Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Amendment 2 and the Rotarian 4 way test

For years my Dad tried to get me to join the Rotary Club. Instead he recruited my husband, Alfredo. Alfredo asked me to write this for the Rotary Club of Coral Gables.

Does Florida’s Amendment 2 stand up to Rotary’s Four-Way Test?

In November of this year Floridians will be asked to vote to amend the state’s constitution to define the meaning of marriage. The ballot initiative, known as Amendment 2 on its face seems quite simple and reasonable:

This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.

So let’s see if this amendment stands up to the Rotary 4-Way test.

Is it the truth?
The truth is that in Florida marriage is already defined as between a man and a woman. It is the second part of this proposed amendment that has many concerned. It calls into question the protections offered non-married partners have acquired in the last decade. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, City of Gainesville, Miami Beach, and other municipalities offer limited protections for domestic partners such as visitation rights in hospitals and official recognition for employers which offer benefits to non-married partners.

Is it fair to all concerned?
Amendment 2 is unfair to the many couples in Florida who choose to live together but for a myriad of reasons can’t or don’t want to marry. Whether straight or gay, amendment 2 is about removing legal protections, denying health insurance from families and denying hospital visitation.

Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Amendment 2 is not about goodwill, it is about discrimination pure and simple. It seeks to remove protections from unmarried couples. In 27 states where similar amendments have passed, proponents quickly sued to take away health insurance, domestic partnerships and other benefits from unmarried couples. How can an amendment designed to prohibit one group of people from getting health insurance, visiting a loved one in a hospital, or getting some kind of limited legal recognition show the goodwill?

Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
This is an initiative to take away benefits: insurance, legal protections and societal recognition. Who benefits when people are denied health insurance? Who benefits when people cannot properly care for loved ones? How does Florida benefit when discrimination is enshrined in the state’s constitution.