Monday, October 20, 2008

It's Monday and the Arizona Republic Ways In On Proposition 102

Marriage amendment

Oct. 20, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

One of the best arguments against a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is this: Secretary of State Jan Brewer blocked ballot language that would have told voters that state law already prohibits such marriages.

If voters were clear on existing law, many might decide there's no reason to adopt the amendment.

Changing the state Constitution is a very serious step that has ripple effects through the legal system. The possibilities for unintended consequences are enormous. And they can only be fixed with another trip to the voters for another change in the Constitution.

That was glaringly obvious with the previous run at a constitutional amendment defining marriage. The proposition, defeated in 2006, was very broadly written, extending to local governments and applying to domestic partnerships of any type.

This time around, the language is narrower. Proposition 102 states that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in this state.

This is not quite as straightforward as it sounds. The amendment clearly aims to disallow same-sex marriages that are legal in a few other states.

Refusing to recognize another state's contracts brings up federal constitutional issues. What about other types of same-sex legal partnerships?

Lawyers could use up a lot of billable hours parsing the exact meaning of "union" and "marriage."

Arizona must get beyond the acrimony fueled by the fight over Proposition 102.

Already, the state has gone a long way toward rejecting the notion that sexual orientation has any bearing on a person's rights or place in society.

As gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals no longer feel compelled to hide in the closet, we see that they're our friends, colleagues and, often, family members.

Personal relations are dispelling the clouds of prejudice and ignorance.

Supporters of Proposition 102 call themselves "Arizona for Marriage."

They're right to worry about the condition of marriage. The institution is in sorry shape.

Statisticians vary on how to interpret the numbers, but as many as one out of two marriages ends in a breakup.

The divorce rate has improved in recent years, but a big reason is that fewer people are getting married.

Too many men are fathering children without shouldering the responsibility of creating a family.

One-parent households, closely linked to poverty, are more common than ever.

None of this has anything to do with whether same-sex couples can or cannot get married.

Arizona could use strong advocates of marriage. They should spend their time and energy hunting for real ways to shore it up.

Proposition 102 is a needless distraction. Voters should reject it.

No comments: