What is it about my state? Why does our legislature go out of its way, not just to merely be conservative but to craft laws that actively find ways to stick it to those it doesn’t like? Lately I’ve been feeling like the Christian Taliban has taken over my state government. We had Operation Iraqi Freedom. When do the Marines come in to liberate the citizens of Virginia? What a sad irony: the state that set the standard for freedom in America and gave innovative statesmen like Thomas Jefferson and George Mason now gleefully enacts more and more laws that restrict social and economic freedoms for those it doesn’t like.
The latest outrage totally escaped me until I read about it yesterday. Yes, I knew that our legislature had passed yet another defense of marriage act law. But I thought it was symbolic because Virginia already has many statutes on the book that outlawed gay marriage. Another one seemed like it hardly could make things worse. But I was wrong.
How did Virginia go the extra mile to stick it to gays? On April 21st the Virginia legislature banned all contracts between partners in homosexual marriage-like relationships. Here it is, H.R. 751, in its entirety: one short paragraph:
A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable.
Think about what this means. This means that a gay person who has lived his life with his spouse cannot legally pass on any of his or her assets to his or her partner. It means a gay’s life partner cannot have Power of Attorney privileges. He or she cannot be a beneficiary of their partner’s will. At the end of life a gay’s life partner cannot decide their partner’s end of life care.
This is truly bizarre. In Virginia as a married man I can name my sister as my beneficiary, give power of attorney over to my business partner and write a will that leaves my wife with nothing but my debts. And it’s all perfectly legal if a bit despicable. But if I happened to be gay and have a life partner then under Virginia law I can’t leave him a penny in my will. He could have spent decades loving me and nurturing me. Even though I may have millions of dollars of my own assets I am prohibited from giving even a penny of it to my life partner.
But it appears to be more than that. What sort of other financial things do married people usually do together? Buying property is one. This statute appears to prohibit two gay people from buying shared housing together. Presumably joint bank accounts are not allowed either. Any loans for which both parties are responsible appear to unlawful. Potentially a gay person could adopt a child but certainly not both a gay person and his spouse.
Even more discouraging is that the bill was passed with veto proof majorities. This bill is now the law of the State of Virginia, effective July 1st. This means it will be almost impossible to overturn.
Who was responsible for this monstrosity? Sadly, it was not some down state representative representing Jerry Falwell’s oxymoric Liberty University. No, it was Robert G. Marshall, who represents the nearby city of Manassas. This is the same guy who pushed a law barring access to contraceptives at Virginia colleges and universities.
There are a number of groups here in Virginia who are working to change this law. But make no mistake. We live in a state that even though the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the sodomy laws refuses to take them off its books. Changing this law will be a tough, uphill fight. One way is through a boycott of Virginia businesses. This group for example is maintaining a Virginia business boycott list and only those businesses that certify they are pro-tolerance will be exempted. (Of course it will be hard to call attention to the boycott, so it depends on word of mouth. So trackback this blog entry and forward it to all your progressive friends!) The group is also working on a counterpoint to the Yes Virginia campaign. That effort is trying to convince businesses is other states to relocate to Virginia. But if your business is progressive enough to realize that sexual orientation has no bearing on competency in the workplace you should locate your business elsewhere. Virginia is actively making it more difficult for your business to attract and maintain a quality workforce through blatantly discriminatory laws against homosexuals.
For 35 years Virginia has claimed it was the state for lovers. What a joke. Well, it’s certainly not the state for homosexual lovers. Fornication is unlawful so it’s certainly not the state for unmarried lovers. Adultery is also illegal so it’s not the state for hanky panky. It’s certainly not the state for unmarried couples of the opposite sex who don’t want to get married. Shared cohabitation between unrelated people of the opposite sex is against the law. And until the Supreme Court abolished sodomy laws (including Virginia’s) it wasn’t the state for committed married couples who liked to engage in oral or anal sex. I guess there needs to be an asterisk next to the state slogan: applies to married, heterosexual couples who copulate using the missionary position only.
To all those who are homosexual, bisexual or anyone with any sense of decency and fairness: I am sorry we have a state run by anal retentive knee jerk conservative wackos. I am sorry my state legislature consists of a veto proof majority of twits who have apparently zero sense of compassion or empathy in their tiny little hearts. The Grinch’s heart was two sizes too small. I’m not sure you could find the heart of Rep. Robert G. Marshall. Like Dick Cheney, he must have ice water running through his veins.