Unintended Consequences?

BTL Staff
By | 2018-01-15T18:25:41-04:00 October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

Things are getting pretty weird – and not weird like Michael Jackson showing up late for court in his pajamas weird. This is a much more insidious right-wing kind of weird and it’s not coming to a theatre near you. It’s coming to your actual life.
For those of us who have been paying attention, the descent has been frightening, but gradual. Those who have been tuned out are in store for a rude awakening.
It might sound alarmist, but it’s hard not to be alarmed lately.
Take Ohio for example. In this issue of BTL we report that two judges have ruled that Ohio’s anti-family marriage amendment, passed at the same time as Michigan’s, weakens the state’s domestic violence laws. If a couple isn’t married, they say, then it isn’t domestic violence, even if the couple lives together. Abusive boyfriends of Ohio can now rejoice as they smack their girlfriends around without pesky felony charges looming over their heads. Misdemeanor assault is so much more appealing.
Anyone who has ever been in a domestic violence situation or who has had a loved one being abused – and it is most often a woman being abused by a husband or boyfriend – knows the danger and the frustration inherent in these situations. Chances of a woman eventually being killed by her abuser are alarmingly high. It happens, literally, all the time. So often, in fact, that most of the time it doesn’t even make the news. The last thing we need to be doing as a society is weakening protections for people by gutting the very laws that punish the individuals who victimize them.
The domestic violence rulings in Ohio are being called an unintended consequence of that state’s marriage amendment, just as Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox’s recent opinion that universities and governments can’t offer domestic partner benefits is being called an unintended consequence of Michigan’s amendment. In both cases one has to wonder how unintentional these consequences were.
The backers of Ohio’s amendment drafted a particularly vile and far-reaching measure clearly intended to have punitive impact on gays and lesbians in Ohio. It is not a far leap to see that this measure’s broad nature could negatively impact other subjugated groups in Ohio, including abused women. If you look at the groups and individuals who push anti-gay measures, you’re not going to find many who are are fighting for the rights of women. Coincidence? Well, no.
In Michigan, proponents of Proposal 2 said time and again that this amendment was “only about marriage.” Those who fought against the measure knew better – we warned that if they got their amendment they would go after family benefits next, including hospital visitation and medical leave. And they are going after these things guns blazing. Their attack on the families of gays and lesbians is shameless.
It makes you wonder who’s next. But you don’t have to look very far to find out. This week’s creep of the week highlights a pro-life Democrat who wants to not only punish adulterers but involve government in a family’s end of life decisions. If a spouse has had an affair, he says, then that spouse shouldn’t be allowed to make end of life care decisions. The big question is, of course, at what point after a husband or a wife ends up on life support does the spouse have to parade his or her sexual history out and for whom? And what about gay and lesbian couples who aren’t afforded any protections at all?
Expect to see more of these punitive measures initiated on the state and federal level by politicians who believe it is their job not to balance budgets and grapple with national security issues, but to punish sinners according to their religious beliefs. Last time we checked that was going really well in Iran.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.