Friday, January 14, 2011

Republicans In West Virgina Look to "Protect" Traditional Marriage

On Wednesday, the West Virgina GOP announced that one of their main legislative agendas this congressional term is allowing the citizens of that state to vote on the marriages of others. The Associated Press has the story...

In a release sent out by Republican minority leader Tim Armstead, House Republicans call for the strengthening of West Virginia's Defense for Marriage statute to prevent it from being overturned by a Supreme Court. 
Delegate Rick Snuffer, R-Raleigh, said the people of West Virginia should be allowed to vote on the amendment and decide for themselves if "one man, one woman," marriage should be the definition in the state's constitution. 
Snuffer, a freshman delegate, said the Legislature needs to act proactively before a decision elsewhere forces lawmakers to make a decision on the issue. According to information provided at the press conference by Republican officials, the state Supreme Court of Appeals voted 3-2 to not hear a prior challenge to current law by homosexual couples. 
Republican officials in West Virginia say West Virginians overwhelmingly support traditional definitions of marriage as one man and one woman.
Snuffer goes on to say, which shows the real reasoning behind this drive for a vote, that,
A lot of times our friends across the aisle will say they are pro-choice, but they don't want to choose whether or not you choose a gun. They don't want you to choose where your kids go to school. They 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. Let the people vote and let's get it over with once and for all." (emphasis added)
You see here is where Snuffer gets into dangerous territory. Instead of recognizing that personal (mainly religious) opinions about morality and definitions do not have a place in  the public sphere, he accuses the Democrats of being "anti-choice" by not allowing those opinions to be codified into West Virgina law. 

The full text of the proposed amendment actually goes much further than this "protection" of traditional marriage. It says, 
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.
Does this amendment exclude only marriage? Not at all, for it also excludes any legal status for same-sex relationships period.  It does not even allow for civil unions or domestic partnerships. This my friends, is a devaluation of our relationships, for these legislators are inferring that our relationships are somehow inferior to those of heterosexuals and thus should not be allowed to even exist legally. Kevin McCoy of the West Virgina Family Foundation states this in no uncertain terms when he says,
The amendment will also preserve the unique legal benefits that are provided for this sacred institution and prohibit counterfeit relationships such as homosexual 'civil unions' and 'domestic partner benefits,' which are homosexual 'marriage' by another name.
That is the true aim of those who are supposedly "protecting traditional marriage." They don't care a bit about the term, instead their whole ideology and goal is to delegitimize us as LGBT people, and for that we should call them out.  If you live in West Virgina, make sure to contact your legislators and tell them that this amendment goes way to far. 

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