Bans on Gay Marriage are a Legal, Moral Contradiction

BONNIE SCHINDLER
El Vaquero Editor in Chief

In the name of humanity, we as humans should look at the recent same-sex marriages in San Francisco and demand that our cities follow suit.
Two weeks ago, more than 2,800 gay and lesbian couples have been officially united in the San Francisco City Hall. Since that time the world has not experienced an apocalypse.

Some prejudiced opponents of gay marriage believe that god will certainly have his/her way with the world if two people, in love, make the decision to spend the rest of their lives with each other.
Instead, couples all over the city, some of which came from other states and countries to be married, are toasting champagne and taking long walks on the beach together.

Regardless of the recent victories in the Superior Court, gay marriage is still controversial and is still illegal in the state of California. There are apparently many people who would like to keep it that way.
It is appalling and shameful that we are refusing the rights of people in this country. As U.S. citizens and California state residents every person has the right to be treated equally. In fact, in the U.S. constitution it is written that all people residing in this great state should have equal protection. In contrast, the California Family Code 308.5 recognizes marriage as something that is only between a man and a woman.

This contradiction within the state is inexcusable. Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, who has only been in office since Jan. 8, made a huge step towards equality when he demanded that the city clerk remove the “man” and “woman” titles from marriage licenses and allow all couples to marry.

In response to both his critics and supporters, he said that the ban on gay marriage “violates the equal-protection and due-process clause of California’s Constitution.”

As a result, the city of San Francisco filed a lawsuit against the state of California on Feb. 19 challenging the contradiction of the law. There are many laws within the state of California that contradict the gay marriage ban.

First off, the state allows anyone who is qualified, regardless of sexual preference, to adopt a child. Therefore gay people can legally adopt and raise a child, but they cannot join in marriage? The state has also instituted the Domestic Partner Law A.B. 25. This law, which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2002, allows the partner of a parent (in a same-sex relationship) to legally adopt the children of the parent, thus becoming a stepparent to the children.

If a couple should decide to adopt children and give them a last name, they should all be able to have the same identity, meaning the same last name. While the question of marriage among same-sex couples is a major issue, divorce is as well.

Gay and lesbian couples have been living together for years. Like any heterosexual relationship, a big step in the lives of two lovers is the commitment to move in together and begin sharing expenses.

When (and if) the time comes to split-up, which can happen to anyone, someone is likely to get screwed. This can happen because the relationship was not legally documented, thus it becomes hard for the parties to split their shared belongings. Take for example Sheila Seclearr who wrote a letter on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Web site (www.hrc.org).

Seclearr wrote that she and her partner had lived together in a home they purchased together 10 years prior to her letter. After many years of fighting, her 16-year-old son could not take his mother and her partner’s arguing anymore and urged his mother to find a place that both he and his mother could move into.

They found an apartment and began negotiating with her ex for half of the house and assets. Due to hard feelings from her former partner, Seclearr ended up with less than half and she finally gave up.
If she had been legally married, this would be solved with a trip to divorce court.

Seclearr said, “some of my straight friends would sympathize that it was just like going through a divorce.” She added, “to which I replied, ‘no, it is not; it would be a relief if I could get a divorce.’ ”

In another contradiction between the state and the ban, the California Government Codes 22871, 22871.3 allowed Seclearr’s relationship to function normally in her work place.

The law entitles state employees to enroll their same-sex partner onto their health plan, thus receiving benefits in the same fashion as straight couples. The state also specifies that “any employer or contracting agency may, at its option, offer health benefits to domestic partners.”

There seems to be many factors that mirror that of a heterosexual couple’s rights in the state.

Yet those in power, such as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and President George Bush, are opposed to gay marriage, putting their religious beliefs (or whatever else it may be) first and people’s rights last.
If there was a marriage ban between people from two separate nations or two different races, the majority of people would scream discrimination in a heartbeat and rally in the streets.

Why is this type of prejudice any different? It is not and we need to come together and allow equality to prevail and the champagne to flow.