First salvo on this issue goes to CVE
. For the most part, it's on target. Heck, even the comments on that post are pretty right on, as well. There are a few minor issues with which I take issue, so let's dispose of them here, so I can get to a discussion that counts. Anywho, CVE
Wait a sec, if the government's so bad, why should we let it decide who should get married? Oh, I see, the government's just fine as long as its sticking its nose into our bedrooms and deciding who we can live with and what kind of sex we can have, but heaven forbid we fund public television, because that's going to erode our rights and destroy the nation?
My thing with this is not the at-first-glance sentiment, but rather the implicit counterpart which would imply that if we assume government is good then it is allowed to stick its nose into bedrooms, and so on and so forth. Secondly, does deciding who gets married determine who we can live with?
More broadly, I agree with those who excoriate the mayor of San Francisco and the Maryland Supreme Court. Aside from the crux of the issue, I vehemently disagree with those public servants who feel that their obligations to their own particular agendas supersede their obligations to the body politic and the rule of law as a whole. At what point does telling the entire set of principles upon which this government was founded to go piss up a rope, simply because the person doing so, does so with conviction
, become a recipe for President-For-Life? Would not then the War on Terror justify avoiding a presidential election so as not to send the 'wrong' signal to the terrorists?
Of course not - for that way lays silliness. So, it does not take my reader much to imagine why I would just as soon not see such silliness given life in this current debate.
Thirdly, I would tend to side with those who view bucking a few millennia of tradition somewhat askance. That, in and of itself, is not reason enough to chuck the whole enterprise (or really any of it, for that matter). It is sufficient reason to go slow, in my book. If nothing else, turning society on a dime is a fantastically good way to end up hip deep in a disaster. If we did things of this sort, the US would probably be practicing euthanasia of retarded folks and be committed to a draconian one-child policy. I think the gay marriage issue is one best mulled over, because so much of the reaction I see now is reflexive, rather than considered. At the very minimum, it should not be a campaign issue.
Furthermore, this is in no, way, shape, or form providing equal rights for everybody. Gay marriage is a means of expanding
existing rights. I have the same right to marry a woman as a does a gay man. That same gay man may not legally marry his boyfriend, and more than I can marry his boyfriend. Now, CVE
notes in a later post
, that analogies between gay and interracial marriage can be made. I also agree, to some extent, with the comments that there is more than a bit of an apples and oranges element here, if only by virtue of the fact that gender is a whole lot more binary than race. Race is hard one to peg on, simply because a quick check of dangly bits can (almost always) tell me the gender of an individual, but no amount of counting melanin can give me a useful quantitative measure of "race."
But this too, is another tangent. For any of those describe themselves as either Liberal or liberal (classically liberal or leftist) are in a damnably difficult position if they choose to argue against the expansion of existing rights.
Now to the meat - the biggest reason, from my observation, that gay couples want legal recognition of marriage is to accrue the same legal benefits that a similarly positioned (no pun intended, you dirty so-and-so) heterosexual couple will gain from the institution of marriage. This hinges on two elements; the benefits and the institution.
At a rough guess, those who are in favor aren't by and large seeking the imprimatur of organized religion to create a sacred covenant between same-sex-spouse and same-sex-spouse. If they are, they can go piss up a rope and start their own church to do that, there's no need to hijack someone else's. And if there were, why pick on me? Why not make it incumbent on the House of Saud to change? That is, of course, a purely rhetorical question echoing discussion of brutality, so I put it here only as a hypothetical exercise.
Conversely, I don't see many married couples that have a gigantic problem with the concept of providing a stable nuclear family (of one variety or another) for raising children, or building strong communities, or so on. The prime objection seems to be a sense that the institution itself is being hijacked. For those who actually, genuinely resent the notion that gay couples might accrue a benefit from entering into some sort of mutual agreement, I would like to know what they propose about doing to the menace of common-law marriages, where the individuals involved don't even make a choice, but simply start latching onto marriage through inertia alone.
So, what to do? Cut the baby in half.
Separate marriage and civil union. Utterly and totally. Call civil union that legal arrangement that gets the broader seal of approval from the government at large. Call marriage a spiritual affirmation of covenant between the parties involved, their community, and God. Take the separation of church and state a bit farther, but put in lines that can be held.
What I imagine is this: a civil union would be, by default, a union between any two consenting, mentally competent adults who are not currently engaged in a civil union or marriage with a third party. Civil union would not, in any way, shape, or form, imply consummation. Think of it as forming a mini-corporation, a joint enterprise of sorts. Things like spousal medical coverage would extend to the other partner in the union. So, for instance, two spinster sisters could form a civil union, to protect against unforeseen health care costs. An only child could have a mechanism for ensuring for the health care of a surviving parent. Sure, roughly allied mechanisms exist for this as is, but the whole 'declaring of dependents' gig doesn't have the same quality of reciprocal protection. Now, a civil union could be expanded in limited circumstances. These would be cases that did not violate existing incest statues, competency problems (no civil union, then getting power of attorney shenanigans) and could only be expanded to include dependent minor children, although no distinction is not made between adopted and biological children. Civil unions could be dissolved either with or without the consent of both parties. Since children cannot participate in a civil union, physical and legal custody of the child would have to be assigned to one of those in the union.
What then, of marriage. Marriage would remain the sole province of society. The imprimatur and seal of societal recognition and acceptance of the spiritual and emotional bonds that have crystallized into a most sacred covenant of love, trust, and mutual support. People get married in church - signing a civil union is done in a law office.
Yes, couples can get both married and unioned. Let's say that I enter into a union with a sick relative to provide them with health coverage under my insurance plan. That's fine, but it sure as hell isn't a marriage. Conversely, let's say that one of my past lives wants to get married to a pet rock - as long as I can find the bizzaro sect to do it, they can give me a certificate and put a smiley face sticker on it. But I darned well better not try to get spousal maternity leave just because I found gravel next to my pet rock. But if the Significant Other Of My Dreams Who Happens To Be Of A Different Gender Than I Am
gets goofy enough to get want to get hitched, then we would be eligible for both marriage and civil union. Think of it like getting PADI
certification for SCUBA.
Could this result in the creation of the First Church Of The Extraordinarily Gay Pink Triangle? Yep. But there ain't a whole lot of preventing that now.
On a brass tacks level, would some organization, such as a church, be able to provide marriage counseling, without union counseling? My gut says yes, in much the same way that I can talk to a Rabbi or Imam or whoever about my personal issues - and get the Judaic, Muslim, or whatever answer to it. A gay unioned couple wanders into a Catholic church looking for counseling - the counseling may be about the sin of being gay - not relationship problems.
Would a company be able to provide different benefits to married and unioned couples?
Is it a usable answer? Heck, no. It's not even a beginning answer - it is merely an idea that might lead to something mutually agreeable some day. Maybe there is a way to keep the fiscal physical and the emotional spiritual.
UPDATE the First: Trying to translate the post into English. Who needs proofreading anyways?