What’s next?

Leesburg Today
October 13, 2006
By David Weintraub, Lovettsville

Maureen Whalen (Letters, Oct. 2) must have an unusual definition of the term “harm,” to say the least. The so-called”Marriage Affirmation Act”to which she refers has already been used by a Virginia court to overturn a custody agreement and deprive a child of one of her parents, in defiance of federal law. It has resulted in an exodus from the Commonwealth of people who can’t or won’t risk becoming a test case for the integrity of their medical directives and other critical legal contracts. And it has resulted in Virginia losing business. The American Psychological Association has decided to move its annual meetings, worth millions of dollars in revenue, out of Virginia, because of concerns that the legal contracts of some of its members and employees will not be honored. That is just the beginning.

As if this is not enough, the harm threatened by the proposed amendment is far greater.

Ms. Whalen erroneously believes that Ballot Question #1 would simply “write the same provision into the Virginia Constitution.” Because it would affect not just gay couples, but also all unmarried straight couples in Virginia, it represents a vast, and permanent, expansion of government power to intrude into family life. There are many, many more straight unmarried couples in Virginia than there are gay couples.

Virginia doesn’t have any activist judges. Judges in Virginia (unlike in Massachusetts) must be re-appointed by our conservative legislature, meaning that there is zero chance of a judge overturning the definition of marriage in Virginia law. The real issue is whether Virginians are willing to risk the unpredictable consequences of inviting government into our personal relationships. If we give the courts the power to decide whether a contract between two individuals “intends to approximate” a right, benefit, obligation, quality or effect associated with marriage, what’s next?

Read it all, and then vote no on Ballot Question #1.

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