We mock Utah. It's got a reputation for being a bit, umm, Mormon. Those who haven't been to Utah get the distinct impression that the Osmond family patrols the streets of Utah looking to bring swift Mormon justice to anybody who might be having fun. This is not true. Not entirely anyway. Only half of the Osmond family patrols the streets looking for wayward heathens.
Compared to neighboring Nevada, where prostitution is legal, Utah is a puritanical empire but so is California when held up to that standard of liberty. Yeah, Utah's endured some pretty aggressive overtures from religious zealots but over all it's pretty laid back. Believe me when I tell you that great snow notwithstanding, skiers and snowboarders would not make Utah a destination if the authorities cracked down as much as people think they do.
Utah might not be as progressive as some states, but at least they aren't regressing. Like Ohio. Yes, Ohio is leading the way back to the days of Indian wars and slave auctions. It seems as though Ohio doesn't like what the future holds so the whole state is running back to the turn of the century. The 18th century.
In 2004 Ohio passed a so-called defense of marriage act. Apparently marriage was under attack and needed legislation passed to protect it from people who wanted to get married. I still don't understand how gay people getting married has any impact on straight people getting married but to many Ohioans this issue was of critical importance. More than toxic sediment in Lake Erie; more than corruption in the governor's office. Homosexuals posed the biggest threat to families in Ohio.
Granted, other states passed similar legislation. Even Oregon, the liberal stronghold, passed these gay marriage bans. Although it in Oregon's case you have to wonder if homosexuals secretly supported the ban so that contractual option would remain a moot point. Nobody ever accused a homosexual of being stupid. Prissy? Sure, but stupid? No.
Ohio's ban went a step beyond simply making it illegal for gays to marry. The language in the amendment is written so as to render common law marriages and domestic partnerships legally invalid. So not only did they limit who could get married, they made all other relationships worthless in the eyes of the law. So you've been living together as domestic partners for 30 years? Too bad. You're not family so you'll have to leave the ICU. Very nice. Oh yes, it's that specific. In a medical emergency the state will have the authority to make decisions over your partner. Take that you queers! Oh, and everybody else.
Nevermind the fact that there are some people who aren't religious and don't believe in marital contracts. Many of these people are heterosexual (not that this should matter) and maintain more successful and enduring monogamous relationships than their married peers. Ohio's law punishes them.
Now, with another election coming up, legislators are drafting another moral agenda bill. This time the issue is contraception and whether or not medical professionals have a right to refuse to dispense it. The talking points supporting this bill center on RU486 or Plan B, which is the pill a woman takes immediately after sex to prevent the development of a fertilized egg, but it the language of the bill also allows doctors and pharmacists, who are licensed by the state, to refuse to distribute any contraception.
This is not about personal choice. This is about suspending subjective religious beliefs when you perform your duties as a licensed medical professional. Where do you draw the line? Sure, one doctor might not want to prescribe RU486, but what happens when you need a blood transfusion? What if that doctor believes that treatment is morally objectionable?
That's why I think Ohio's new state anthem should be rewritten. I have submitted the following lyrics to be sung to the tune of Bowling for Soup's 1985:
Ohio just hit the wall
we're watching freedom fall
taking evolution away
won't let you marry gay
Bill of Rights went out the door
back in 2004
gave our money to one man
and a coin investment plan
We were going to make some progress
shake up history
we were going to change the world
and clean up Lake Erie
but now the Jesus freaks are controlling me
they took my normal life
and drove me back in time, to:
Indentured servants, burnt witches
and knickers were your britches,
we had baked beans, and toiling
there was no time for enjoying
went to service on Sunday
they'd stone you if you went astray
because things were so cool in 16, 16, 1692.
Those people had it made
it was a simple way
follow the word of god
or they made you pay
women were just like cows
who took marriage vows
you had to obey your spouse
it wasn't a thing like now.
Where's that burning smell in Salem,
and when did TV become the devil's new haven
when did liberty become objective
whatever happened to fire and brimstone
(and no radio)