Friday, September 03, 2004

Not in My Cemetery!

An Arkansas couple, together for 53 years, was separated when one of them died last summer. Bill Bradford, a veteran and the one left behind was not that interested in gay couples having the right to marry. He didn't realize that the Arkansas Marriage Amendment would affect people like him anyway.

Turns out the AMA is worded in such a way that no unmarried couple can receive any of the rights conferred on married ones. Bill didn't think that was such a big deal, until he was denied the right to be buried in the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery next to his partner of 53 years and fellow veteran, Herbert .

So evidently, the religious right can screw us in this life AND after we die. Now that's efficient planning! But Chris Stewart, executive Director of the AMA, learned from the pros. A proud graduate of Pat Robertson's Regent University, he is bound and determined that civil marriage rights be limited to the ones who can manage them best. And evidently 53 years of a committed loving relationship and service to the armed forces doesn't qualify you.

Happily, Chris and the AMA folks have addressed one question I have always had: How does same-sex marriage undermine the marriage of heterosexuals and families? In the FAQs section of the Arkansas Marriage Amendment website:

"3. How can the marriage of homosexuals undermine the marriage of heterosexuals and families?

Same-sex marriage is not likely to seriously undermine existing heterosexual marriages. Same-sex marriage does devalue the importance and significance of marriage so that, over time, fewer and fewer people decide to get married. Studies have shown that couples who are not married are 2 – 3 times more likely to breakup than married couples. This does not bode well for children who may be born out of wedlock or grow up with the disadvantages of living in a single-parent households."

And my next question would be "If you 'know' that unmarried couples are more likely to dissolve their relationship, why would you contribute to destabilizing families by not allowing folks who want to marry to do so. Wouldn't marriage rights strengthen the fabric of society you say you care so much about?" And I'd like to see the reference for those "studies" by the way. I tend to question the credibility of people (especially attorneys) who confidently refer to studies with a wave of their hand and then cite no sources. But I have to keep reminding myself that Stewart attended the Pat Robertson school of ethics evasion.

While we are on the subject of faulty arguments, check this one out. From the same FAQ section:

"5. Does the Arkansas Marriage Amendment prohibit civil unions, domestic partnerships and other unions that are similar to marriage?

Yes. Civil unions are counterfeit marriages that undermine the value of real marriages the same way counterfeit money undermines the value of real money. This amendment would prevent the state from conferring on couples all the rights and benefits of marriage and calling it civil unions, domestic partnerships or other names. The amendment prevents the recognition of unions that are substantially similar to marriage. "

If a counterfeiter starts printing fake 20.00 bills, the value of money is indeed diluted. However, the same can be said when the government starts printing too many genuine 20.00 bills (I must credit my partner, John, with this observation). It is not the bill that is valuable, but its relationship to what it symbolizes. The AMA's "counterfeit" argument is one of those "say it wrong, say it often" kind of statements I've heard other far right-wing groups use. It seems to me that Bill and Herbert's relationship was just more gold that could have been added to the treasury, not a fake bill. I'm not sure what Britney Spears' spontaneous marriage (and subsequent annulment) in Vegas a few months back contributes--maybe just another 20.00 bill?


Post a Comment

<< Home