I'm well aware that actually talking to people is a more effective method of getting voters to the polls, but it terrifies me to death. I generally seek to avoid confrontation on political issues -- I've found arguing politics can get people very angry, often unreasonably so. And I have always especially avoided confrontation about issues as personal to me as gay rights, since the last thing I'd want to do is be participating in an unreasonably angry confrontation that suddenly turns personal.
So, my brother and I walked together around his block and a few near him, and whenever we saw people outside near their homes, my brother would go talk to them a little bit, identifying himself as a volunteer for No Nonsense in November and being generally very polite. The neighbors we met were all very supportive -- there weren't any confrontations like what I feared. I listened and learned what these sorts of conversations should sound like, and who knows, I might feel comfortable enough leading one next time.
It actually turned out we might have had time to talk to more people. We ran out of flyers after an hour. But what can I say, all four of us involved were really doing this for the first or second time, so -- you live, you learn. I hope to have a picture of the flyer to post later this week.
So what is Proposition 2? It's a discriminatory proposed amendment to the Texas State Constitution scheduled to be on the ballot November 8, 2005. Here's the ballot language:
"The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."
So why should you vote against Proposition 2? Well, the No Nonsense in November campaign has made a couple of very good points:
It's a distraction from real issues. Despite three special sessions, the Texas legislature was unable to pass property tax reform, any school finance solution, or cover Texas children's health insurance. But they passed this Proposition, which is about as important to Texas as the other things they did: talk about sexy cheerleading, designate the chuck wagon the official state vehicle, and designate the Dutch oven the official state cooking implement.
It's a misuse of the Texas Bill of Rights to use it to deny rights. The Texas Bill of Rights protects the rights of Texans, such as freedom of religion and speech, crime victims' rights, and equal rights for women. It would be a cruel irony to use that same part of the Texas State Constitution to deny basic rights to some Texas citizens. A Bill of Rights is an important document. But when you start shoving other things in there, it's not really a Bill of Rights anymore, and people will take all of them less seriously.
It's unnecessary for its primary purpose -- prohibiting recognition of gay marriage. The Texas Family Code already states, "A license may not be issued for the marriage of persons of the same sex." Texas has a Defense of Marriage Act preventing the state government from recognizing same-sex marriages and civil unions from other jurisdictions. Can anyone seriously say the state legislature or the state courts are on the verge of changing this situation? And even if they were, the Constitution shouldn't be used as a safeguard against people changing their minds on an issue.
It's discriminatory in its secondary purpose -- denying rights to gay couples that exist for married straight couples. While the State of Texas currently offers no legal status like marriage, there are county and city governments that offer domestic partner benefits that would be nullified by this amendment. It would permanently deny gay couples basic human rights like the right to visit each other in the hospital, make end-of-life decisions for one another, and be recognized as parents of each others' children. And it hurts the children of same-sex couples in other ways too, denying them access to health insurance and Social Security benefits in the event of the death of a parent. It may call existing carefully-worded contracts into question as well.
It will have unintended consequences for straight couples as well. The ballot language is overly broad -- "legal status identical or similar to marriage" may include common law marriages. A similar amendment passed in Ohio, and judges there dismissed domestic violence charges because the straight couple involved were unmarried.
Please vote no on Proposition 2 on November 8 of this year. It really is nonsense.