Against gay marriage?

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Did you answer yes to this question? That’s your right. Matter of fact, I am not sure you are wrong. I’m not sure society is ready to accept the word “marriage” for same-sex couples, and, personally, I would prefer a system of legal civil unions, at least for now.

However, even if you are a religious fundamentalist, or otherwise dead set against gay marriage or anything like it, you still should still vote against the half-baked and moronic proposed state constitutional amendment on Michigan’s ballot in November, for a whole lot of reasons.

First of all, it wouldn’t just ban gay marriage — which is already illegal. It would make one helluva mess for lots of people, lead to full employment forever at taxpayer expense for legions of lawyers, and endanger little children.

That’s largely because it is sloppily and carelessly written. Proposal 2 would also, as I read it, ban civil unions, kill domestic partnership benefits for unmarried heterosexual couples, and might also threaten a wide variety of other contracts that have nothing to do with who has sex with whom.

Here’s what it says. Proposal 2 would amend Michigan’s Constitution to provide that “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”

Those last six words are the problem. What is a “similar union” and how far does “for any purpose” go? What is clear is that those behind the amendment are so opposed to the “gay lifestyle” that they want to make sure that gay people can’t enter into civil unions, or achieve anything else resembling a normal life.

The theory that that will end gay sex is clueless. Any time society makes responsible and sensible behavior impossible, it just makes neurotic and irresponsible behavior inevitable. Nobody “chooses” to be gay. Most experts now agree people are born that way.

Incidentally, I am a completely heterosexual middle-aged man. I didn’t make a decision to be that way any more than I decided to grow up to be short, with brown hair and without any shred of athletic ability.

I just am all those things. What if you believe God, whatever you mean by God, frowns on same-sex anything? Wouldn’t it be better, even so, to encourage committed monogamous gay relationships rather than rampant promiscuity?

But forget all that. Let’s get back to the problem with the wording of good ol’ Proposal 2. You can bet that the courts would interpret that forbidding recognition of any “similar union for any purpose” as giving employers the right and the duty to cut off marriage benefits to the life partners of unmarried workers.

That would mean hundreds or thousands of children would be deprived of health care and perhaps other benefits. What if two unmarried people enter into a contract under which each agrees to serve as the other’s legal guardian, should one of them lose their faculties? For all I know, that would be illegal too.

Frankly, such an amendment will mainly work to drive more badly needed money away from Michigan. The sort of employers who are spearheading the new “creative economy” aren’t going to set up shop in a state that openly embraces intolerance and outlaws domestic partner benefits.

Ironically, while it will hurt the state’s economy, there’s a good chance that it will have no effect whatsoever on gay marriage. Here’s why: First of all, any legal scholar whose eyes don’t rotate independently in his head knows that this statute is dead-on certain to be struck down by the United States Supreme Court, on the grounds that it is too vague to be enforced.

Matter of fact, this nutty proposal, if passed, could actually have the effect of not making gay marriage illegal, but of making it a constitutional right.

How’s that? Simple. Last year, to the horror of religious conservatives, the nation’s highest court ruled that states have no right to outlaw any private sexual acts between consenting adults. The logical implications are that gay people have the same rights as straight people to enter into any relationship.

Wouldn’t it be a hoot if the right wing passed this nutty law in November, and next summer the high court struck it down, adding, “Oh, by the way, gay marriage is legal and always has been a constitutional right, didn’t you know?”

Sound farfetched? Maybe not. The Roman Catholic Church spent a bundle here in 1972 to successfully oppose a ballot proposal that would have legalized abortion. Two months later, the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal nationwide, invalidating every state law ruling otherwise.

Which is the final reason to take a pass on this loser. Sweeping issues like same-sex marriage, assisted suicide and abortion are always going to be ultimately decided at the federal level. Whatever the Supreme Court ultimately rules, or the states enact as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, automatically overrules any state law or constitutional provision.

How society feels about this issue won’t be decided in Michigan. Besides, a constitution is supposed to be a sweeping, high-minded document. I am sure that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would have been dead set against racially mixed marriages. Their political genius shows in the fact that they didn’t make any attempt to outlaw them in the Constitution.

When we have amended our state and federal constitutions, it has always been to allow for greater rights and freedoms. Michigan has never before written discrimination into its Constitution. Starting now would be an extremely bad idea.


You can’t make this stuff up: Flint Mayor Don Williamson had a newspaper carrier arrested last week for refusing to reveal who subscribed to the Flint Journal at City Hall. His High Mightyness had issued an executive order forbidding city employees from reading newspapers. Eventually, the ACLU intervened, and, as of press time, Mussolini Minor had backed down a bit and said employees could take the paper, as long as they didn’t read a word of it on the job. Someone call Michael Moore and tell him he’s needed back home.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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