North Idaho Lawmakers: No Chance for Marriage Equality in Idaho

As  Washington celebrated the signing of its new marriage equality law, a group of Idaho lawmakers up north were re-affirming their  own positions on the issue.

Sen. John Goedde, (R-Coeur d’Alene), told the Coeur D’alene Press on Sunday,”Idaho is just more packed with conservatives than Washington.”

Goedde, who believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, tells the newspaper he believes,”even alternative measures like domestic partnerships will flounder” in Idaho.  

Rep. Bob Nonini, (R-Coeur d’Alene), pointed out that Idaho has a law banning same-sex marriage in Idaho. He fails to mention that the 2006 legislation was heavily lobbied for by right-wing religious groups like the Idaho’s Values Alliance and others.

Sen. Frank Henderson, (R-Post Falls) said he voted against a marriage equality bill several years ago and would continue to do so.

Sen. Jim Hammond, (R-Post Falls), tells the paper for some it’s a business issue,”The concerns that I hear are concerns for employers, them having to cover same-sex spouses.”

Hammond also says he believes that most Idaho lawmakers would object to such a law based on personal morality.  Hammond and others are wrong, however, to base their objections on simple religious beliefs.

Marriage equality has little to do with what one’s faith.

As  points out, “Civil marriage is a relationship sanctioned and licensed by the state.  It does not require the blessing of any religious institution.  Religious marriage is the spiritual blessing of a relationship by a church, mosque, synagogue or other religious institution, and in New York it is not legally binding on the married couple unless they also secure a civil marriage license. Marriage equality as a civil rights issue refers to equal treatment in civil marriage as administered and licensed by the state.”

In fact,  in the U.S. there are about 1400 rights that are granted BY the STATE to heterosexual married couples not afforded to those in a same-sex relationship. Those rights include the essential rights to parental rights of children, joint adoption, status as next of kin, sick leave to take care of a partner or child, crime victim recovery rights, federal and state benefits, rights and privileges such as social security, taxes, inheritance, medical decisions,  and many others.

We’ve all heard the arguments regarding the supposed,”slippery slope.”If we allow for same-sex marriage then we have to allow for people to marry their animals or their relatives,” or so goes the argument.

But as  points out,”the very notion is manifestly ridiculous. Gay marriage is a legal and moral issue distinct from these others, and it as best disingenuous to argue that its legalization will force the government to recognize the sanctity of a human bond with an animal or a dead person. And will the state have to sanction polygamous, incestuous or child marriages. To intimate otherwise, is not an argument, it’s a panic.”

It’s also a ridiculous notion to call same-sex marriage, “an attack on traditional marriages.” The web guide goes on,”If the state is permitted to cite “traditional restrictions” and ban gays and lesbians from marrying, what would prevent it from also banning other categories of people “traditionally” denied the right to marry? Not so long ago, people with mental disabilities and sexually transmitted diseases were “historically” denied access to the marital institution. If gay men and women are not permitted to marry on grounds of tradition, what could stop the state from denying these other groups the right to marry on grounds of tradition as well? Going one step further, anti-miscegenation laws, on the books of some states from as early as 1691, are as “traditional” as any law in this country. Also part of our country’s tradition is a legal conception of marriage whereby a woman is considered the “property” of her husband. If the state opts to ban gay marriages because it wants to define marriage traditionally, as a matter of intellectual consistency do we not risk the return of these other antiquated, albeit “traditional,” definitions of marriage as well?”

As for the cost of same-sex marriage,” the New York City Comptroller released a report in 2007 showing that the money generated and saved by allowing same-sex couples to marry in the state could total over $117 million gained.  This figure was based on factors including:

  • Increased state tax income as a result of joint filing for same-sex couples would total $2.1 million statewide.
  • Revenues from marriage license fees would total $3 million statewide.
  • Since the domestic partners of New York State (and some other municipalities’) employees are already eligible for health benefits under the law, the public sector is unlikely to incur any additional spousal health benefits costs.
  • Individuals who receive public assistance under certain programs—such as the State’s Medicaid program—may become ineligible if they marry someone whose income or assets lift them as a couple above the thresholds for these programs. This could save the state about $110 million in Medicaid payments.

Other economic factors to be considered, but not included in the Comptroller’s overall additional revenue number include:

  • Greater economic security resulting from marriage may prompt more couples to buy homes, thereby increasing homeownership rates and generating greater real estate tax revenue of nearly $50 million.
  • Private employers may face lower recruiting costs or an expanded pool of qualified candidates if same-sex couples are more likely to move to New York as a result of the change.
  • Because same-sex couples do not even have the option of utilizing marriage and the protections it provides, they may lack the support for their families that other families have to keep them from depending more directly on health and social services provided by the state.

Granted, since Idaho has a much lower population then New York, the savings won’t be as much, but as we can see from the model and projections, same-sex marriage does no harm to a state’s economy. In fact, the truth is it’s just the opposite.

Once one starts to look at the facts surrounding marriage equality, one has to wonder what exactly it is that these north Idaho lawmakers are truly afraid of?

2 Responses to North Idaho Lawmakers: No Chance for Marriage Equality in Idaho

  1. Ben Wilson says:

    It’s certainly upsetting that the economic boon that gay friendly environments bring to localities brave enough to enact such laws aren’t enough to even warrant a debate.

    Salt Lake City, gayest city? Thanks Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and Colorado for all your hatred. Rocky Anderson and Jon Huntsman showed great courage to stand up the what they did, and they have a more vibrant town and state because of it.

    If only Idahoan legislators let conscience come before church, or party…

  2. Jani says:

    Oh james. Keep fighting the good fight. Eventually old ideas will leave with old people. I hope. Good grief.

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