“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.