Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New Jersey grants gay civil unions

New Jersey becomes the third state to allow either civil unions or marriage.

Meanwhile, a Michigan court ruled earlier this month that the state's recent gay-marriage ban also outlaws domestic-partner benefits to government employees, including those who work for public universities. The logic: health benefits cannot be provided if doing so is based on treating same-sex relationships similar to marriage.

And so while New Jersey expands freedom and fairness, Michigan trips into the minefield of litigation and unintended consequences caused by a hastily passed, too-broadly drawn constitutional amendment that singles out a minority for discrimination. Another 20 states with similar bans probably will face similar troubles -- unless they take the route Alaska took and decide the law doesn't apply to such benefits.

Of course, some people are happy that this will hurt gay families. Take Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association's Michigan chapter:

“For the average Michigan taxpayer whose family does not receive government-paid insurance of any kind, this was a victory because Michigan taxpayers will no longer be forced to subsidize homosexual relationships among government workers as if those relationships are equal or similar to marriage,” he says.

That logic is so disingenuous, not to mention mean-spirited, I don't even know where to begin.

The AFA, by the way, also warns against witchcraft, specifically attacking a middle school newspaper for publishing an 8th-grade girl's article on her Wiccan aunt and Wiccan beliefs. This is a little ironic, considering they have a "religious freedom" section of their Web site where they purport to stand up for religious expression.

Such routine hypocrisy aside, it'll be interesting to see if there is a second wave of constitutional amendments amending the gay-marriage bans. I wouldn't expect outright repeals, but at the very least we might see language exempting domestic partner benefits or allowing civil unions. And the lessons of these first states -- moral as well as legal -- will likely slow the rush to adopt similar measures in the remaining states.

I stand by my prediction that in 20 years, the country will largely look back on this brouhaha and ask "what was the big deal"? Gay marriage laws will go the way of sodomy laws, falling state by state until the Supreme Court repeals the last few holdouts. Because manifest unfairness rarely survives for long, even when it involves something as visceral as homosexuality.

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Blogger Not Your Mama said...

I agree with your prediction but I'd add to it.

States that persist in this type of socially regressive behavior will find themselves at the bottom of the economic and cultural ladder as they continue to experience a slow bleed of residents with education and economic wherewithal to move on to greener pastures.

2/21/2007 7:54 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

NYM: Agreed. We already see that in some respects -- the states with the most draconian (enforced) laws regarding private conduct are, coincidence or not, also among the least prosperous.

2/21/2007 8:16 AM  

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