The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Bob Barr Backs Gay Marriage

Not exactly.

The California Supreme Court ruling has brought Bob Barr — presidential candidate and sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act — out from under his rock to make the following statement.

“Regardless of whether one supports or opposes same sex marriage, the decision to recognize such unions or not ought to be a power each state exercises on its own, rather than imposition of a one-size-fits-all mandate by the federal government (as would be required by a Federal Marriage Amendment which has been previously proposed and considered by the Congress). The decision today by the Supreme Court of California properly reflects this fundamental principle of federalism on which our nation was founded.

“Indeed, the primary reason for which I authored the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 was to ensure that each state remained free to determine for its citizens the basis on which marriage would be recognized within its borders, and not be forced to adopt a definition of marriage contrary to its views by another state. The decision in California is an illustration of how this principle of states’ powers should work.”

Color me unimpressed.

One size does fit all for heterosexuals. Full faith and credit assures that they’re just as married in Massachusetts as they are in Mississippi.

Just let one state, any state, try and refuse to recognized a heterosexual marriage legally entered into in another state and see what happens. I guarantee that heterosexual couples would not have to put up with losing their legal rights, losing custody of their children, and losing their health benefits just by moving to another state. Trust me.

Lawsuits would be filed. Legislation would be passed. Mountains would move.

Why should it be different for us? Why should we lose our legal rights — our legal relationships to each other and our children — just by crossing state lines?

Here’s a “for instance.” Let’s say that David and Jonathan, a same-sex couple legally married in the state where they live, go on vacation with Mary and Joseph, a legally married heterosexual couple who live down the street from David and Jonathan. They decide on a road trip to see some historic sites in the next state over.

After they cross the state line, they check into a hotel and decide to head out for dinner. On the way to dinner, the two couples are in an automobile accident. David and Joseph are both seriously injured, and both are rushed to the same hospital. Jonathan and Mary both make their way to the hospital. Mary tells the paramedics, “I’m his wife” and she rides along in the ambulance. Jonathan, unsure of how he’ll be treated — whether, as a partner in a civil union or domestic partnership from another state, he will be allowed to ride in the ambulance with David — asks a police officer for a ride to the hospital behind his “friend’s” ambulance. Well, at least they both make it to the hospital.

At the hospital, Mary tells the emergency room personnel, “I’m his wife,” and is ushered into an area with her husband, and later to a waiting area where she receives regular updates on his condition until she’s able to see him.

Jonathan, upon seeing David being removed from the ambulance, forgets his earlier caution, jumps out of the police car, and runs along behind David’s gurney as he’s wheeled to an examination area. At some point, a hospital employee notices Jonathan, stops him, and asks who he is. Upon saying “I’m his partner,” Jonathan is told that unless he can produce proof of their relationship, he will not be allowed to see David or get any information about his condition, because he is “not next of kin.”

Fortunately, David and Jonathan never travel without their legal documents — advanced directives, medical powers of attorney, etc. But Jonathan realizes the documents are in their luggage, back at the hotel. After looking up the number of a taxi service, a seemingly endless wait, and a equally long taxi ride back to the hotel, Jonathan finds the luggage, locates their documents, takes the taxi (which has been waiting) back to the hospital, shows them to hospital staff, and is finally admitted to see David.

It’s been at least three hours since they first arrived at the hospital, and longer since the accident itself. Mary, during this time, has been with her husband. All she needed was three words. Jonathan, on the other hand, had to retrieve legal documents to prove his relationship to David, and had to do so all the while not knowing David’s condition, or whether David would be alive when he got back to the hospital. Fortunately, Jonathan made it back in time. But sometimes we don’t.

John Crisci and Michael Tartaglia, his partner of 33 years, thought they had done everything right. They had wills and other paperwork drawn up giving each other the right to make medical and financial decisions for each other, and specifying which relatives should inherit their assets when they die.

They packed the papers for long trips Crisci didn’t have the documents with him when Tartaglia collapsed at a gym on the morning on his 70th birthday nearly two years ago. An EMT suggested he run home to get the paperwork rather than risk getting into a dispute with hospital officials over medical decisions.

Crisci knew he was too late when a doctor and chaplain were waiting to talk to him at the hospital. To him, the story shows why same-sex couples should be able to register as domestic partners and get many of the same rights as married couples under Colorado law.

The difference between the two situations is that Joseph and Mary are in a legal marriage that is recognized no matter where they go. David and Jonathan are in a civil union or domestic partnership — or perhaps neither, if their state has not established either, and just have a few legal documents that define their relationship. But David and Jonathan’s legal relationship to other evaporates along with any attendant rights.

The difference is that Mary simply had to say, “I’m his wife” and she was treated accordingly. (Having Joseph recognize her as such probably helped) Jonathan, however, had to present legal proof of his relationship to Jonathan, which he was wise to have travelled with an lucky to have found, because without it he would have had no rights where David was concerned that the hospital would be legally bound to recognize. A hospital in the state where they were married, and where they live, would have had to recognize their legal rights or face potential legal consequences.

I’d ask Barr or anyone else who takes his position to tell me why things should be different for Mary and Joseph than for David and Jonathan, but my guess is they’d say things should be that way until the citizens in the next state (and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next,) put it to a vote. Then, I guess, the concern is whether of not they’ll change their mind further down the road. That wouldn’t affect Mary and Joseph, though. David and Jonathan, however, may find their legal rights up for grabs every November.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. States’ rights (which is essentially what Barr — the other black guy running for president — is talking about) has never in the history of this country been employed to extend civil rights to any group of citizens. It has only ever been employed to deny some people their civil rights.

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: More on marriage « Sheri In Salt Lake

  2. Barr is just trying to spin his earlier positions into stands consistent with his recent “conversion” to Libertarianism. He was 100 percent the Patriot Act and the Clinton impeachment, both of which true Libertarians would deplore. He has cried himself to sleep every night since voters gave him the boot, and he’ll say ANYTHING to get back inside the Beltway.

    Interesting you would say he’s black…apparently you’re not the only one who thinks so.

  3. OK, so Mr. Barr doesn’t convince many folks that he’s a changed man as far as gay marriage is concerned. But Clinton deserved to be impeached for his approval and involvement in Echelon and the Monica Lewinsky affair. Liberals cried foul at the amount of time and money spent making the case against Clinton, and I wouldn’t be surprised if conservatives cried just as loud if the same time and money were spent prosecuting George W.

    Getting back to the gay marriage issue, have any liberals forgotten that Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also oppose gay marriage? Think they’re not opposing it to get more votes?

    For all the mistrust about Bob Barr, A Libertarian is the closest we’ll get to legalizing gay marriage in every state. Not much, but it’s a start.

  4. “States’ rights (which is essentially what Barr — the other black guy running for president — is talking about) has never in the history of this country been employed to extend civil rights to any group of citizens. It has only ever been employed to deny some people their civil rights.”

    You are wrong, Terrence! The states to which you refer were the Southern states, which had already seceded from the Union. Slavery had just been outlawed in the North, the Southern states refused to follow suit, and so for that and other reasons, the Civil War began.

    Today, the US Govt. seeks to deny all of us our constitutional rights. That’s what the Libertarian Party is all about. Also, keep in mind that McCain, Obama and Hillary Clinton are also opposed to gay marriage. Also remember that Bill Clinton himself signed DOMA into law. We’ll all just have to face the fact that gay marriage is a hot coal for a lot of politicians. One candidate can’t please everybody. I support gay marriage, but on all other issues, Bob Barr is the closest thing we’ll get to throwing off the chains the Bush regime has placed on us. Gay marriage will simply have to wait a while longer.

  5. Mary, the libertarian party is not about deny people constitutional rights. The LP is FOR constitutional rights, especially the Bill of Rights. Perhaps, I am just misunderstanding what you are saying.

    And it IS true that Obama does not support gay marriage. I just heard tonight on the VP debate.

    For the blog poster: vote Green party!

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