02 April 2007

Voting No

Herewith, five reasons to vote "no" on tomorrow's same-sex benefits advisory election that have nothing to do with what you believe about the policy of granting employment benefits to same-sex partners of state employees:

  • Constitutions should not be used to make policy calls. The U.S. tried that with Prohibition and it did not work. Constitutions are documents that set the parameters for a government to work within (e.g. there are branches of government, the head of the executive is called the governor) and then people need to make the policy calls within those rules.
  • Amending the constitution changes the rules of the game, post facto. The policy call to provide same-sex benefits was legally and constitutionally established by the existing rules of the game. The state supreme court is as legitimate a part of this government as any other. Presumably, we pay those judges to do something besides look pretty in their robes. In their ruling, they were simply doing the job we ask them to do - hold up laws to the standard of the constitution. This decision should be seen as a triumph of the constitutional system.
  • Speaking of rules of the game, there is no constitutional provision for an advisory vote. Tomorrow's vote doesn't even fall into the rules of the vote established by our constitution's writers.
  • If state lawmakers really want to know what we think, why not conduct a poll? It would save money, save our time, and result in probably a more accurate sampling of the population. This election is going to cost a lot of money and it will likely only represent the opinions of those who are excessively partisan on this issue because they'll be the ones most likely to make it to the polls on a non-traditional election day.
  • If state lawmakers really are interested in what I think, why are they moving ahead with a constitutional amendment in the legislature? If tomorrow's vote is intended to figure out what Alaskans think so that lawmakers can be guided in their decisions, it seems like a group of lawmakers have incredible powers of clairvoyance.
I'm most swayed by the first and last reasons.

8 comments:

First Alaskan Man said...

While I agree with you on principle Jessie, when “benefits”, “marriage”, and “homosexuals” are mentioned in the same breath, I get all religious. It’s an integral part of my psychological make up.
While I have both straight and gay friends, I think that elevating any couple to the stature and in my mind, the sanctity of marriage is plain wrong. As I wrote on under a nom de guerre (it is a personal thing, I don’t want arguments colored by race) “I find it vexing that on one hand we have many good people screaming separation of Church and State: then on the other, screaming that they have the right to enjoin the State to the Church.” Marriage is a religious requirement for my spiritual belief, not a legal one.
If this were offered to heterosexual couples who choose not to marry from personal convictions as well as homosexuals who cannot marry, I would vote in granting these same bennies. We know right from wrong and in the end, it is between them and God.

Anonymous said...

I am voting no, and a strong no, but I think there's something to what the above poster said.
Why are we linking health insurance and other types of employment benefits to marriage in the first place?
There are all kinds of families in all kinds of relationships, all made up of individuals who are economically dependent on each other. Why should, say, a working single mom living in a multi-generational household not be able to provide insurance for the relatives who live with her and depend on her income?
In this day and age, we need more people covered by health insurance, not fewer. And in this day and age, we need to stop assuming that most families, and all Proper Families, are of the Ozzie-and-Harriet, mom-and-dad-and-two kids variety (by the way, that's how my family is).
Marriage is one thing, and it's a serious thing. Health insurance is something completely separate, in my view. I don't see the point of making health insurance contingent on marriage.

CabinDweller said...

I voted no. And I believe that under the current system at the University of Alaska, unmarried hetero couples can share benefits, although there are some requirements/legal hoops to jump through. So same sex partners aren't getting special privileges.

As to the sanctity of marriage and whether it somehow demeans marriage by allowing homosexual pairs to marry - perhaps a distinction should be made between the civil institution of marriage which has nothing to do with religion - and the marriages performed by various churches (for example, the Catholic Church, where marriage is a sacrament.)

I don't see how two folks running off to Vegas and getting married by an Elvis impersonator have some special degree of sanctity that would be threatened by a committed same sex couple. And when a judge marries two people, that judge's religion and that of the two prospective spouses (or lack thereof) never enters into it.

Cyn said...

Gee, so two atheists get married, is it legal? Yes. Is it religious? No. Stop being so sanctimonious, commenter, about marriage. When more than half the weddings I go to end in DIVORCE I'd say the only thing undermining marriage between heterosexuals is the heterosexuals. But nice try using all those gay folks as scapegoats for your own disfunctional (marriage) state. I vote a resounding NO!

First Alaskan Man said...

Civil Unions; now that is a thought, Anonymous had it right in that we need more health insurance for all, regardless of sexual orientation. These are my benefits and I should be able to designate whomever I choose to receive them. After all it’s my money.
Cyn? What makes you think that homosexual marriages would last longer then heterosexual ones? Saying that because heterosexuals divorce rate is high, homosexuals getting married would give marriage a better name? I think we are comparing apples to oranges here.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought if you voted yes on this you would also deny benefits to heterosexual (opposite sex) couples that are currently getting it. So if true, a couple posters lose their arguments for a yes vote.(even if voting no).

Cyn said...

ak guy: whether gay marriages last longer than non gay marriages is immaterial. Conservatives are insisting that gay marriages "undermine" traditional marriages. My point was that traditional marriages are doing a fine job undermining themselves. I've been married for 23 yrs. I see an ongoing social trend AGAINST the institution of marriage precisely because, Americans at least, can't seem to make it work. I fully believe 60% of gay unions will eventually fail, which would reflect the same failure of heterosexual unions. Which, BTW, also reflects the same failure of business partnerships. Interesting, huh?

First Alaskan Man said...

Hi Cyn, interesting and thank you for some great things to think about.
I would really have liked to see this whole benefits issue be whether
a state worker if unmarried, has the right to issue their bennies to whomever s/he wished. What bugs me is when we have folks, and expressly the politicians, hiding behind God or religion rather then getting front and center to duke it out in front of God and religion. I was being hopeful that they would read that part of the bible that talks about rendering under Cesar what is Cesar’s. Instead, we see a bunch of hand wringing as they scurry about intoning that “the public hasn’t decided” as their excuse for inaction. Wait until election time though, and then we see them all out here, talking about what “leadership” or “stewardship” positions they hold. Almost makes me turn democrat. If it is the underlying cost savings the republicans see realized for those who cohabitate without marrying, it is deplorable. Well, my how I do rant, sorry about that, it’s the frustrations of seeing a double standard applied and my religion being used in the fray.
Let me close it out on a pleasant thought by way of apology: Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if the same 60% statistical failure rate applied to 3rd term politicians?