Let's look at another traditional practice, and see if it holds up...
The church is traditionally against "gay marriage" in any way, shape or form. Traditional values rule the day. Is it time to re-think this opposition? What reason might there be for a change of attitude about this?
What is the interest of the state in the institution of marriage, or civil union? Here's the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States -
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Three phrases jump out at me immediately in this context. The first is "establish Justice." The second is "insure domestic Tranquility." And the third phrase is "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Let's examine each in turn.
The first interest of the state, it seems to me, that pertains to the union of two people in a legally recognized relationship, is to establish a just arrangement for uniting people in this unions. Justice requires no favoritism or discrimination; everyone is equal before the law. It would seem that justice, at face value, requires that legally sanctioned unions permit both heterosexual and homosexual couples to bond equivalently.
The second interest of the state in my view is insuring domestic tranquility. This "domestic peace" involves more than peace in the home; it applies to peace within the borders of the entire United States of America. Legally recognized unions of willing adults must further the interest of the state in maintaining a peaceful society. The contentiousness that the whole "gay-marriage" issue embodies, does not further domestic tranquility. Instead, it illustrates how an entire segment of the population is being kept from something that another segment has enjoyed for centuries. The injustice is openly on display, for everyone to see.
Finally, the phrase about securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and future generations should be easy to figure out. Liberty would allow homosexual couples to unite in a life-partnership, and have the same legal rights, of property ownership, of inheritance, of power of attorney, everything, that heterosexual couples have taken for granted for generations.
Here's the bottom line - as far as the interests of the state are concerned, allowing homosexual couples to exist with full legal rights is not only just, not only conducive to the general tranquility of our society, but also in keeping with the very spirit of this country since its founding. That's the interest of the state. You'll notice I did not mention anything about furthering any religious agenda or belief.
That was very deliberate. What I'm going to propose will probably strike many people as too much, but it allows the partnership of two individuals in this country without any care for their sexual orientation.
I think that the state, Federal, State, and Local, should abolish Marriage Licenses. Instead, there would be nationally recognized "civil union" or "life partner" licenses. These would be free of any religious connotations, and would simply give a legal recognition of the intention of two people to make a lifetime commitment to each other in a durable relationship. It would free the entire issue from the stigma that attaches to it now, because it would not use the term "marriage."
In fact, this new "license" would replace marriage licenses. Any couple, heterosexual or homosexual, would procure one of these licenses if they wanted a legally recognized union. Couples that chose to co-habit and not commit to this durable relationship would do what they do now, live with each other and have no binding commitment to each other. No legal rights would accrue to them either. I suppose that common-law status could be continued, but it would have to expand to include homosexual couples as well, if that seemed good to the various legislatures.
What of the institution of marriage? I'm not proposing that it be abolished, only the licensing of such a union for couples of a certain sexual orientation. Marriage would revert to what it should be, a covenant relationship sanctioned by religious bodies, according to the beliefs of those faith communities. If a church, for instance, absolutely refused to recognize homosexual unions, no problem. They would not perform wedding ceremonies for such couples. Another church might feel more accommodating, and so they would perform such ceremonies. This preserves the freedom of religious communities to be true to their beliefs and promote and advocate for those values. For those so inclined, freedom of religion is maintained, and for others, freedom from religion is recognized.
Is this idea too radical? Why? California's Proposition 8 was recently struck down. Other states have allowed such unions to exist, with full protection under the laws of those states. I think it's time that we allow life-partnerships to exist for all Americans, and move on to matters that truly threaten us.
I welcome comments on this article. Please keep them on-topic. Comments are moderated.