In Colorado, there is a bill before the legislature to create a Domestic Partner registry allowing couples to become domestic partners and have some of the rights and benefits accorded married couples.

In an effort to pull support from the Domestic Partners bill, Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, introduced Senate Bill 166, which would offer far fewer rights and benefits but would be open to any two people who wanted to declare themselves as reciprocal beneficiaries.

Mitchell’s bill, which has been assigned to the Business, Labor and Technology Committee, would allow a wide range of partners – including same-sex couples, adults who are related by blood or adoption, and friends – to sign a form declaring themselves reciprocal beneficiaries.

Once the form is filed with a county clerk the partners would have property-sharing rights, decision-making powers over funerals and organ donations and could be covered under one person’s health care policy. Partners could cancel the form at any point.

Focus on the Family has signed on to Bill 166. If passed, it would allow gay couples no more rights than random strangers while also diffusing gay couples’ claims of cruelty that results from restricting them from equality. FOTF is able to say, “see, you aren’t harmed at all”.

Though Mitchell has actively legislated consistently in opposition to any rights by gay couples, he denies that his bill is intended to distract from the domestic partner registry. FOTF, however, is not so coy:

“We see homosexuals as a group [that] can be found to have the highest standard of living, or amongst the higher standard of living, of any group of people in the United States,” the Focus spokesman says.
“And the legislature in Colorado was looking to give them even more benefits on top of that — whereas you’ve got people in other segments of society who, frankly, have true needs that are being ignored, and they may be at or near poverty levels.”

In 1997, Focus on the Family supported similar legislation in Hawaii that had been introduced as part of a move to protect traditional marriage.

However, anti-gay movement is also the “you must get married movement” so they didn’t want to allow any potential heterosexual couples from taking advantage of burial rights or other rights without marriage

Mitchell said it doesn’t matter how long these partners have known each other. The bill does not, however, apply to couples who are eligible to marry.

And this has caused anti-gay bogus statistician, Paul Cameron, to object. It would be possible for unmarried gay couples to get rights that unmarried straight couples could not get. And since Cameron opposes all rights and benefits to any gay couple anywhere, he is accusing FOTF of selling out.

Cameron contends the measure’s exclusion of cohabiting heterosexuals “violates” Dobson’s stated principle. “Needy cohabiting homosexuals would be eligible for benefits” under the bill, says Cameron — but “needy cohabiting heterosexuals would remain needy.”

Cameron maintains the Colorado ministry’s support for the bill “undermines” the efforts of pro-family groups that have been battling against special rights for homosexuals. “Dobson’s statement gives aid and comfort to the homosexual movement,” he charges.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I suspect that taking the Reciprocal Benefits road will eventually prove troublesome for anti-gay activists.

Over time I believe that society will recognize that many more of the benefits that straight couples share should not be restricted from gay couples and will amend the reciprocal benefits to include such benefits. The anti-gay activists will find themselves with same-sex friends eventually having the same rights and benefits as heterosexual married persons. And while allowing gay couples to marry does not diminish the special status of marriage, allowing poker buddies the same rights as marriage does make marriage less special.

At some point they will have to decide whether they want to honor and strengthen marriage or if they want to thwart gay people.

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