Monday, November 28, 2011

Amendment One, Part Two

In this post, I look at the title of the amendment - the "Defense of Marriage Act" - and ask just what exactly I'm supposed to be afraid of.

In Part One, I discussed the fact that the language that will appear on the ballot is not the same language that was passed by the legislature and the problems that may cause.  Click here for the link to that post and this link goes into more depth about the problems with the current language.

Here, I'm going to look at the language that will be on the ballot next May.  It's deceptively simple.  "Marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."  With this single sentence, North Carolina seeks to not only outlaw gay marriage (which is already prohibited by law in this state), but also invalidate the concept of domestic unions and civil partnerships - domestic unions that permit unmarried couples (gay or straight) to receive the benefits of married couples without using the word "marriage."  There is evidence that there is support in North Carolina for these sorts of domestic arrangements - but it all hinges on just how the question is asked.

This is where things begin to boil down to the basic.  In my case, no one blinked when I politely requested that I be allowed to stay overnight in my husband's hospital room - I've got the ring and the last name.  For many gay couples, that's not a given, despite changes in the law.  See here for the law (which affects all hospitals receiving Medicaid and Medicare funds, so it covers pretty much everybody) and here for Wisconsin's approach.  Keep this in mind when you hear the argument, "Oh, it won't affect that.  A patient can see anyone they want to."  If you're in a committed relationship, there are certain things you are expected to do - visit your sick spouse in the hospital.  Pick your kids up from soccer practice.  File a joint tax return.  Maintain life insurance to benefit the other in case of some terrible accident.  Empty the dishwasher when it's clean.  Only the last one isn't up for debate under this bone-headed law.

Also -"Defense of Marriage Act"?  What's with the name?  I most certainly don't need the National Guard called out to defend my marriage.  That's the job of me and my husband - to protect this marriage and defend it from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  No one else's marriage - be it Paul Newman and Joane Woodward's 50 year marriage or Kim Kardashian's 72-day marriage (my, she hasn't finished writing the thank-you notes yet!) - attacks my own.

In North Carolina, we're very pro-marriage.  So much so, that we'll let a 14-year-old walk down the aisle, provided she's pregnant or has already had a child and is marrying the child's father.  (A 14-year-old boy can also take advantage of this provision to marry his pregnant girlfriend, provided the pregnant girlfriend is at least 14.)  Seriously.  Click here - and remember that not too long ago, the age for a pregnant girl to marry the "putative father" (to get all legal-like on you) was TWELVE.  I'll let that serve as Legal Lesson Two - marriage is such a bedrock institution of our society that children who can't test for a driver's license can enter into it, yet it's too fragile to permit a committed gay couple to get within two furlongs of it.

The other argument seems to be, "Well, we're the only state in the Southeast that hasn't amended the constitution in this way."  To me, this is the "if everybody jumped off a bridge" argument.  Not to mention, following South Carolina's lead on social issues turned out so very well for us back around 1860, didn't it?

Next Post:  Why saying "but it was legal where we got married!" probably won't cut it when you move.

1 comment:

Athena Smith said...

Amen! Looking forward to part 2.