Today’s Washington Post reports that Virginia is on the verge of becoming the newest state to have a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on its ballot:
A proposal to write a ban on same-sex marriage into the Virginia Constitution has won easy Senate passage.
With only a fraction of the debate the measure received yesterday, the Senate wrapped up its work on the resolution today by passing it on a 28-to-11 vote.
That sends it to the House where easy passage is also expected. After that, it heads to the statewide ballot in November for the required voter approval to amend it to the Constitution.
On the whole, it will probably good for Virginia Republicans to have this measure on the ballot during the mid-term elections, since it will virtually guarantee a high turnout among voting blocs that are consistently Republican. For me, though, how to vote on this proposed amendment in November is an easy call.
To put it simply, it would be hypocritical of me to maintain my assertion that I believe in individual liberty in all circumstances except where the rights of another are at issue and support an amendment that would deny people the right to enter into contracts of their choosing. That is precisely what this amendment would do because in addition to barring gay marriage it also bars contractual relationships that “approximate” marriage. Does this mean that the amendment would bar someone from giving another person power of attorney simply because the two people involved happen to be homosexual ? Quite frankly, nobody knows.
While I am generally in sympathy with the argument that a change as radical as this in an institution such as marriage should not be imposed by the Courts, I also don’t believe that one segment of society has the right to tell another that they don’t have the right to live their lives the way they want. In other words, for me at least, its about individual liberty, not my personal moral opinions about homosexuality. Given these first principles, which way I will vote in November should be eminently clear.
There are far more important things than this that the legislators and voters of Virginia need to worry about. We’ve got a Governor barely a month into office already talking about raising taxes and Republicans who seem all to eager to help him. Maybe we should spend time worrying about that rather than the private lives of the citizens of the Old Dominion.
Update 1/26: Here is the text of the proposed amendment that would appear on the ballot:
BILL OF RIGHTS
Section 15-A. Marriage.
That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.
This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.
The ballot shall contain the following question:
“Question: Shall Article I (the Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to state, in part, that ‘only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions’ and to add provisions relating to the legal status of other relationships and prohibiting the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions from recognizing a legal status for relationships that intend to approximate marriage?”
Its about as bad as I feared.