said...

You are amazing! I vote with you! Bravo, well said!

S William said...

This is such a hot button issue. The right will say that it's more about health insurance coverage, and the left will say it's about love.

And the rest of us non-koolaid drinkers know its complex, and not simply one dimensional.

Generally I am for state's deciding on issues like this, but in this case I think it needs to be handled at the federal level. If a state decided Joe and Moe are married, another state will be pressured to accept this ruling. We can't have one state bullying another.

So either you're only married in one state, or we decide as a country.

I wouldn't worry so much about this Sayre. Gay marriages will happen. We are a bit slower than Europe on some issues, and a bit more Christian.

But when we DO expand the realm of marriage, let us make sure to hold everyone up to the same standards and policies. No special favors.

Hootin' Anni said...

....all in all, I'm for marriages, no matter if the two are of the same sex or not! It's THEIR lives...

BeeDancer said...

Thank you for saying this Sayre...i agree with you totally

It has always saddened me that with all the abandoned and abused children in this state we refused to allow gay citizens to adopt...It's a woeful state of affairs

Anonymous said...

Agree with all above. I am all in favor of the 10th Amendment, but so many forget that its purpose is to stop the federal government from impeding the rights of individuals... not to facilitate states doing it!
One way to combat this idiocy is a federal recognition of legal unions (not a constitutional amendment... misuse of the system to right a wrong is still misuse of the system, and it will eventually be overturned). Then, states can harrumph all they want. All a gay couple would have to do is travel to a state that DOES allow homosexual weddings and spend their honeymoon dollars there. Once they return home, their home state has to recognize the union.


Anna said...

My philosophy on this is the same as my philosophy on everything.

People should be allowed to do whatever they want, as long as they aren't hurting anyone else.

If two men, or two women, want to get married, then who are they really hurting? If the idea bothers some people, then it's their problem. Who has the right to say that one partnership between consenting adults is acceptable, and another isn't?

Live and let live, and all that.

alwaysbuddy said...

I will totally agree with you that it is Nature not Nurture. From personal experience, I know I didn't decide to be gay while eating my morning cornflakes at the age of 7.
As far as Marriage. I don't think I would really understand the institution if I were heterosexual let alone gay.
But I do think it is not fair to deny two adult human beings rights that others get. So, LET 'EM MARRY! Then let them divorce. fair is fair after all.

Rhea said...

I think you make a great argument. No matter what people think about same sex marriage, the way that amendment states things is not how I want my government run.

Now, I'm in Texas, and I didn't know anything about this, but I found it very interesting to read! I discovered your post through Good Mom/Bad Mom's link.

the sits girls said...

We think you stated things very well! Very clear and concise. Good luck with the election!

Momma Trish said...

Wish I lived there so I could vote "No" on this one right along with you. I agree with everything you wrote. Very well said!

Kylie w Warszawie said...

I wish I could vote no too. I'm a resident of TX, but I live in Poland.

Very well written!