Thursday, February 16, 2006

Iowa Governor Backing Civil Unions

(Link) It's so nice to hear a politician mention Britney Spears' 51-hour as evidence that same-sex couples ought to have their long-term unions recognized.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
Des Moines Register

Gov. Tom Vilsack, expressing support for civil unions for committed gay couples, drew a pointed contrast Tuesday with the quickie marriage of pop star Britney Spears two years ago.

"I do think that we as a state ought to honor commitments, and we ought to reflect that in policies that we have," Vilsack said. "I personally don't think that it is fair . . . for Britney Spears, who was married for 51 hours to some guy in Las Vegas (for) that guy (to have) more rights than someone who's been committed to another person for 25 years."

Spears' two-day-old marriage to a childhood friend was dissolved shortly after she filed for an annulment.

Vilsack, a Democrat, said marriage should continue to mean a union between a man and a woman, but he sees no need to put Iowa's law banning same-sex marriage in the state Constitution. He acknowledged that the Legislature was unlikely to share his support for granting civil unions.

Senate GOP leaders would like to debate a proposal passed by the House last year that, with voter approval, would amend the Iowa Constitution. Democrats are opposed to such a debate in the Senate, where the party split is 25-25.

The touchy social issue has been elevated by a legal challenge by six gay couples to Iowa's law.

Most states have laws banning same-sex marriage. Connecticut's legislature was the first in the nation to legalize civil unions without court pressure. Following lawsuits, Massachusetts allowed gay marriage, and Vermont has civil unions, which confer on gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples. Examples include the right to sue for the wrongful death of a partner and the ability to make medical decisions for a partner.

Vilsack was asked about the issue as groups marked Valentine's Day at the Statehouse.

Pastors from the Des Moines area were invited to sign agreements committing themselves to a community-wide standard for performing marriages, offering premarital counseling, and helping troubled couples. One of the guiding principles is that "God has established the sanctity and companionship of marriage for a man and woman and intends the bond of marriage to last a lifetime."

Marriage is very important, said the Rev. Keith Ratliff of Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines. "All of us need to do all that we can to lift up marriage, the importance of it, and decrease the number of divorces taking place in this country," he said.

Ratliff was one of the participants at the signing ceremony sponsored by Central Iowa Marriage Matters.

The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, a group supportive of gay marriage, held a news conference on the issue. "All people should be entitled to the right of a civil marriage. It's really not an issue of religion. . . . The real issue for us is that we need to be supportive and strengthen all families," said Connie Ryan Terrell, the group's executive director.