Saturday, February 05, 2005

County Rights

An interesting idea is emerging in New York City. According to Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times, a state judge in Manhattan has ruled that the 1909 laws governing marriage are unconstitutional and that same-sex couples should be granted marriage rights. The issue is far from settled. From the article:

"One city official said yesterday that the decision on whether to appeal yesterday's ruling might depend in part on whether city lawyers concluded that they were professionally bound to challenge a decision that set a different standard for New York City than for other counties.

At first glance such a domestic dual-platform situation may seem like an impossibility. However, I'm from Arkansas where we have dry and wet counties. For those of you who do not know, in dry counties you cannot buy packaged liquor from stores (you are lucky if you can buy a glass of wine at a restaurant).

My point is, if it would be more winnable, could we not make this a county issue instead of a state issue? This would allow a city with a majority of voters who support equal marriage rights to get what they need, while the places that do not support those rights can keep things the way they are. The bad news is that my country friends who live in Noblesville, Greenwood and other rural towns would likely be stuck in places that would not support their right to protect their families. How could we work them into this plan?

Ultimately I think such a county by county option would be good for the state. In states that recently have passed restrictive marriage laws, about 20 to 30 percent of people have voted not to write descrimination into their state's constitution. Where do you think these folks live? Assuming that Indianapolis would be more likely to support family protection (and I could easily be wrong about that), more businesses would be attracted to relocating here since this environment would be attractive to an entire pool of talented employees. In the meantime, Kokomo and Franklin can just keep right on selling their souls to Walmart.

Selfishly speaking it would create more relocation options for us. I kind of hate it that I can't live in Little Rock, Atlanta, or some other nice cities because their state's have such bigoted laws. And John and I refuse to spend money in such places until the laws are changed again, which they inevitably will be decades from now. But I would love to embrace places that embrace us. A county by county vote on the matter might make that a possibilitly.


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