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.