Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Marriage - What's in a name?

Lets start off controversially shall we?

The word marriage should have no place in legislation. All this first cousin marriage vs gay marriage vs human and dog marriage is completely bunk, and the fact that this issue has been tearing this country into such divisive factions should be a complete non issue, but alas, it is not.

The "protection of marriage" is a power play by anti gay proponents that smacks of ignorance and simple bad public policy. To me, the problem is the bandying of the word "marriage" in legislation, and the lack of rights given by civil unions in comparison. The sad fact is that with marriage so ingrained within law, that we find language itself obstructing public policy.

Marriage should be defined as strictly a social or religious construct, and civil unions elevated to the level that marriage currently affords. Marriage, in its newer, less empowering status could be given by churches, wiccans, judges or just trusted friends of suitable authority. And anyone who doesn't approve of another's relationship could simply resolve their own conflict by saying to themselves, well that's just some weird mumbo jumbo marriage, but whatever.

The word marriage itself should be struck from all legislation. Once this linguistic gymnastics takes place, no longer are anti gay marriage activists able to claim that affording gay couples the same legal rights is threatening marriage, unless they want to claim that now civil unions are now under attack.

Of course, perhaps I underestimate the maliciousness with which some people would refuse equality to people who are different, even with the protection of marriage off the table.


Mike said...

The "gay marriage threatens marriage" argument is so ridiculous.

If they truly believed that, they should instead focus their time and effort outlawing divorce, as it clearly is a much greater threat to the instition than gay marriage is.

Kyllikki said...

I agree that separating religious marriage from civil unions is a compromise that may allow everyone to live and let live. And while I like compromise, part of me feels that we’d be giving in to the fears of ignorant, fearful people, lending their arguments weight by taking them into account. Perhaps the answer does not lie in compromise, but in renewed dedication to doing the right thing by our gay friends and neighbors. We are a country that was built on a dream of freedom and real equality, and I can’t agree to compromise on that dream. I say let them marry.

Brian in the Write said...

Thanks Mike, that's a great point. I mean look at all those celebrity marriages which "undermine marriage" and that divorce rate.

Kyllikki, that's a really interesting view. I agree that a renewed dedication to doing right would be an excellent thing, but given the vast ocean of ignorance and opposition, wouldn't that then lead to a longer fight that keeps the benefits of "marriage" from gays and lesbians? To me, a speedier outcome is the better goal, but then again, it could be argued that increasing awareness would be a lot easier than taking an entire word out of legislation, as it has been traditionally protected there for so long.

JHP said...

Hi Brian,

You wrote: "The sad fact is that with marriage so ingrained within law, that we find language itself obstructing public policy."

Why do you suppose marriage is ingrained in the law? To help us understand whether or not it should be there now, we should understand why it was put there in the first place.

Also, I agree that the argument that same-sex marriage will harm opposite-sex marriage is not a very sound one. But in my understanding, traditional marriage advocates (ones who really know what they're talking about) don't make that argument very often. Their argument is mostly about giving children the best environment possible to be raised in and encouraging relationships that they believe are the most healthy/beneficial to society.

Thanks for sharing your opinion on this.


Brian in the Write said...

Here's a good counterargument to my argument, from Senator Baroni from NJ.