Amendment doesn#039;t touch No. 1 issues

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 17, 2004

Tribune editorial board

In a couple of weeks, Ohio voters will head to the polls for the 2004 election. Voters will choose among the litany of candidates and face one much-talked about, but little understood statewide proposition.

State Issue 1 seeks to amend the Ohio constitution to further clarify that the term "marriage" must only pertain to the union of a man and a woman.

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The same-sex marriage debate has been raging for a number of years. Each year the volume of discussion on the topic seems to grow in proportion with the acceptance level of homosexual lifestyles. In other words, as society as a whole grows more accustomed to seeing gay relationships, the tendency to see the gay point of view becomes more accepted.

For ardent opponents of homosexuality, the dividing lines couldn't be clearer.

From our perspective, changing the constitution requires a clear and overpowering need. In the case of Issue 1, the need to redefine what has already been made quite clear seems unnecessary.

Amending the constitution to say that marriage is only a union intended to be for a man and a women is a little like passing an amendment to clarify that the sky is, in fact, blue. Of course both statements are true. What's the point in arguing over it?

We think Issue 1 is a waste of time for a couple of reasons. First, the issue is already clearly defined by Ohio laws. Second, the U.S. Supreme Court can easily overturn any such state law, if it chooses to ever take a definitive stand on the subject of same-sex marriage.

Ohio, along with the rest of the country, should look for something of a compromise instead of continuing to fight over an issue that's fairly clear. One of the biggest arguments same-sex marriage is that it would allow partners to help make medical decisions for one another in times of crisis, just as male-female spouses do.

Why not spend the time we're wasting with Issue 1 on trying to develop some sort of distinction, short of marriage, that would allow such decisions to be made by same-sex partners?

Doing so would get to the heart of the issue and resolve the No. 1 issue of both sides: protecting the sanctity of marriage and offering a solution for a big problem same-sex couples experience.