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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stopping West Virginia's Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

By Tom Basgil -

Sixth time’s the charm? I sure hope not.
For the sixth year in a row, West Virginia will be considering a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between “one man and one woman.” Last Thursday, the WV Senate and House issued a joint resolution calling for a public vote on marriage in 2012. Spearheaded in the Senate by Republican Senators David Nohe and Donna Boley, the Marriage Protection Amendment will force the state to ban all recognition of marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships between same-gender couples. It reads:
“Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for same-sex relationships to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities or effects of marriage.”
The state already has a law banning the recognition of any sort of same-sex relationship. Some voters are still fearful that boogie-men and women (i.e. “activist judges”) might creep out from under their beds and force gay marriages on them without an official constitutional amendment. To protect against this fear, the WV Republican caucus made cementing marriage inequality into the constitution one of their top five issues of the year. Not content to stop there, the language of the bill will also prohibit municipalities from giving benefits to same-gender spouses.
This could turn into a brutal battle. Last year, provided a disturbing video where gay activists were using crosshairs to target a heterosexual family. Even in light of the recent debates over political rhetoric, we are sure to see some nasty advertisements demonizing same-gender couples. Kevin McCoy, the president of the West Virginia Family Foundation, will be bringing in help from other organizations, including the notoriously anti-gay American Family Association. McCoy said, “The amendment will … prohibit counterfeit relationships such as homosexual ‘civil unions’ and ‘domestic partner benefits,’ which are homosexual ‘marriage’ by another name.” Another group, the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, delivered 6,000 anti-marriage petitions to the legislature.
Republican House member Rick Snuffer has some words of wisdom. “A lot of times our friends across the aisle will say they are pro-choice, but … [t]hey don’t want you to choose your definition of marriage, so they’re not really pro-choice. If they’re pro-choice, let the people choose their definition of marriage," Snuffer said. Thus, West Virginians' choices will still be a.) heterosexual marriage, or b.) heterosexual marriage. Apparently, Snuffer wants to rewrite the dictionary’s definition of choice. Wouldn’t a real choice be to allow two adults to decide what kind of relationship they would like?
I don’t know about you, but no one voted on whether my parents could get married, and I turned out just fine. Hopefully, some legislators in West Virginia will get the message.

petition text -
Please Vote Against Marriage Protection Amendment!


I am writing to you to express my concern over Senate Joint Resolution 5 and House Joint Resolution 18 that propose amending the West Virginia state constitution to ban marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. The Marriage Protection Amendment does not protect marriage. Denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry weakens the institution of marriage by sullying it with discrimination and prejudice. West Virginia already has a law in place that prohibits recognizing relationships between consenting, same-sex adults. A constitutional amendment is redundant, especially with other issues, like the economy, demanding our full attention.

I support marriage equality and the idea that two consenting adults deserve governmental recognition of their relationship. It is dehumanizing to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders for their rights to be put up to a popular vote. Same-sex couples should not have to prove the strength of their love, dedication, and commitment to the voters.

Gay and lesbian couples already miss out on more than 1,000 federal benefits because of the Defense of Marriage Act. Couples who love each should not be penalized for their gender. The American Psychological Association, the leading organization for psychology in the US, has found that same-sex couples are just as good as their heterosexual counterparts in raising healthy children and that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying is damaging to parents and children alike.

Please vote against the Marriage Protection Amendment. Do what is right. West Virginia does not need to become synonymous with discrimination.

[Your name here] 


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