Friday, April 28, 2006

Seekins: putting the diss in discrimination.

First off, Ralph Seekins, the senator for my neck of the woods (the epicenter of cabin-dwellingness, the Goldstream Valley) managed to surprise even this very jaded Alaskan voter.

In the hearing on SJR 20, he managed to compare same-sex partnerships to marrying your first cousin. That's right, folks, Mr. Seekins reasoned that if states could prohibit certain types of marriages, i.e., the incestuous ones, that wasn't all that much different from prohibiting same-sex ones.

That's Ralph, singlehandedly putting the Texas into Alaskan politics.

Testimony this morning on SJR20, which was a thinly disguised anti-gay piece of legislation masquerading as one of those 'defense of marriage' things, WAS OVERWHELMINGLY AGAINST it. As most Alaskans will know, in 1998, voters approved one of those DOM amendments to our constitution by ballot initiative. So marriage was officially defined as being between a man and woman.

The carrot offered by those who oppose same sex marriage, but claim not to have anything against homosexuals, really, was that civil or domestic partnerships could give them the same benefits without freaking out the hardcore anti-gay folks with the use of the word "marriage." Well, SJR20 shows what happens when you buy that line of reasoning - once you define marriage as being between a man and woman, you then take steps to eliminate the "benefits of marriage" from going to unmarried heteros and civil/domestic partnership-seeking gays. As demonstrated below:

01 Proposing an amendment to the section of the Constitution of the State of Alaska
02 relating to marriage.
04 * Section 1. Article I, sec. 25, Constitution of the State of Alaska, is amended to read:
05 Section 25. Marriage and related limitations. To be valid or recognized in
06 this State, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman. No other
07 union is similarly situated to a marriage between a man and a woman and,
08 therefore, a marriage between a man and a woman is the only union that shall be
09 valid or recognized in this State and to which the rights, benefits, obligations,
10 qualities, or effects of marriage shall be extended or assigned.
11 * Sec. 2. The amendment proposed by this resolution shall be placed before the voters of the
12 state at the next general election in conformity with art. XIII, sec. 1, Constitution of the State
13 of Alaska, and the election laws of the state.

Testimony from Alaskan citizens ran completely against SJR 20 and its amended version, which was supposedly available somewhere.

The only proponents of SJR20 appeared to be on the Senate Finance Committee. Attorney Kevin Clarkson tried out that
old, tired right-wing saw, the dread judicial activism. Clarkson spun it this way: The Alaska Supreme Court had engaged in judicial activism when it ruled the State of Alaska could not deny benefits to the partners of same sex couples. SJR20, he claimed, would merely let Alaska's voters decide whether to deny such benefits all democratic-like.

Okay, let me get this straight. :) It will be a good thing if we allow the majority to amend the state constitution to discriminate against a minority?

Sen. Donny Olson, of Nome, I love you. (But not in that way.) Olson asked why we were talking about marriage at all? Why weren't we viewing this an employment benefit?

Unfortunately, this thing passed in comittee, despite not a single person testifying for it!
Voting yes: Senators Wilken, Green and Dyson.
Voting no: Senators Bunde, Senators Hoffman
No recommendation: Senators Olson, Stedman. (Why Donny, why?)


Mary said...

One can only hope that the majority of the Legislature will see this for the bullshit that it is. But then again, they have a habit of doing nothing for a few months, then rushing all sorts of nasty shit through in the last few weeks.

CabinDweller said...

We can only hope that they are so busy with oil taxation and the gas line that it might just drop off the table.

What sucks is that the 24 hour rule is now in effect - they only have to give that much public notice.