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Oops, That Ban On Gay Marriage Took Away Other Rights

May 7th, 2008 | by Daniel DiRito |

Don’t be fooled by the religious right’s assertion that they simply want to protect marriage and the family. Implicit in their efforts to pass legislation and constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage is an intention to slam the door on any measure that would grant rights or recognition to gays.

Should there be any doubt, take a look at today’s Michigan Supreme Court ruling. In a case designed to determine the scope of an amendment passed in the state in 2004, the court upheld an appeals court ruling that prohibits Michigan’s universities, colleges, and municipalities from providing health coverage to the partners of same-sex couples.

From The Associated Press:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Local governments and state universities in Michigan can’t offer health insurance to the partners of gay workers, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The court ruled 5-2 that Michigan’s 2004 ban against gay marriage also blocks domestic-partner policies affecting gay employees at the University of Michigan and other public-sector employers.

The decision affirms a February 2007 appeals court ruling.

Up to 20 public universities, community colleges, school districts and local governments in Michigan have benefit policies covering at least 375 gay couples. After the appeals court ruled, universities and local governments rewrote their policies to try to comply with the gay marriage ban — so the effect of Wednesday’s decision is unclear.

The voter-approved law, which passed 59 percent to 41 percent, says the union between a man and woman is the only agreement recognized as a marriage “or similar union for any purpose.”

The language utilized by proponents of amendments to limit marriage to one man and one woman has been left intentionally vague in order to allow the restrictions to be expanded following passage. Ironically, the same people who accuse Democrats and liberals of favoring “activist judges” seek to use the courts to further their agenda to remove any recognition of rights for gays subsequent to the passage of these amendments.

The lack of clarity leaves the door open to arguing that these amendments actually intend to limit more than just recognition of same-sex marriages. In fact, the goal of those sponsoring such amendments is to nullify all prior state or municipal legislation that remotely seeks to recognize or codify the rights of gays. Specifically, these amendments are often targeted to overrule recognitions passed by large urban municipalities that have typically had a greater concentration of liberals or Democrats.

Time and again, the proponents of these amendments attempt to first pass the broadest possible language and should that be struck down, they grudgingly expand the language…but only enough to pass judicial muster. The first such amendment to garner nationwide attention was passed in Colorado in 1992. Amendment 2 would have voided laws passed in cities like Denver and Boulder that were intended to grant protections to gays in housing and employment. Fortunately, the Colorado Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower courts ruling that found the amendment to violate the equal protections discussed in Colorado’s constitution.

Amendment 2 was a miscalculation on the part of its proponents. They predicated their efforts upon an assumption that the courts were by and large unsympathetic to measures passed by city councils and their removal was simply a matter of forcing those items to be reviewed by the higher courts. The strategy failed miserably. Since the Colorado amendment drew so much attention, sponsors of subsequent amendments have used that case as a guide in crafting the language of future amendments. No longer could they count on the inherent bias against the passage of rights for gays that had previously dominated the court system.

The new strategy focuses on protecting the institution of marriage in order to win the approval of more voters. Knowing that a majority of Americans likely object to gays being able to enter into traditional marriages, these measures are designed to capitalize on that sentiment while secretly being crafted to allow them to go much further.

The Michigan case is a classic example of this bait and switch strategy. Most observers do not believe that the state’s voters intended to revoke the provision of health care coverage for same-sex couples…or to restrict or rollback any other measures intended to protect gays from inequitable discrimination. Unfortunately, the supporters of the amendment wrote the measure with such objectives in mind and they regularly consult with legal scholars to determine the eventual outcomes that can be achieved with the chosen language.

Look, I realize that politics is a contact sport. Nonetheless, I am troubled when these individuals, who seek to be portrayed as bastions of Christian values, become the primary purveyors of disingenuous measures designed to promote their discriminatory ideologies. And yes, I realize they believe they are simply seeking to enforce the precepts of their faith…as they choose to interpret it from the Bible. Regardless, I don’t recall that the good book endorses deception and deceit as an acceptable means to expand dogma.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

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  1. 6 Responses to “Oops, That Ban On Gay Marriage Took Away Other Rights”

  2. By Cranky Liberal on May 8, 2008 | Reply

    Thanks for posting this Daniel, I missed that decision. It’s an amazing world we live in that still treats a large segment of it’s population like second class citizens. It just makes me sick some days.

  3. By Chris Radulich on May 8, 2008 | Reply

    Does anyone know how gay marriages threaten hetrosexual marriages?

  4. By Rainbow Demon on May 8, 2008 | Reply

    Since you asked, Chris… by calling my family a “family” and by calling my relationship a “marriage” threatens these people because they “own” those words. Much like they “own” the “creation of the world” and the “evolution” of man as a species.

    They also say that “God is Love”, so “Love” is a word that cannot be tolerated for people like me to have in our vocabulary.

    The new “doma” law (S.B. 1250) the legislators are trying to push through here in Pennsylvania has hit a little bump today. It has only been stalled.

    We’re fighting with all we’ve got.
    Thanks for posting, Daniel.

    Peace,
    =RD=

  5. By Chris Radulich on May 8, 2008 | Reply

    I realize that religions are a fear based organization and need an external enemy. But usually they try to cloak their prejudices in some form of psuedo logic. So far I have not seen this in this issue. They just say it is bad.

  6. By Ginny in CO on May 9, 2008 | Reply

    I’m doing this from memory.
    “Generally there are good people who do good things and bad people who do evil things. It takes religion for good people to do evil things.” Steven Weinberg

    Not having been raised in a trinitarian church and given up on a sentient diety in 93, I can only speculate from outside the Christian mindset. Mostly the whole idea of human sexuality being a good thing in a committed relationship, for reasons other than procreation, is equivalent to the sin of lust.

    Some national group has inspired a 20 year old here (she dreamed this) to get a ballot initiative for establishing that life begins at conception. I’m not sure this is possible since citizenship laws are determined by the federal gov. and is totally dependent on a birth certificate.

    Despite the atheism, I am very fond of the essence of Christ’s teaching (as presented in The Jefferson Bible). I simply seethe when I think about what it takes to tell people NOT to love each other, in a world full of hate.

    Since most of that hate is based in religious dogma, I do my best to reach out to those who are getting their pursuit of happiness trampled on, as openly as is appropriate. And fight for the laws which restore that right.

    In speaking to a muncipal hearing years ago in support of the city extending benefits to gay couples, I responded to those who had claimed that homosexual acts are revolting by questioning if they had ever actually witnessed any. If not it was their own immaginations that were revolting and should be turned off.

    Ultimately it is just like the scientists who devote their lives and intelligence to developing new ways to kill people, efficiently.

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

    A wasted mind becomes a terrible thing.

    I hold to the conviction that we are coming closer to dropping the yoke and blinders of religion.

    In hope and love.

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