view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

deeds responds

Wow I've only been blogging for a month now and I've already managed to rile up my DINO coward of a state senator. Sweet.

From RaisingKaine Q&A with Criegh Deeds ("D"):
[My question:]Sen. Deeds, why did you speak out against republican attempts to smear the gay community with a bill that contained broad language banning any type of contractual agreement intended to resemble a marriage, then vote for that very bill after it was cleaned up (to prevent over-generalization that would nullify other types of contractual agreements) which contained exactly that language?
In other words, why did you pander to the gay community by highlighting the bigotry of the Republican Party, then vote with them for the referendum?
[Deeds' response:]
In 2004, the battle was waged over two issues. First, the General Assembly considered a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to pass a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining a marriage as between a man and a woman. Because marriage is uniquely a matter of state law, I opposed that resolution. The second issue related to HB 751, which was broadly drafted and, in my view, could have some unintended consequences. I did, in fact, speak out against that bill. I thought it was mean-spirited and unnecessary. The bill passed, and the law has not been set aside by the courts.
The last couple of years have seen an effort to amend Virginia’s Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. I voted for that amendment this year, as I did last year. Narrowly read, the amendment would put in Virginia’s Constitution that which is already the law. Because I was concerned about the wording of the amendment, I voted this year and last year to strip out the last two sentences of the amendment. I was not successful in those efforts. In addition, I have consistently voted to broaden the ballot question so that people know exactly what they are voting on when the amendment comes up for a vote this fall.
Ultimately, this is a question that will have to be decided by the voters. Statements made at one time or another and votes cast must be viewed in the context in which the statements are made and the votes are cast. My views have been consistent on gay marriage.


Shorter Deeds: Heh, see it's not that I voted against gay marriage. I just voted against it.

First, I'll address the 2004 resolution calling for a US Constitutional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. I agree with him, and I never even brought this issue up -- there is no place in the US Constitution because marriage is wholly overseen by the states. Allowing the federal government to insert itself into this debate is unconstitutional (why we would need an Amendment in the first place.) Even Republicans agree. Take this rare moment of clarity from BushCo Cultist Orrin Hatch of Utah (of all places) in the Boston Globe:
"It's a very troubling matter to me. I don't believe in discrimination in any form, and I certainly don't believe in discrimination against gays," said Senator Orrin Hatch, [former] chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Utah Republican said he would prefer to leave the issue to the states -- even if that meant leaving states the option of allowing gay marriages -- as long as opposing states were not required to acknowledge those unions. But Hatch said he was not certain that idea would pass constitutional muster.
Right on -- a Constitutional amendment would have to include a provision allowing dissenting states to opt out because THE ISSUE COMES DOWN TO DISCRIMINATION. Marriage is a states' rights issue, great -- settled.

Now, on to HB751 passed in 2004. Here's the exact language:
A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable.
Well, while it's true that Deeds may have spoken out against this "mean-spirited" bill, it's also true THAT HE VOTED FOR IT. On March 10, 2004 the following votes were cast:
YEAS--Bell, Blevins, Bolling, Chichester, Colgan, Cuccinelli, Deeds, Devolites, Hanger, Hawkins, Houck, Mims, Newman, Norment, Obenshain, O'Brien, Potts, Puckett, Quayle, Rerras, Reynolds, Ruff, Stolle, Stosch, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins, Williams--28.
NAYS--Edwards, Howell, Lambert, Locke, Lucas, Marsh, Puller, Saslaw, Ticer, Whipple--10.
RULE 36--0.
NOT VOTING--Martin, Miller--2.
Right. So now on to the more recent "effort to amend Virginia’s Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman." Here is the text of the proposed amendment contained within the referendum bill (HB101) as presented to the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, upon which Deeds sits:
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.

Now, Deeds deserves some credit here. He fought, albeit unsuccessfully, on the committee to have this text altered to remove the last two sentences because they were unnecessary (though it seems that the entire thing is unnecessary given the already codified § 20-45.3.) But let's just admire his willingness to stand up to those meanie republicans.
Here's the language of the bill that would be codified into Virginia's Constitution if approved in a referendum this November:
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.

Right so it's the exact same thing the House presented to Deeds' Senate committee. His efforts to re-word the amendment didn't work. But his objection to the wording has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of marriage equality -- he objected to it because it was sloppily crafted and would, like in other states, potentitally nullify existing contractual agreements between individuals not interested in obtaining a marriage but acquiring certain rights granted by a marriage. Nothing to do with equal protection or the bigotry this amendment represents.

So then of course the Senate had to vote on this resolution to allow a referendum. Let's see how that played out:
YEAS--Bell, Blevins, Chichester, Colgan, Cuccinelli, Deeds, Devolites Davis, Edwards, Hanger, Hawkins, Herring, Houck, Howell, Lambert, Locke, Lucas, Marsh, Martin, McDougle, Miller, Newman, Norment, Obenshain, O'Brien, Potts, Puckett, Puller, Quayle, Rerras, Reynolds, Ruff, Saslaw, Stolle, Stosch, Ticer, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins, Whipple, Williams--40.
NAYS--0.
RULE 36--0.
NOT VOTING--0.
How nice. Let's let the people decide. Here's what you'll be voting on this November:
"Question: Shall Article I (the Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to state, in part, 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' and to add provisions relating to the legal status of other relationships?"
"That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.
This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships or 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."?
The bits with the strikethrough are what Deeds talked about in his response to my query -- that language is too broad and I applaud his efforts to change the language of the Question to more clearly inform the voter of the amendment's intention.

But HE AGAIN VOTED FOR IT. Now, I understand that if this is to be a states' rights issue, the only way to address it in this way is to put it to a referendum. That's how states work, and that's why it was so important to keep it off the US Constitution -- because the people would have no say. If he really wanted to be the "consistent [voter] on gay marriage" he wouldn't be trying to mislead us by pulling stunts like this and then appearing at gay rallies like Equality VA's held in Richmond on Valentine's Day. Deeds was there. From the Daily Progress, a day after the rally:
Deeds said gay Virginians have many reasons to lobby and are being treated as political footballs.
"I thought folks had gotten everything they could out of the choice question, so they started whacking on sexual orientation, sexual preference," Deeds said of the conservative forces pushing anti-gay legislative agendas, including bills aimed at banning gay-straight alliance groups in high schools.
"We ought to be about a nurturing environment for all our kids in public schools," Deeds said. "Gay people aren't in four or five closets around Virginia. They are everywhere. They ought to visit their legislators."
And you ought to stand up for a group you claim to defend. You ought to do whatever it takes to stop "mean-spirited and unnecessary" amendments to slime their way onto Virginia's Constitution. You ought to support equal protection and defend all your electorate by actions, not just these tired empty cliches.

Sen. Deeds you are no defender of equal protection. Along with the rest of the democrats in the Senate you are instrumental in allowing discrimination and bigotry to become law in Virginia once again.

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