Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Georgia and gay marriage

The Georgia’s "House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, ensuring the question would be put before voters on the November ballot.

The 122-52 vote came after weeks of tension in the Legislature. In its first consideration of the ban, most of the Democratic-controlled House voted in favor of the measure, but it fell three votes short of the two-thirds required for passage.







On Wednesday, four Democratic members of the Legislature’s Black Caucus provided the additional votes needed to pass the amendment, putting their conservative social beliefs ahead of party loyalty."

As Ken Masugi notes, it is important to note "that four black Democrats helped form the two-thirds majority needed to put the measure on the ballot. This could be the first sign of a questioning of the dubious established position that ’gay rights’ is a legitimate extension of traditional civil rights."

Discussions - 2 Comments

Peter, Dubious position? I don’t know your personal situation, obviously, but imagine showing up at a hospital where your life partner of 10 years is in intensive care after a heart attack and you are denied visitation because you’re not next of kin. Meanwhile, the so-called next of kin couldn’t care less. Civil rights? I think so. Alex Kirby

With due respect, this has always struck me as a poignant but none-too-effective argument in favor of gay marriage. First of all, I must say that the privilege of visiting someone at the hospital has never, to my knowledge, been characterized as a civil right. Second, this is increasingly a red herring, as hospitals are increasingly dropping or modifying their next of kin policies. Third, even in the situations where they have not modified the policies, individuals can often contract around the policy by specifying an individual other than a spouse as a decisionmaker with visitation privileges. If you can sign a marriage contract, you can sign an advanced directive permitting visitation. And finally, why is this situation so totally unique to gay marriage? What about the unmarried couple who has lived together for the past 20 years? Or the dear friend, whether of same or different sex, who has helped care for the individual prior to their hospitalization? The bottom line is that there are many people other than next of kin who we might want to be able to visit people in the hospital. It doesn’t take reconstructing marriage to accomodate an individuals visitation desires. There may be strong arguments in favor of gay marriage, but hospital visitation as a civil right is not it.

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