"domestic partnerships"

Bills Undermining Marriage On Senate Floor This Week!

Tomorrow at noon, the full Senate is scheduled to take up two bills on the floor that would undermine marriage in Virginia and, we believe, may violate Virginia's Marriage Amendment.

Please contact your senator now and urge him or her to vote NO on SB 1121 and SB 1122. To call his or her capitol office, click here. To e-mail him or her, click here.

SB 1121, patroned by Senators Donald McEachin (D-9, Richmond) and Mark Herring (D-33, Leesburg), would permit local governments to extend health and life insurance to "any other person" as agreed to by the insurer and the local government. Included in "any other person" would be domestic partnerships between non-married hetero- and homosexual couples. In essence, this bill creates domestic partner benefits for local government employees.

A second bill, SB 1122, also patroned by Senator McEachin, would allow the state to expand benefits in state government to cover domestic partners. The fiscal impact statement done by the state admits this saying the bill . . .

could create an increase in costs paid by state agencies, state employees, and retired state employees under the state employee health insurance plan. The provisions of this bill may allow coverage to be offered to extended family members and other non-related individuals not currently covered.

The cost to the state (and consequently the taxpayer) to these bills may not be determinable by the state, but we can guarantee that the creation of this new entitlement will be extraordinarily costly for you and your family. At a time when the state can't even pay its full commitment to Virginia Retirement System and is struggling to make ends meet, the Virginia Senate is about to pass legislation that will bury the state in insurance costs.

While the legislation is "permissive," and doesn’t require that benefits be offered, this legislation is obviously the next step in the progression toward domestic partner benefits in Virginia. The long-term consequence of this legislative track goes beyond finances to a threat to religious liberty. Eventually, private employers will be forced to provide these benefits against their will in order to be eligible for government contracts. We have seen this progression elsewhere and many other states are eliminating faith-based providers from contracting with them for this reason.

According to the state constitution:

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.

Insurance long has been recognized as a benefit of marriage in our Commonwealth. This legislation would create a "class of persons" and assign them a benefit of marriage.

California Values

Yesterday, homosexual activists and ultra liberal politicians in California finally got what they could never get through California's legislature or even its generous initiative and referendum system: the legalization of homosexual marriage.  How did they get it? In a state of 37 million people, four people made law for everyone else when the California Supreme Court ruled by a 4-3 vote that the state's Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. The law passed overwhelmingly by the voters in a 2000 referendum (Proposition 22 got 61 percent of the vote). Now four people have undone that. The dissenting justices wrote that to strike down the law was out of the court's jurisdiction and/or a violation of the separation of powers. No matter. Take what you want anyway you can get it. Who cares if the people and their elected representatives have no say?

The majority opinion, which reads more like an Equality Virginia press release than a legal document, argued that there is a fundamental right to "form a family relationship" regardless of one's "sexual orientation." In fact, they do not appear to put any parameters on what exactly a "family relationship" is, perhaps leaving that open to any of an assortment of behaviors. Although 26 states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, the majority opinion said there is no "compelling state interest" that justifies preventing same-sex couples from marrying. So 26 states are wrong and these four judges are right. Sure.

The court argued that there is no difference between the "domestic partnerships" that the California legislature created, which grant all the rights and benefits of marriage, and marriage itself. The California Court actually has it right here. This is exactly what we argued in 2006 during Virginia's Marriage Amendment campaign — that so-called "domestic partnerships" or "civil unions" had to be covered by the Marriage Amendment because they are the same thing! (See The Richmond Times-Dispatch article about our reaction here.)

The California Supreme Court proved our point on this as well as on activist judges striking down statutes — the precise reason the Virginia M.A. was needed — to sustain our statutory laws. (See this interesting blog post from the Houston Chronicle.) One wonders where the homosexual activists in Virginia will find any legs for their arguments now (not that they had any to begin with).

Ultimately, the court conjured that it is unconstitutional for the state to deny the use of the word "marriage" to same-sex couples since they already enjoy all the rights and benefits of marriage through so-called "domestic partnerships." Such discrimination, the court said, could encourage same-sex couples to be treated as "second-class citizens" and deny them the "dignity" of the more "familiar and highly favored designation of marriage." The ruling now lays the foundation for same-sex marriage advocates to redefine marriage state-by-state, while pro-marriage and pro-family Californians haven't given up (click here). 

This decision to deny the right of children to have both a mother and a father is appalling.  It is not surprising, however, that the court found no difference between so-called "domestic partnerships" allowed by California and marriage itself. Regardless of what they are called — domestic partnerships, civil unions, or some other arrangement — any union that is given the rights and benefits of marriage is marriage, and undermines that institution. By determining that there is no difference between a so-called "domestic partnership" and marriage, the California Supreme Court validated what supporters of Virginia's marriage amendment said all along — we must have a Constitutional amendment that defines marriage and protects Virginia from another state's version of marriage — whatever they decide to call it.

In 2006, Virginians voted overwhelmingly to protect the definition of marriage, anticipating days such as this. Like California, our laws protecting marriage were at the mercy of the courts until Virginians were given the opportunity to amend the state Constitution to define marriage. Because of that vote, a handful of activist judges cannot toss aside thousands of years of human history and the evidence of social science that marriage between one man and one woman is best for society, families and children.

Regardless of the insanity caused by only four California judges, the law in Virginia is perfectly clear — we recognize that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and that children deserve both a mom and a dad. Because of that, our children can rest easier.