Friday, September 16, 2011
Forward, to the past
I don't get this. For the past year, national polls measuring views on full marriage equality, when the choices are simply yes or no, come up about evenly divided. Northeast & West Coast are more in favor than South & Midwest. But when there are three choices; full marriage equality, domestic partnerships / civil unions, or no recognition, around a whopping 70% of Americans favor some kind of legal recognition for gay & lesbian couples. The hinge remains the word marriage. In Michigan, the legislature is acting against the preferences of a large majority of its constituents.
Michiganders & Americans support basic legal rights & protections for same sex couples. Approving a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man & a woman, as Michigan did, doesn't change that. A lot of straight people, mainly over the age of 40, have problems applying the word marriage to same sex couples. Michigan voted against gay marriage, not against civil unions, & if they were polled today it's what the polls would indicate. Most Americans by large margin want same sex couples recognized in some way as legitimate households, if not as husband & husband or wife & wife. True, Michigan has some very rural districts. In New Jersey, I doubt if any Republican has been elected to the statehouse with a mandate to roll back Jersey's civil union laws (despite what a few of them may believe), as he or she did not win election based on that issue. I suspect the same applies for most Republican legislators in Michigan. A large majority of Jerseyans support our civil union legislation, & there's been remarkably little complaint about it. It went into effect, we accepted it.
If there's a problem in Michigan defining a domestic partnership, if the state civil service commission has defined it in such a way that it could result in an abuse of benefits by couples that are not really committed "partners," the state legislature should deal with that matter & tighten the eligibility requirements with some stronger contractual standards, not use it as an excuse for homo-bigotry.
Unless The United States morphs into a theocratic police state, always a possibility if we stay on the road we're traveling, the next few generations of Americans will be repealing all these anti-marriage equality laws & amendments, except in Mississippi.