Another Loudoun newspaper weighs in on Ballot Question #1.
October 11, 2006
We have just four more weeks until voters go to the polls on Nov. 7. Along with candidates seeking to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate and Virginia’s 10th District in Congress, there is a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that we don’t really need. It’s called the “Marriage Amendment.” It would require that marriage be defined in Virginia only as the union between one man and one woman.
Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell has made a careful study of its wording and says the amendment, if passed, would change nothing in current state law.
The goal of the amendment in fact is to prevent some future state judge from ruling that some benefit of marriage under Virginia law should be extended to a same-sex couple. This begs the question: If two people are living together, as in any common law marriage, regardless of whether the couple is the same sex or not, why shouldn’t they have the same legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage?
In America, we are proud of the high level of individual rights and religious freedoms that each of us enjoys. These rights have deep roots in our colonial heritage. Many of our original colonies served as havens for those seeking to escape one kind or another of religious intolerance in Europe. That heritage has made America among the most tolerant of nations, and in general, our laws reflect that. And to assure freedom of religion, our federal Constitution requires that Congress make no law infringing on the right of each individual to practice his or her chosen religion, or to choose no religion.
Today, many churches are grappling with questions about gay rights and some parishes have severed their traditional relationships with their own church leadership over these issues. These actions leave individual church members having to make choices about whether to follow their church or to find another church in which to worship. Those choices rightfully are individual decisions to be made without influence by any government.
The marriage amendment is on the ballot because a majority of state legislators are trying to preempt a future action by some judge somewhere in Virginia. But in so doing, the State Legislature is bringing government into an issue that properly should be left to individuals.
How my neighbors have chosen to live together is none of my business as long as they are good neighbors who obey the law and are willing to render assistance to myself and others in the neighborhood when needed. Their personal relationship, with each other and with God, is not my business even though it contrasts with my own choices. That’s what individual rights in America is all about ““ or should be.
State legislators have no ethical business in blocking any specific couples from the privileges and responsibilities of marriage. Voters who want to preserve individual rights and promote tolerance in our society, will vote “No” on the marriage amendment, regardless of their own personal views about gay couples.