Once again, I have been published as an editorial correspondent in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, my local, homegrown paper, here in Richmond, VA. This time, the letter to the editor is about the ballot measure voted on two days ago (that, sadly, passed). The measure would amend the Virginia Constitution to make it impossible for the General Assembly to pass a law recognizing any type of civil union between people who share the same biological gender.
First of all, biological gender is not a measure of anything. Being a woman doesn’t mean you can have a child. Being a man doesn’t mean you get your jollies by pissing standing up. There are so many ridiculous stereotypes about men and women and so many have been disproven, but here in Virginia, the men are men and the sheep are scared. No, sorry, that’s Maryland.
Anyway, let’s just take a look at the Amendment in all its legalistic glory:
Section 15-A. Marriage.
That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or
recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its
political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.
Ironically, though it is taking away people’s civil rights, this is being added to Virginia’s Bill of Rights. When I first read this it seemed to say to me that business partnerships between non-married people would be suddenly illegal. Then I read it again and I realized it was just an attempt to get out the conservative vote by attacking gay people and our friends the bigamists.
My letter, published in the 11/2/06 edition at the bottom of the page under the heading ‘Amendment Provokes Readers’:
Editor, Times-Dispatch: To really help the institution of marriage, instead of limiting people’s rights through the demonizing of sexual minorities and the abuse of Virginia’s Constitution, the General Assembly should seek practical answers.
For example: Why not allow couples to get married provisionally? Provisional marriages would carry the same legal weight as regular marriages except that as soon as children become involved, the marriage automatically becomes a permanent marriage, with cause to legally divorce only for abuse, neglect, or incarceration. In other words, no divorce (in most cases).
A provisional marriage might break up for any reason and does not require the intervention of the legal clan. It could also be formed at will by any two people of legal age who file a notarized form with their local jurisdiction. Breaking the provisional marriage is also achieved through filing with the local jurisdiction.
Religious consecration of the marriage would be a personal decision between the couple, their church, and their God. All other personal matters between the two would be just that — personal. Jeffrey S. Fowler. richmond.