Why DOMA initatives do not work.

This is the reason why people should vote No on Proposition 8.
(thanks to Blogcabin California) for the find.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

Amendment could lead to tragedy

July 27, 2008

By William Butte

Mathew Staver, president of the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, represents a group of Californians described as “extremists” who want to go beyond banning same-sex marriage to “strip away gay rights” of any kind in the Golden State. He also authored Florida’s Amendment 2, the November ballot measure that would alter our state’s constitution to define marriage as between only a man and a woman and ban its “substantial equivalent.”

The description of Staver’s group as anti-gay rights extremists comes not from gay rights activists but from Andrew Pugno, a lawyer representing backers of Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that would limit marriage there to heterosexual couples without banning its “substantial equivalent.”

As reported July 16 on Law.com, during the recent unsuccessful legal challenge to keep Proposition. 8 off California’s November ballot, Pugno filed a brief asking the California Supreme Court to prevent Staver’s group, Campaign for California Families, from intervening in the suit.

Pugno attached a letter from 2005 that CCF sent out to voters, describing Proposition. 8 as a “flawed amendment” that would “permit marriage by another name in California,” while the CCF’s proposed amendment would “limit marriage to a man and a woman, eliminate domestic partnerships and many gay rights already provided by companies and other organizations.”

After California enacted a domestic partnership law in 2005, Staver tried twice but failed to get enough signatures for his amendment; Californians weren’t opposed to the law or its benefits to same-sex and unmarried senior couples, such as hospital visits and medical decision making.

Staver would like to ban such benefits in Florida by using Amendment 2 with its ban on the “substantial equivalent” of marriage to dismantle the few domestic partnership registries in the state. And that will guarantee more tragic stories such as that of Lisa Pond and Janice Langbehn.

The couple came to Miami from Lacey, Wash., in February 2007 with three of their four adopted children for “a family dream vacation,” as Langbehn later described their planned week-long Caribbean cruise.

But before their ship set sail, as the 39-year-old Pond watched her kids play on the upper deck, she suddenly collapsed.

Pond was rushed to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where Langbehn says hospital staff denied her and the children access to Pond for 18 hours, until she died from a brain aneurysm.

Langbehn and the children were treated as non-relatives, even though she and Pond had been together 18 years, and were registered domestic partners in Washington state.

Langbehn had friends fax their legal paperwork, including their health care surrogate form and durable power of attorney, to JMH social worker Garnett Frederick, who she says told her that they were “in an anti-gay city and state.”

Last month, Langbehn filed a federal lawsuit for negligence against the Public Health Trust of Miami-Dade County, which governs Jackson Memorial Hospital, naming Frederick and two doctors as defendants. Florida residents in registered domestic partnerships can also encounter problems.

After Langbehn’s lawsuit was publicized, I heard from a Broward County man who’d been in a registered domestic partnership, and even with durable power of attorney he had to get a court order to gain access to his partner of 18 years in a local hospital before he died.

When Langbehn’s lawsuit was publicized in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, an online poll asked readers: “Should Florida hospitals recognize gay partners as official next of kin?” And 86.4 percent of respondents answered “yes.” With Amendment 2, the answer its author wants us to hear is: “No. This is an anti-gay state.”

Your vote against his amendment in November will help ensure those words aren’t used against Floridians or our tourists ever again.

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