Salon has a great piece by Michelle Goldberg
about the super-DOMA up for a vote in the battleground state of Ohio.
Never mind the thousands of lost jobs and the human capital that is fleeing the state for economic opportunity elsewhere, the piece points out it is accompanied by the rising power of evangelical wingnuttery.
A crucial electoral battleground state, Ohio hasn't done well during the Bush era. In the last four years, it's lost a quarter million jobs. A report from the U.S. Census Bureau recently rated Cleveland the poorest big city in the country. Young people are leaving the state in droves. In August, Brent Larkin, editorial page director of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, wrote about Ohio's "raging brain drain."
But even as the state's economy decays, its big evangelical churches are thriving, and, with the tacit support of the national Republican Party, they have mobilized behind Issue 1. Preachers are exhorting flocks of thousands to vote their values in an election said to pit light against darkness. Ohio's gay citizens, a minority courted by no one, have been blindsided by the campaign against them. Many feel like they're under siege. Talk of moving to a friendlier state or country is widespread.
More after the jump...
If passed, Issue 1 will force Ohio's cities and universities to stop offering domestic partner benefits, including health insurance. Right now, such benefits are offered by the city of Columbus, Ohio's Miami University, Ohio University and Ohio State University, the largest university in America. Cleveland Heights has a domestic partnership registry, and some Ohio public schools give gay employees family leave to care for ailing partners. Issue 1 would probably mean they could no longer do so.
The amendment's impact won't stop there. "Because the state can't create any legal status for unmarried couples, it's very possible that domestic-violence protection orders could no longer be used if there's a domestic violence situation with an unmarried couple," says Alan Melamed, an attorney and chairman of the anti-Issue 1 group Ohioans Protecting the Constitution. Private companies can continue to offer domestic partner benefits, he adds, but "if the employee feels that those benefits were being improperly denied, an employee won't be able to go to court and enforce those benefits."
Issue 1 is only two sentences long, but there's a world of uncertainty in it. While the first sentence simply decrees that marriage is between a man and a woman, the second says, "This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."
There's not been a lot of talk about this issue outside of Ohio. It's pretty hard to see why it shouldn't be picked up by all the SCLM fawning all over this battleground state. It seems to me it illustrates a mini "blue state/red state" schism within Ohio's borders on the kinds of culture issues simmering all over the country.
Ohio and all the rest of the states that are threatening to punish other human beings strictly because they want to solidify their relationships and settle in Ohio deserve to see a mass exodus of gay and gay-friendly dollars and talent. All the prayer in the world won't stop that from happening if Issue 1 passes.
[NOTE: I can breathe a sigh of relief that the progressive community in NC prevented a super-DOMA of this nature from making it on the ballot in November, but its sponsors vow to try again in the next election cycle, so there are battles ahead. Honestly, if we fail to boot Bush, my wife and I are seriously thinking of moving to Canada - we married in July in Vancouver - where we can live as equal human beings in the eyes of the law. That's a sad thing to say, because I am a proud American that wishes to see tolerance triumph over fear.]