Right Question

Asking the right question is usually more productive than trying to prove the right answer.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Paternalism Run Amok

Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich (R) has vetoed legislation that would have granted some rights (such as hospital visitation and decision making) to same-sex couples who registered as life partners.

Bizarrely, he chose not to veto a law adding sexual orientation to the list of categories protected under Maryland's hate crimes law - a veto many gay conservatives would have understood and supported.

But what's particularly crazy about the veto was his reasoning:
In his veto message, Ehrlich said he is "sympathetic to the needs of mutually dependent couples and [wants] to support compassionate efforts to expedite health-related decisions for Marylanders in need."
He said, however, that the bill's requirement that couples register as life partners "will open the door to undermine the sanctity of traditional marriage."

This gets it spectacularly wrong. It sounds as though he'd prefer to see these rights granted to couples without requiring the couple to make any sort of a formal commitment to one another.

We've come a long way - the emotional threat is no longer the existence of gay people itself, now the threat is the suggestion that gay people might be capable of being held to the same standards as straight folks. It would seem, the Governor has no problem with gay people, so long as they stay in their place - two gay men in chaps hooking up in a bar are deserving of protection; two gay men in tuxedoes making a life-long commitment to care for one another feel threatening.

It is an insane society that tells its members that they are deserving of respect only so long as they do not behave like responsible adults.


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