September 14, 2004

Saturday Night Lever

Three days from today, on Sept. 18, Louisianians all over Louisiana will go to the polls. The Cajuns are playing at Kansas State this weekend, so "I was too drunk" will not be a viable excuse not to vote. Though "the dog ate it" still might be.

So what’s on the ballot that’s worth the trip? Different parishes are voting for everything from mayors to dogcatchers. Here in Lafayette Parish…um, well, news coverage has been so confusing that I couldn’t even tell you. It doesn’t help that certain candidates who are running in the Nov. 2 primary are printing “Vote Sept. 18!” on their campaign handouts. I’ve researched up and down and have even talked to some candidates, and still I’m clueless.

Just know this: the Sept. 18 ballot is the warm-up to the Nov. 2 election, when we vote for…who we're going to vote for later on! Election time in Louisiana means primaries, the "Survivor" of politics. Vote a few candidates off the island and pick from the two that are left on Dec. 4 (hopefully the winner won't go naked). Races include seats for the 7th Congressional District of the U.S. House, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Senate race.

Saturday’s statewide ballot features an amendment to Louisiana’s state constitution. Historically, Constitutional amendments have been famous for protecting such rights as free speech, personal security, citizenship and other nice things that actually benefit people. But in these times of fear, terrorism and fear of terrorism, discrimination is in.

The proposed initiative is called “Amendment One,” apparently intended to evoke the First Amendment, though it actually brings to mind Channel One, that subliminally corporate high school network. Under the amendment, marriage is strictly defined as a union between a man and a woman. It may be the first-ever amendment that doesn't actually amend anything. But wait! Not only does Amendment One uphold the current (wrong) law, it even outlaws CIVIL UNIONS. This ingenious clause was put in to give the impression that Republicans aren't anti-gay...they're anti-everybody! The amendment is set to dismantle the legal benefits of common-law cohabitation. No ring, no visiting.

To review: gay people won't get civil benefits unless they get married, except that they can't get married, and longtime heterosexual roomies face losing their benefits as well, forcing them to get married to keep them. How compassionate! How romantic!

All this to stop two gay people from getting the rings and obtaining the license. If we're looking to decrease access to licensing, then why don't we start on drivers first? A legal gay couple does no harm to my love for women, whereas a bad driver just might kill me.

Despite the best efforts of the Bush misadministration, this nation still has the separation of church and state. Anti-gay marriage sentiment is a religious concept, so government has no right to enforce this restriction. Why would anyone want to deprive two loving adults of the ability to commit? It's not as if anyone is being forced to be married anyway.

Voting against Amendment One is not a gay thing, but a sane thing. Unfortunately for the great American electorate, our voting system does not currently have an option for “Not just no, but HELL NO!” Until then, we’re going to face a lot more freedom-killing proposals thrown at us by the people who should have the least amount of influence over us. This amendment is a serious threat for those who value their job benefits, hospital-visitation rights and inheritance privileges.

On Saturday night, say "I don't" to Amendment One. Trust me, you aren't ready for that kind of commitment.


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