Last week the Senate blocked passage of an amendment banning homosexuals from marrying. It was really a procedural measure. By voting to continue debating the issue, the Senate really was saying ďwe donít want to make up our minds on this just yet.Ē
And so the issue died. Donít worry, itíll come up again in the next year whether John Kerry or President Bush is in the White House.
A few months ago I came down on the issue saying, more or less, that President Bush should not have proposed this ban. I donít mean to sound Kerryesque, but I felt it was mean-spirited.
Still, just because I am not in favor of a ban, doesnít mean that I condone gay marriages. Iím on the fence. Perhaps leaning to the right a little.
Letís take a few hypothetical marriages. Joe and Bill, a gay couple, decide to get married. You pick a state.
Sarah and Phyllis, a gay couple as well, decide to get married.
Still to be worked out between the two homosexual marriages is the possibility of separation, a divorce. Since statistics state that about half of all marriages right now end in divorce, itís fair to assume that either Joe and Bill or Sarah and Phyllis will likely end up splitting up.
Now comes what? If these two couples are allowed to get married, or form some sort of civil union (I actually think thatís a pretty good idea), the courts must now face the issues of property division, alimony, even child support. You know Ė who gets the house, the car, the cat or the kids?
Now, letís take another hypothetical question. Say, Sarah realizes that sheís not gay after all. She meets Jack and falls in love. She wants a divorce from Phyllis so that she can marry Jack.
The big question is who would get Sarahís share of the money? Iím no lawyer, but I would say that under current law Sarah could keep her checking accounts and all the money and property that was legally hers before wedding Phyllis to go marry Jack, who then would, as her husband, get rightful ownership of her money, if she dies.
For tax purposes, Sarah and Phyllis wouldíve just been two single individuals with no rights to each otherís assets.
Now, letís say Joe and Bill live a long life together. Joe dies, so it would seem logical that Bill would inherit any survivorís benefits.
Now, letís introduce Joeís sister, Maggie, who never really liked her brotherís relationship and claims that she is the rightful heir.
Who decides that? (This reminds me of the fight over the estate of slain Tampa police officer Lois Marrero.)
The long-term effects of gay marriage are still to play out.
Prohibiting homosexuals from getting married may be the right way to go, but is it right to deny civil protections to people who are committed to each other?
Jim Harrington is the editor of the Largo Leader, Clearwater Citizen and Safety Harbor Journal.