Not So Simple

Loudoun Connection
September 27
By David Weintraub
President, Equality Loudoun

Thank you to Erika Jacobson for her sensitive article about The Cypress Project, the foundation formed to help those targeted by anti-gay hate crimes in the wake of the attack on our friends in Aldie.

I do have one small criticism, and I say this with the understanding that space is a precious commodity in newspapers. Brevity is important, but accuracy ought to be even more highly valued – especially when our fundamental rights are at stake. It is tempting to save space by describing the proposed amendment that will be on the ballot Nov. 7 with the shorthand “which would define marriage as between one man and one woman,” but that is only a small part of what it would do. In fact, the amendment would add language to Virginia’s Bill of Rights that is unprecedented both in current law and in the amendments passed in other states.

It would permanently bar our legislature from considering civil unions for same sex couples, a compromise that most Virginians say they support. The overly broad and ambiguous language would do even more than that, though. It would prohibit courts from enforcing a legal contract entered into by any unmarried couple – gay or straight – if that contract “intends to approximate” any of the rights or obligations normally obtained through marriage. The contracts that would be made vulnerable are ones made to ensure the very things that married couples take for granted – for example, the right to be with and make medical decisions for an injured loved one.

There are many compassionate people who believe that marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman – as it already is in Virginia, but would not want to jeopardize rights so fundamental to the security and well being of their unmarried neighbors. Virginians should know how important it is for them to read the whole amendment and carefully consider the implications for everyone before they vote this November. Then they should do the right thing by voting no on No. 1.

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