Sunday, April 10, 2005

Tennessee Legislature Update
The good news? I received an email update tonight saying that a compromise voting rights bill will be up for a vote in the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday at 3:30 (anyone who can attend the hearing to show support is encourage. Davidson County Democrats will have people there). This is the result of a considerable effort of grassroots, organized lobbying to improve the laws which presently keep convicted felons from being elegible to vote without extraordinary effort in petitioning a circuit court judge. Sadly this first step will not cover those still on parole or on probation, only those who have completed their entire sentence (that was the compromise), but it is still a first step.

The bad news? Our legislature seems intent on intruding on marriage. The predictable gay marriage amendment will be on the ballot in 2006, but beyond that there is a bizarre covenant marriage bill pending that would be a new marriage option (like choosing the power windows on the car) making it more difficult to get a divorce. Presumably, conservative churches would counsel their members that if they are not ready to enter into that special super-promise marriage, then maybe they're not ready at all. But really, they just want to end the scourge that is divorce.

But my favorite, while they're at it, is new legislation that will entitle a person to damages should their spouse cheat.

What exactly do they hope to accomplish by trying to force couples to stay together? When did this become part of the job of government: building a higher bureaucratic wall around divorce, and trying to threaten unhappy spouses? I'm all for marriage--I think we should let more folks who want to enter into a personal covenant of love and commitment and family join in the party; but I'm just about sick of these yahoos who run for State office and see it as nothing more than a chance to turn their sunday school discussions into new law, come Monday.

If they insist, though, maybe they should explore some of the many areas in which the job of government and the cares of religion definitely intersect: in helping those who can't help themselves, and treating every person with dignity and respect.

We have a health insurance system in shambles, a struggling education system that lags behind almost every other state in almost every category, and a revenue system that would be laughable if it weren't so borderline cruel. And these bozos insist on trying to solve all our problems by tinkering with marriage.

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