It is incredible that we need to revisit the issue of benefits for same-sex couples after the overwhelming passage of the marriage amendment to the Alaska Constitution in 1998, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It seemed logical that if marriage was clearly defined in the constitution then all the benefits of marriage would be limited to those who meet the requirements of marriage. Not so, according to the Alaska Supreme Court.
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Whether or not to limit benefits to the married is a public policy matter. Our Supreme Court should have the good judgment to recognize that fact and stay out of it. Now they will have to become involved in ruling on specific criteria for qualification of benefits for same-sex couples.
With regard to the discrimination (equal treatment) argument, we have all kinds of limitations to equal treatment based on age, race, economic status and residence. This is done for the common good. There are requirements for drivers' licenses, professional licenses, limited entry, subsistence hunting, welfare programs, etc. There should be nothing unusual or unjust about limiting marriage benefits to those who are legally married.
The court's decision gives recognition to a disordered relationship which can only be harmful to our society. We have the right to expect that our judges refrain from decisions that violate the common good. Recognizing a homosexual union as being "similarly situated" as marriage does just that.
There seems to be no recognition of the value and importance that marriage and the family have to our society. How will the court deny benefits to polygamists or even three people in a domestic relationship? Certainly heterosexual couples living in "committed relationships" should now be able to demand benefits, which would be another blow to marriage and a stable home for children. We need a lot more wisdom and a lot less activism on the part of our courts.
The people of Alaska should settle this issue by voting on it rather than having a few judges tell us what they want. We will have such an opportunity on April 3. A "Yes" vote will be a vote in support of marriage and the family.
Sidney D. Heidersdorf
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