Hudson's Election Guide, Part 2: Amendment C

Channel-surfing after game two of the World Series finally ended this past Sunday night, I stumbled upon KELO’s silly little interview show, the unimaginatively-titled Inside KELO-Land. Hosted by Doug Lund, this particular episode dealt with Amendment C, aka the marriage amendment.
I have to say that I hadn’t spent a lot of time following the debate over this issue. Knowing that our state already has a law against gay marriage, I didn’t see the need for this constitutional amendment.
With absolutely nothing else on any other channel except for the same football highlights I’d been watching all day long, I decided to watch this debate between Robert Reiger, the executive director of the South Dakota Family Policy Council, and Jon Hoadley, who was representing South Dakotans Against Discrimination.
I should have known that within minutes I’d be angry. While Hoadley discussed the possible side effects of this bill, and most notably its inclusion of the phrase “quasi-marriage”, Reiger skated around the questions and just babbled on and on about the “sanctity of marriage”.
Of course, he also had to talk about the children. Oh, what about the children? In his view, kids must be raised in a traditional family with a mother and father. Given that half of all marriages fail, gay relationships should be just a small part of the failings of our society.
When Reiger started spouting this nonsense, I came close to losing my mind. We’re not living in the 50’s any more. In a typical man/woman relationship, women aren’t staying home baking and cleaning while the husband works a 9 -5 job. Economically, that’s almost impossible these days, particularly in this state where wages are dramatically lower than the national average. Both parents tend to hold jobs, and quite often one or both even hold a second gig just to make ends meet.
I sat there waiting and waiting to hear Reiger answer some of the points that Hadley brought up. What about the fact that the wording of this bill could affect senior citizens who can’t get married without losing social security benefits, or roommates who decide to chip in together to buy a car? Or what if you’re raising a child that’s biologically not yours? Under this bill you also quite possibly couldn’t appoint somebody to make medical and/or financial decisions for you.
What should scare even the straightest people in this state is its impact on domestic violence laws. Two years ago, Ohio passed a similar law that contained some of the same controversial definitions. Judges later argued that they could no longer recognize unmarried relationships with the same legal protections as a married relationship. In another case, Michigan state employees (straight and gay) saw the health insurance benefits of their partners taken away.
Reiger should be held to answer for these questions, but from what I’ve been told (and have read in some research for this rant) he does nothing but attack the messenger. In other appearances with Hoadley, he calls him a “homosexual activist” who will be dead by the time he’s 40 because of his “homosexual lifestyle”. As one friend noted, that has nothing to do with the issue and assumes Hoadley’s sexually active and doesn’t practice safe sex. C’mon, Robert, that kind of rhetoric may work when you’re in front of the morons who drink your awful flavor of Kool-Aid, but you come across as nothing but a fool when you make assumptions of your opponent’s personal life.
Personally, I think the state should get out of the marriage business anyway. The government has no business being involved in religious ceremonies, and they certainly shouldn’t listen to religious groups who claim that their beliefs should be held in higher regard than others. If one person’s faith of choice allows gays to have commitment ceremonies, how does that affect me?As everybody knows, I tried marriage once…and will more than likely never, ever do it again. I can barely stand to be with myself 24/7; I can’t imagine a scenario where I could deal with another person being around all the time. And I could care less that Johnny and Danny are doing next door…although I’d probably be a bit thrilled if suddenly Jenna and Teagan moved in. I definitely don’t want the Regier’s in my neighborhood…or anywhere else in my city. Hit the road, Robert.

Ten Reasons to Defeat Amendment C:
1. If you and your partner are straight and live together but aren’t married
No one knows what a “quasi-marital” relationship is in South Dakota. It is not defined in law, nor are there any relevant legal cases in South Dakota that define it. Any other time the term “quasi” is used in South Dakota, it has an established legal context. This time, it does not.

If you and your partner live together—whether you’re straight or gay—this could be used to take away your established legal contracts. One way this could be especially harmful would be if a widow and a widower wanted to remarry but did not because they would lose their Social Security or pension benefits. Their relationship could be deemed “quasi-marital” and all the legal contracts that they created—their wills, their durable power of attorneys, their joint property agreements—could be deemed unconstitutional and invalid.

2. If you are a victim of domestic violence and are seeking protection
The situation in Ohio proves that constitutional amendments that are poorly defined DO have unintended consequences. In 2004, Ohio passed a similar constitutional amendment to our proposed Amendment C. Judges argued they were forced to deny domestic violence protections to unmarried people because they could not recognize an unmarried relationship with the same legal protections as a married relationship.

For a more in-depth explanation of how Amendment C could affect our domestic violence laws, please review our white paper on the subject.

3. If you are a senior citizen living with a friend for financial reasons
Many seniors live with a friend for companionship, security, and financial reasons. Think of the two widows who move in together because they only need one car and they like the security of knowing that if one of them falls, the other can call an ambulance.

If Amendment C passes, they’re private legal contracts could be deemed “quasi-marital.” While they are not romantically involved at all, a judge may question whether their legal agreement copies too many of the protections of marriage and could open the door for a lesbian couple to do the same thing. Although this is not the intent of Amendment C, it is a legal possibility and we don’t need to risk changing the Constitution if this could be one of the unintended consequences.

4. If you are living on a Reservation and think your domestic partnership is protected under tribal law.
Some tribes recognize common law marriages that have legal standing when members leave the Reservation. Amendment C would legally prohibit the state from recognizing anything other than an official license issued by a government entity. This limits the types of laws that Tribes can pass.

5. If you believe your religious community should be able to decide the types of relationships it considers sacred
What makes America great is the fact that government doesn’t tell churches what to believe or how they should pray. In some faiths, gay and lesbian couples can marry or have a commitment ceremony—which the government doesn’t have to recognize. In some faiths, women are obligated to be submissive to their husbands. In some faiths, interracial marriage was frowned upon.

Whether we agree with every position a denomination or faith group takes isn’t what matters. What matters is that we can teach our children what we believe and talk about our values. But when one religious group starts saying their beliefs should be held above all other religious groups' beliefs, that’s a problem. South Dakota should treat all people fairly—including letting people make private legal contracts. The rest should be left up to the churches.

6. If you think you have taken all legal measures necessary to authorize a non-family member to make medical decisions for you
Medical decision-making is one of over 1,000 rights, responsibilities, and benefits associated with marriage. If a judge rules that contracting for these rights is “quasi-marital” and unconstitutional, these basic protections will be invalid and the money spent to hire expensive lawyers to draft them will have been wasted.

7. If you are a college student living in a dorm room with a roommate.
Is living with someone only a benefit of marriage? The law makes no distinction between a gay couple living together and two straight guys living together. Although we would hope that a judge wouldn’t be so callus to invalidate simple living arrangements, a lease is a legal contract. What they rule in one area of the law could affect a lot of innocuous situations.

8. If you or your family members are currently receiving domestic partnerships from an employer
Over half of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partnership benefits. Domestic partnership benefits usually refer to a basic package of agreements, which varies by company but usually includes access to health insurance, possible life insurance options, and family and medical leave options. Although these are offered by private companies, there are concerns that the wording of Amendment C, which says domestic partnerships would “not be valid or recognized IN South Dakota” (emphasis mine) could be used to sue private companies.

Our nation’s top companies think offering benefits to straight and gay domestic partnerships make good business sense and helps families. A “NO” vote is good for South Dakota businesses.

9. If you are raising a child that is not yours biologically
If you are helping to raise a child that is not your biologically—maybe because you’re good friends with one of the parents or you are dating or engaged to the parent—your rights could be affected. While family law is already complicated, Amendment C could call into question whether the legal contracts you create to care for that child emulates rights automatically granted when a couple marries (such as being able to pick a step-child up from school, act as their guardian, make emergency medical decisions, etc.)

Additionally, the adoption process could become even harder. Good families who would help keep kids out of foster homes could be denied adoptions if any part of their life seems too “quasi-marital” because one of the situations noted above.

10. If you think government’s about fixing the roads and responding to emergencies, not interfering in your personal life
Do we really need to give the government a blank check for interfering in our personal lives? “Quasi-marital” gives judges and lawmakers a constitutional foothold for scrutinizing every part of our lives. Do we really want to give Pierre that much power?

South Dakota is about live and let live. We respect our neighbors, help when asked, and think that our homes are our business—not the government. A “no” vote keeps things the way they are right now.


Anonymous said…
God DAMN that small print is unpleasant for the eyes.

Nice editorial, however.
Anonymous said…
Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve
Anonymous said…
I'm sorry, but this amendment IS NOT about gay marriage. Hordes of homosexuals are NOT moving to SD so they can get married, we live in one of the most predjudice states in the midwest, I doubt we are 'attracting' gay lifestyles here. This amendment is about punishing straight couples who choose not to get married. I'll have to agree with Scott on this one, marriage in none of the government's business. If I ever became a state legislator, that's the first law I would introduce. Call me crazy, but at least it would have people talking about this stuff. I'm so sick of the LIES out of all the campaigns on both sides. What's next "Vote Yes on 6 and Yes on C or your taxes will go up"

Stop spreading deceit. God punishes liars.

Detroit Lewis
Anonymous said…
This amendment will make it illegal for disabled people to have live in aides. I have a live in aide. I have been informed if this law passes I will have to get fire my aide. Which means I will be moving to a nursing home in my thirties. Please vote against this amendment!!!!!
Anonymous said…
if you don't vote for this you will go to hell. god says so. i don't know where amendment c is in the bible, but it's there somewhere. just like if you vote demorcrat, there will be more terrorist attacks. i know, because the republican national commitee says so.

Popular Posts