This happens all the time: I have a solution to a huge problem and don’t share it with anyone. Given the problems in California, I thought I ought to unveil my solution to the gay marriage problem. Enough fighting.
It’s not particularly relevant where I stand on gay marriage and on how marriage should be defined. What’s relevant is that a lot of people do define marriage as being between a man and a woman, and it is a sticking point that is getting in the way of giving gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, which I believe they should have. I think at least some percentage of the people who would vote in favor of the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman would also support giving gay couples spousal rights. In fact I am certain of this because of a discussion I had with someone close to me when relatives announced their son had married a man.
“Are you sending a gift?” I asked.
“No. I don’t believe in gay marriage. Marriage is between a man and a woman.”
“Do you think committed gay couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples?”
“Yes, but with civil unions.”
“If this couple had announced that they’d had a civil union, would you give a gift?”
“I suppose I would.”
“But civil union wasn’t an option, was it?”
“So what do you think?”
“I suppose I ought to give a gift.”
As someone who works with words, I have to confess that the word “marriage” and, to a larger degree, “husband” and “wife” don’t seem right for homosexual couples. Not that the relationship isn’t as valid; I think we need a new vocabulary. These are very heterosexual terms, and I’m not so crazy about the connotation of property and ownership inherent in those words anyhow (husband deriving from “master” and wife simply meaning “woman,” because what is a woman but a wife?). Still, even if I don’t like the vocabulary, with no better solution available, I would not want semantics to prevent homosexuals from having legal marital rights.
One obvious solution is to allow gays to have civil unions, giving them the same legal benefits as any heterosexual couples. But in Massachusetts and again in Connecticut, this has been deemed discriminatory; if heterosexual couples have the right to a state marriage, it’s discriminatory to offer gay couples something different or lesser.
So what’s my solution? Eliminate all state marriage. States offer only civil unions, to all couples, heterosexual and homosexual. Marriage, a crazy thing anyway, stays in the religious realm where it belongs. So go ahead and define marriage as being between a man and woman…what does it matter when everyone gets the same legal right to a civil union?
Then we’re back to the matter of semantics. Are we civilized? Unionized? We can always work that out later.
But that’s my solution: marriage is out, civil unions in…for everyone.
Next Friday, I’ll continue this thread with my thoughts on marriage, evolution, and the notion of humans mating for life. Monday, of course, another Sex in the Suburbs post—the subject of which is as much a mystery to me as it is to you at this writing—and we’ll see what needs to be said on Wednesday. Remind me it was something about connecting with old friends, which has really been a fascinating topic for me of late.
Until then, have a great weekend, and I do thank you for reading.