Empire editorial: A 'no' vote on April 3 supports family values

Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2007

Some people would have us believe family values aren't about taking care of your loved ones.

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But that's exactly what family values are about, which is why Alaskans need to vote against changing the Alaska Constitution in the April 3 special election.

Voters will be asked whether the Alaska Legislature should amend the constitution to bar the state, as well as its cities and boroughs, from providing benefits to same-sex partners of public employees.

Taking care of family includes making sure they have medical care, which is why backing partner benefits - no matter what one's sexual orientation is - fits completely with supporting families.

But the heart of the matter is not family values, whatever one's may be. It's having a legal system that protects all people equally.

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the state must provide benefits for same-sex partners of public employees. Now state leaders are asking voters whether the court's decision should be bypassed by changing the constitution.

This election boils down to whether a legal system should be based on equality under law - the province of government - or morality - the province of private conviction.

Many in early America held that slavery was God-ordained and that marriage between blacks and whites was an abomination.

A legal system founded on equality prevailed. Laws abolished slavery and allowed interracial marriage long before they were accepted by society at large.

Many base their stand on same-sex partner benefits on biblical belief, but conveniently ignore much of the Bible. Leviticus and Deuteronomy tell us eating shrimp and clams is sinful. So is Jell-O, because horse hooves are an ingredient. While some cling to the argument that same-sex relationships are a sin against God, they aren't changing their eating habits or other state laws to conform with the Bible.

Should the Legislature dictate that if a man dies childless, his brother must marry the dead man's wife? (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) Or that a married man may take concubines? (II Samuel 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chronicles 11:21).

If people believe gay relationships are wrong, that's their right. But there's a big difference in personal morals and everyone's laws.

Cheating on a spouse or drinking constantly while neglecting one's children are reprehensible. Yet no one is advocating we deny these people employee-partner benefits because we find their behavior appalling.

Nor does the fact that we allow such people to enjoy state health-care benefits mean we condone infidelity or chronic drinking.

The bottom line is that Alaska law requires all workers to be treated equally.

Voting no next month does not necessarily mean one condones gay partnerships. It means one believes in upholding a system of law and equality that rises above individual beliefs and lifestyle choices.



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