Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Smart move towards equal families -- in New York

As I've noted here before, I'm personally opposed to gay marriage but have never had an issue with same sex couples living together at common law. But I also think that where one jurisdiction has recognized the practice, others should recognize that validity.

Claiming that "the people" have voted against gay marriage in one state doesn't invalidate actions that have taken place elsewhere; doing so is not only unfair but in the States it violates the "full faith and credit" clause of Article IV -- which essentially means a marriage in one state is a marriage in all of them.

More than a year ago, for instance, a court in Virginia enforced a child custody arrangement from Vermont where a civil union between two women broke down. One of the partners who lost custody of a child had kidnapped the child and went to a state where gay marriages are banned (as per referendum) but the court said the state had to enforce Vermont's custody order regardless.

Now, a New York appeals court has ordered a community college in Monroe County -- which includes Rochester -- to provide fringe benefits to a lesbian couple who got married in Canada. Their reasoning is that the state has always recognized marriages performed in other jurisdictions and that until it passes a law that declines such recognition for such unions it has to recognize what is.

For me, that's the correct decision as was the prior decision in Virginia. Many businesses and agencies have already extended benefits voluntarily, but as a matter of law it should be compulsory. While I still think a kid is better off with both a father and mother, there is simply no proof that a kid is going to turn homosexual because one or both of his or her parents are. Besides, the families already exist de facto, they should get recognition de jure. After all, can only really believe there is less love in a family where the heads have an alternate lifestyle?

As for Canada -- the issue is settled. It's time to move on. We have bigger problems. The lack of affordable day care and tax policies which punish families rather than rewarding them is something of concern to both straight and gay couples.

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