To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Virginia Gay Marriage Ban Ballot Question

Tomorrow Virginians will be asked whether they want to approve a state constitutional amendment that reads:

That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.
As I step back and consider this ballot question, these thoughts emerge:

1. Why does the government recognize any relationships as privileged over others? Marriage should be a personal or religious rite and not state-sanctioned.

2. Will this amendment override contract law, which is the backbone of the US Constitution? We are, or should be, free to enter into any contracts that we desire and the basic function of the state is to enforce those contracts, not void them. If an unmarried couple, or any two beings, enter willingly into a contract that, say, grants inheritence rights, will Virginia seek to void the contract because it bestows the benefits or "qualities" of marriage?

3. Every divisive US issue in some way comes down to tax law. Almost all of the benefits that gays seek in gaining marriage rights involve the IRS code. Abolish the IRS code, and its picking of winners and losers, and gay marriage is largely a moot point that no one would care to pursue.

4. Should issues involving civil rights ever be left to a ballot question or popular vote? Founding Father and Virginian George Mason was very concerned about the tyranny of the majority.

5. Is it a good idea, when the state is divided nearly 50-50 on the issue, to enshrine that day's winning margin into the state constitution?

6. Should a constitution ever be used to restrict rights, rather than enshrine them and protect us from the state? Cato chimes in on that point here and takes a big stand against the amendment. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate has a slam here, and I am loving Slate's recently becoming a bastion of libertarian thought on the web.