Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I am not now nor have I ever been a member of ....

Apparently the guys at Fair Wisconsin are all over me because I take referrals from the Alliance Defense Fund and blog at their website (although I have been so busy lately that I have only done it once). Jay Bullock, who says nice things about me (things I would also - and have - said about him), issues the following challenge:

I think it is incumbent upon Rick to explain why ADF's history of pursuing cases based on the kind of weasel language our proposed amendment contains shouldn't make us wary of a "yes" vote.

Fair Wisconsin goes further saying "If our ban passes, is Esenberg saying that ADF won't sue here? Or that he won't take part in such a suit? Somehow, I doubt it."

Let me review the bidding. First, I do not work for ADF and I will not take upon myself the burden of agreeing with every position taken by every client they represent if for no other reason that I am not aware of them. What I do with ADF is consider referrals from them of pro bono work. I was asked to blog on a law blog they have created. This does not mean that I become involved in everything they do or that they consult with me on anything they do. I think ADF is a fine organization that provides excellent legal representation to religious conservatives (on lots of issues that have nothing to do with gays and lesbians), but Rick is not ADF and ADF is not Rick.

The thing about legal organizations - whether they are private firms or public interest firms - is that what the positions they take will be driven by the needs of their clients and will never be just what the lawyers might say if they spoke only for themselves. When I blog or write or appear at forums, I'm speaking for myself. It is highly unlikely that the array of positions I take will be perfectly consistent with those taken by anyone but myself.

As to what position ADF will take on domestic partner benefits, I don't know. I think the question is too imprecise to even hazard a guess. I do know that they have taken the position that reciprocal benefit schemes are OK. What they are hinky about (and, I think, rightly so) is in creating statuses that are "marriage lite." They don't mind people sharing benefits (as long as its not part of a status like marriage) or entering into agreements under which they may assume certain obligations toward another.

My opinion, after thinking a lot since I first blogged about it in March, is that the amendment would not prohibit an employer from saying that you can designate another person to share your health insurance. I can't tell you whether people employed by ADF would agree. They are smart guys and girls and form their own opinions.

But here's a question for all those people who say that an amendment is not necessary. Are they saying that the ACLU, or any one of a number of legal organizations that amendment opponents work with, won't sue claiming that same-sex marriage is compelled by the state or federal constitution?


Anonymous said...

Perhaps they were referring to your entry when you wrote:

I have been extended blogging "privileges" at Constitutionally Correct, a law blog operated by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative public interest law firm with which I work.

That entry makes you seem much more deeply entangled with ADF than you claim to be in this entry.

Anonymous said...

I just went back to the Fair Wisconsin post; they say you "work with" ADF, which is precisely what you say.

Seems strange to get upset at them for referring to your description of the relationship practically verbatim.

Dad29 said...

It is Wiggy's opinion that the ACLU and/or its running dogs will commence lawsuit in Wisconsin with the purpose of erecting a "marriage-lite" status IF this Amendment does not pass.

And they have every reason to believe that they will prevail with the current WiSupreme alignment.

Anonymous said...

It is ludicrous (or ignorant) for you to say you don't know ADF's position regarding domestic partnership health insurance benefits. They have funded litigation in Ohio to eliminate the benefit right after th eamendment passed there. In Louisiana the ADF attorney explicityly stated that he was going to argue that domestic partnership benefits alone create a status "substantially similar" to marriage. Do you know the company you are keeping?

Answer this: what is your position regarding health insurance for domestic partners? If you believe that this issue ought to be left to the negotiation of employers and employees, then you must vote No. Otherwise, you are asking for "activist judges" to make the decision rather than the free market. No wonder more Republicans are voting No.

Anonymous said...

Domestic partner health care programs currently in place in Madison, Milwaukee, the La Crosse School District and so forth require the employee to prove that she or he is in a marriage-like relationship with her or his partner.

Here are some requirements from the Madison agreement (required for domestic partners to receive soft benefits currently offered by the University, such as library privileges):

"Have entered into a relationship which is the functional equivalent of a marriage, and which
includes all of the following:
a. living together as a couple;
b. mutual support of each other;
c. mutual caring and commitment to each other;
d. mutual fidelity;
e. mutual responsibility for each other’s welfare; and
f. joint responsibility for the necessities of life."

I'm no lawyer, but I'd wager that the Wisconsin amendment pretty clearly makes such an arrangement unconstitutional.

Also, I'm curious: there was a time, Rick, when you seemed to favor the idea of civil unions for gay couples (and when you disagreed with the second sentence). You seem now to oppose any legal arrangement that recognizes gay families as anything more than roommates. That's quite a transition.

Anonymous said...

I would vote "yes" for the first sentence but I will vote "no" because of the second sentence.