Domestic partnership law doesn't go far enough
May 22, 2009 · 1:33 PM
I have said this before and I am sure I will say it again, but in this context, it certainly bears repeating: I am not gay.
Not that it’s really of your business anyway, but despite my insistence on always matching my shoes and belt before I leave the house, I am a big fan of the ladies.
I am also not planning on getting married any time soon, so I really don’t have a dog in this show.
That said, while I was pleased to see the governor on Monday sign a new law granting to domestic partners all of the rights and privileges that simply come with marriage, it just does not go far enough.
Monday morning on the way in, I was listening to one of my favorite talk-radio programs and former Republican gubernatorial candidate and full-time melon-head member of the Right Wing Echo Chamber (and sometime Reporter contributor) John Carlson was making a case that as Seattle was becoming more “gay-friendly,” it was becoming less “family-friendly.”
Aside from being unable to wrap my head around the idea of conservatives who wanted the government to control who can and can’t get married - as opposed to more individual freedoms - for the life of me, I could not figure out how those two things were opposites.
I have known many gay people in committed relationships and know of many gay people raising children.
Being gay does not mean not having or not wanting a family and I cannot stand using the phrase “family-friendly” to try and hide the hard, basic fact that Carlson, like many others, is a bigot.
He doesn’t think gay people should have the same rights as him. That’s bigotry. And while it’s OK in America to BE a closed-minded homophobe, it is not alright to codify it.
(And by the way, doesn’t the simple fact that this new law expands the “rights and responsibilities of state-registered domestic partners” prove that gay people are denied rights, something the state constitution strictly and explicitly prohibits? Therefore, current marriage laws are unconstitutional as they confer rights on one class of people that are denied another. But I digress. When has logic ever factored into Washington state politics?)
And please, don’t write in attacking me with your Christianity because a) it doesn’t matter. My god says gay people can get married and therefore you are stepping on my religious freedoms; b) Jesus also said to love everyone as if they were your brother and “everyone” includes gays. He also said “judge not lest ye be judged,” so before you start thinking you know what’s going on in God’s brain, check yourself; and c) “bigot” is 100 percent the right word; look it up.
But then, Monday afternoon, the New York Times published an article essentially proving my point: that being anti-gay and being “family-friendly” are NOT the same thing.
The article told the tale of a Washington state couple visiting Florida on a family vacation. The parents of this family of five happen to be two women who have been together for 18 years.
While on vacation, one of the women suffered an aneurysm and collapsed. After she was rushed to the hospital, the article states, the woman’s spouse and children (all of whom she adopted) were denied access to see her (the woman’s partner was allowed in once) because they were not “real family.”
While the story does not say the women were officially registered domestic partners, it does speak of them having all other paperwork together including health-care proxy papers, all of which were faxed to Florida.
It didn’t matter. The woman’s partner was kept in the dark about the patient’s condition until a sister arrived and that woman was given the whole story. The patient died the next morning.
Imagine if it was your wife or husband and you were denied access to their hospital room simply because someone else’s religious views belittled your love.
Please, anyone, tell me how that was “family-friendly.” I implore you: Make me see how denying someone access to their partner of 18 years (by the way, according to the US Census bureau, the average first marriage lasts only eight years) is a “family friendly” argument because I can only see it as pure, unadulterated bigotry and hatred.
But along with the stupid “family-friendly” argument and the blatant unconstitutionality of denying someone these rights simply because of who they are attracted to, the story highlights why the new Washington law does not go far enough.
This law attempts to create a “separate but equal” scenario in which straight people get married and gays do not. It failed after Plessy v. Ferguson and it is guaranteed to fail again.
Even if every single right and benefit is transferred, the case of the family in Florida highlights why this system will not work: The rights and benefits the new law provides only covers Washington.
The federal Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed by the Republican Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, allows other states to ignore the Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause by denying one state’s “marriage” for a federal definition: One man and one woman.
It’s a terrible law that should not be supported by anyone who considers himself a conservative for several reasons, the least of which being that it allows Washington, D.C., to dictate its views over that of the states and localities.
It also means that unlike any other legal contract signed in any state (and if you don’t believe marriage is a legal contract, ask someone who’s been divorced how much they paid a lawyer to get them out of the religious institution of marriage), the people of Florida do not have to respect our laws and contracts if they don’t want.
That’s ridiculous. DOMA should be repealed as unconstitutional and Washington should start granting marriage licenses to any two consenting adults who want to enter such a contract. Only then will this be a truly family-friendly state and country.
Because in my book, “family-friendly” means allowing a family like this their last moments together instead of hiding bigotry behind happy-sounding phrases and hypocritical buzzwords.