Prop 2: It’s about letting people protect their assets

I had the pleasure of meeting Tammi Wallace of the Houston Equal Rights Alliance at an anti-Prop 2 meetup a couple of weeks ago. She gave what I thought was an excellent and broadly appealing talk about why Proposition 2 is so wrongheaded, so I asked her to write it all down and let me publish it for my audience. Here it is:

All Texans including gays and lesbians deserve the right to protect their relationship, assets, and families.

I talked to a voter in Bellaire last year while exit polling. I asked her what she thought of a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and her thoughts on give gay and lesbian couples the right to civil marriage. Her response was that her husband was an attorney and he had indicated that gay and lesbian couples can create legal documents that would allow for the same protections as civil marriage. I asked her she felt it was fair that heterosexual couples can get a marriage license for $41.00 in Harris County and gay and lesbian couples have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars in legal fees. She thought about this for a moment and responded that this did not seem fair. I proceeded to educate her as well on the aspects of legal contracts in that they can be contested by family as well as they do not necessarily have to be honored in other states. At that moment, you could see the light bulb going off.

I posed another scenario to her. We know that $41.00 versus $1,000+ dollars is clearly unfair. What about gay and lesbian couples that cannot afford $1,000+ dollars to simply protect their relationships? Gay and lesbian couples that struggle to keep the lights on, put food on the table, buy school supplies and clothes, pay medical bills, etc., are penalized twice. Once because they are gay or lesbian and also because of their financial situation. Again, we are talking about protections that can be granted to heterosexual couples for $41.00.

A couple of other examples (there are many, many more) we’ve shared with voters over the past year and a half in an effort to educate people on the harmful impacts on this legislation:

Constitutional Amendment #2 penalizes and hurts real Texas families. Gay and lesbian couples will continue to have and support children regardless of whether Constitutional Amendment #2 passes. The difference is that children with gay and lesbian parents will not have the same rights and protections that children with heterosexual parents enjoy. Don’t these children deserve the same rights and protections as children with heterosexual parents? Voting for Constitutional Amendment #2 absolutely hurts Texas children!

I work all my life and contribute to the social security system. Shouldn’t I be able to designate my beneficiary? I cannot designate my partner of 9+ years to receive my social security benefits in the event of my death.

Right after right….the ability to make medical decisions for your partner, burial rights, right to inherit property, health insurance, etc….so many rights and responsibilities as well! Yet, I don’t have access to these simply because of the person I love.

Constitutional Amendment #2 amends the state Constitution for no other reason than discrimination. Marrying a person of the same sex was not allowed by Texas law prior to the start of the 2005 legislative session. Voters need to ask their legislators why they chose to spend time and money on this amendment when school finance, healthcare and other pressing issues continue to be ignored at the expense of ALL Texans.

ALL Texans deserve full and equal rights. Regardless of personal opinion, denying people fundamental rights and responsibilities to protect their relationships, assets, etc., is wrong.

Tammi provided a document (Word doc) which enumerates many of the rights that would be denied not just to gay and lesbian couples but potentially to all unmarried couples who wish to protect them through contracts. If you know someone who plans to vote for Prop 2 because they think they’re standing up for traditional marriage, I urge you to show this to them and to ask if that’s what they really want to do.

I’m pleased to note that more newspapers are joining the anti-Prop 2 drumbeat: both the Statesman and the Victoria Advocate clearly understand what’s at stake. I just hope their readers do, too. Links via BOR.

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2 Responses to Prop 2: It’s about letting people protect their assets

  1. blurker gone bad says:

    Well said, Tammi.

    Thanks for allowing Tammi’s words to reach a wider audience, Chuck.

  2. William Hughes says:

    The thing Tammi doesn’t mention is that it can cost $1,000 plus for the legal documents (not to mention attorney and court fees) for each one of the rights that a married couple gets for the cost of a marriage license.

    NYC has domestic partnership laws that cover some of these rights, however, it doesn’t address all of the things that marriage provides. Since most “traditional” marriages in the US end in divorce and most churches don’t allow second marriages, aren’t many “traditional” marriages untraditional.

    If a couple is truly committed to each other and both of them are mentally sound adults, then I don’t see what the problem is with them being married. Maybe it’s because I live in NYC instead of middle America, but I this is one area where this conservative Democrat becomes liberal.

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