Posted by: Jim | February 4, 2004

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Mass Appeal

From Yahoo! News: The Massachusetts court said any civil unions bill that falls short of marriage would establish an “unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.”

Kudos to Massachusetts for being reasonable and level-headed.

This decision is excellent evidence for why we live in such a great country. Our judges are appointed and do not require any voter support for the duration of their career. This makes them ostensibly immune to the shrill nonsense spouted by homophobes (or non-homophobes who are trying to curry favor with homophobes). It doesn’t protect gays from homophobia in states where the judges are homophobic, but at least it allows for states to improve over time. Massachusetts is ahead of the pack here.

Picture this: a member of a gay couple whose state will not allowed them to marry is in a car accident and is in a coma and on life support. The infirmed person’s family rushes in and “takes over” regarding all medical decisions. His gay lover of 20 years sits helplessly by in the hospital and has absolutely no say in the matter. Not fair.

As a reforming Libertarian, I should explain why the state needs to recognize marriage at all. Even though marriage is mostly a spiritual (and sometimes religious) instutition, there are good reasons why a couple needs the state to recognize their commitment, rather than some other institution. You need the state to formally recognize a union–at a couple’s behest–in order to prevent any yahoo who is living with someone else to claim marriage under some weird non-recognizable institution and thereby take responsibility (over medical decisions, non-will deaths, child custody issues) when there really isn’t an intended context for it. For those who live together and want to grant legal powers to their significant others, there are means to do this short of actually marrying. Namely, you can file separate legal powers of attorney regarding each of these elements. But marriage is a catch-all and everyone should be allowed to use this state-provided convenience.

In spite of my constant ranting, I am an optimist. I do think that things in America are getting slowly better. For every battle lost it seems that one and a half battles are won.

This is one of the wins. [Pops a champagne cork.]

Now back to my day. I’m having a huge party on Saturday and I need to clean my damn house.

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