Legislating Acceptance

Wading into the whole gay marriage debate is probably stupid of me, mostly because I really don't have a dog in the fight. I can see the point of both sides. But mostly this is a place where my libertarian leanings come out (so to speak). Let 'em do what they will, calling it what they want.

But there is the nagging question of why the government is involved in marriage at all. It's a private contract sanctioned by the church of your choice. What the hell is the government doing issuing marriage licenses? Don't we have separation of church and state in this country?

I suspect that the present debate will force those questions to come to the fore. The Spyral Notebook crystal ball tells me that the concept of traditional marriage will be so undermined by politics that the government will eventually get out of the marriage license business altogether. It will take the tack that we see in Belgium and other European countries.

There, the state issues a license bestowing all the conditions of legal union on couples (analogous to civil unions for all). Then, if so desired, couples have separate church weddings. The couple's church decides the conditions of those compacts.

The vast majority of Americans support civil unions. Very few people in the US believe that homosexuals shouldn't have the legal right to live together, raise children and generally have committed, legally recognized relationships. So the politics of civil unions work here.

Yet presently we are in the odd situation where homosexuals demand that civil unions are not good enough. They want their associations to be called "marriages". They believe anything short of that demonstrates inequality. I do suspect though, that if all unions were of the civil kind (no pun intended!), they would have a lower soap box from which to shout.

The only apparent resolution to the present impasse (and the probable compromise) is for the government to quit issuing marriage licenses. It will be civil unions for all. My bet is that as a result, traditional marriage will flourish, as the role of churches in marriage increases in importance. Same sex unions will continue to be what they are today - a bit of a novelty that society in general accepts, though considers odd and a bit unfortunate.

Unfortunately, the compromise will be not bring what gay couples seek. Because at the end of the day, you can't legislate your way to social acceptance.

Update: How did I miss the pun embedded in this post? It's now noted, though it makes me think I shouldn't write on this blog without at least two cups of coffee under my belt.

3 comments:

Terry Cowgill

10:41 PM

Not stupid at all. Agree with every word. I've been saying this for years. Get the gov out of the marriage biz.

But you know how it is: the Falwell wing of the GOP still says civil unions for gays threaten their families. How do enlightened Repubs such as yourself appease them?

Richie

9:22 AM

Terry, I think the conservative Christian "wing" argument is that "gay marriage" affects the family structure, not necessarily their family.

I think the argument is one of semantics as well as secular pressure on "the church".

As to semantics, marriage is (and has always been) defined as the union (in the church it would be considered a covenant relationship) between a man and a woman. It is sort of a religious definition. It is more than a contract. It is supposed to be (at least) a commitment to be together and procreate. I agree with this definition, but I also think the state should allow for contractual arrangements for those (gay or not) who wish to live together and enjoy some of the financial advantages that married people enjoy. The biggest issue then becomes should gay couples be able to adopt? That would drastically alter the traditional family structure, good or bad.

The other subtlety introduced in this argument is the pressure by the homosexual community to not only be accepted (like you said Jake), but to force "the church" to accept the gay marriage arrangement using the state as the enforcer. That IMHO is a violation of the church/state separation doctrine.

I have always thought that the state should get out of the "marriage" argument and only look at couple arrangements as contracts with legal ramifications only. The state shouldn’t use the word “marriage” at all. Let the church define what it wants to call a “marriage”.

xby

1:38 PM

It's the word "license" that counts, I think. It means income for the government. I do agree that if all had "civil unions", that would even the field, and those that can find the church of their choice to sanctify their joining, so much the better. Yes, get the government out of something that is private and personal for all. I can't believe I am agreeing with you conservatives, but on this issue, I agree completely with your assessment and with your prognostications. Terry, as to appeasement, it is not necessary. Look at the Episcopalian church. It is time for the Republican Party (and the church) to re-tool, and if it means that there is a split, so be it. The party needs to return to the majority, to get it's constituency more involved, and bring new people into their flock. Xby