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UnCivil Union

21 November, 2008 (15:16) | hitch | By: hitch

Warning: I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and every time I sit down to write it, too much tries to froth forth into my fingers at once. If this whole screed seems a bit jumbled and disjointed, that’s why.

The arguments about same-sex marriage are frustrating to me. Primarily because I hate watching two or more parties yell past each other at the top of their lungs while both sides seem to miss the point entirely. Let’s get this out in the open and say it plainly:

I think that the government of the United States of America should in no way recognize the marriage of same-sex couples.

I think that the government should recognize a civil union contract which, for legal purposes, should replace the legal contract of marriage.

I mean “replace”. Really and truly. Not just for same-sex couples, but for all sets of individuals which seek to form a “civil union”.

The root for my thought process is thus: The most vehemently stated reason that same-sex marriages should be banned is that marriage, as defined by “God”, is between a man and a woman. The doctrine of separation of church and state is, generally, fairly clear, but in this case it gets fuzzy as the state recognizes marriage and confers certain rights to people who have married, but people keep screaming that marriage is a religious thing in addition. The problem is that you can’t have it both ways. Therefore, here’s what we need to do:

The State should in no way recognize “marriage”. The people who are currently married are, henceforth, by the government – state, federal, and otherwise – to be seen to have engaged into a “civil union”, governed by the existing rules that apply to marriages. Future civil unions will be recognized by those same rules, and apply to whatever groupings of individuals it becomes necessary to apply these to. (You want to marry your dog? Fine. Get him/her to be declared competent to enter into a contract and we’ll talk.)
Marriage, then, is solely the domain of the Church. Therefore, whatever church decides to recognize a particular marriage is their own decision. If Catholics don’t recognize Methodist marriages, or if Presbyterians decide that Reformed Presbyterians are off their nut because of that thing about escargot on Tuesdays….then whatever. The point being that then, yes, “Marriage” is whatever each individual church decides is God’s definition. Because I know that there are plenty of churches out there that can’t agree between themselves on this. How can it be possible that they can all agree on gender? Answer: they can’t. So while the Gay Rights movement is frustrated that we want to allow Civil Unions but not call them “Marriages”, I think they’re missing the boat on this. I’m all for it – give us Civil Unions. Give them to us all. Because this is a civil liberties issue, and the government absolutely needs to step up and make this right. But they can’t tell a church how to define marriage. That’s okay, though. Because there are enough rational people out there that I’m sure everyone will be able to work this out.

It’s tough, though, when you get two almost-but-not-quite-the-same concepts mixed together like this. It makes it really difficult to pull them apart and look at them individually, when that’s all it really takes to work it out.

Not that I’m suggesting this is the last word. I full expect this to piss off as many people (on both sides of the argument) as it could to give people something to think about. All I’m asking is that we do think it through.


Comment from Jenne (via Sabrina’s link)
Time 1/26/2009 at 8:45 pm

Wow, I totally agree with you! 100% actually! I was just arguing this view in my Am. Nat. Politics yesterday actually, much to the disgust of, well, everyone. I’m not alone in this world aside from my crazy, Libertarian husband! There’s at least two people you didn’t piss off, but rather found common ground with.

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