Basic rights for everyone
Dear Editor:There are two measures on the ballet this year that have serious consequence for gays and lesbians, and there seems to be some confusion or even lack of awareness in the general public regarding both measures.Amendment 43, if passed, will mandate that the definition of marriage may not apply toward same sex couples. The second measure, however, is not gay “marriage” legislation. It is called Referendum I, and it confers legal rights and responsibilities toward same sex couples, if a civil union is declared. It is important that the straight community understands how these civil rights effect us all, not only gays.For instance, Referendum I will protect the children of gay couples from becoming orphaned in the case that the one legal parent were to die (current law dictates only one partner may be the legal parent). Referendum I also places the financial responsibility on gay spouses to care for their partner or manage their partner’s funeral and debts in the case that one of them falls seriously ill or dies. This prevents either one from becoming wards of the state, as has happened in the past, most commonly with AIDS victims. The list goes on: insurance coverage, hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, the right to make emergency health care decisions for a partner – all civil rights which the straight world takes for granted!I seriously hope that even if the community at large still has a problem with gay marriage, we all at least can understand the bigotry that would be apparent if these civil rights are voted off-limits to gay couples. In addition, I want to make clear that both measures are meant to co-exist in the event that they both pass and gay marriage remains illegal.Douglas ScanlanAspen
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