Friday, December 12, 2008

Oppose Gay Marriage, but Approve Civil Unions?

This was a question I first asked on at this conservative blog, but got no replies (as of this post, almost 24 hours later, anyway... Hopes still run high.)

Putting the terms "marriage" & "civil union" aside for a second, the question is, what rights & privileges would you grant to homosexual couples who choose to enter a legal "relationship," and what rights/privileges would you withhold from them?

In other words, under federal, state, & local law, how should the legal "relationship" between homosexuals differ from the legal "relationship" between heterosexuals, regardless of what our government or we, the people, call either relationship?

I ask because several people at the blog linked above & elsewhere have said they believe civil unions for gays are alright, but gay marriage is not. (As anyone who's read much of what I've written on the subject knows, I'd agree, were marriage used strictly as the term of religion it was meant to be, rather than as a term of US law.)

In the wake of a Newsweek poll that said 31% of the respondents support full marriage rights for same-sex couples (as opposed to support for civil unions or partnerships for same-sex couples, but not full marriage rights (32%) or opposition to any legal recognition for same-sex couples (30%)), the author of the blog linked above has been using the term "full-blown same-sex marriage rights." However, he's also spoken approvingly of "full civil equality for gay Americans," and I'm trying to figure out what the differences are between "full blown marriage rights" (for everyone) & "full civil equality," because I don't believe there are any....

I'm not asking for the religious reasons for opposing gay marriage. If your religion teaches you that homosexuality is a sin, that's your belief, and I'm fine with your believing that--and trying to persuade others to feel the same, even (though I don't think your beliefs should have any weight in US law, unless there is also a secular reason to do so... We are not a theocracy.) But as a matter of US law, how should "marriage" differ from "civil union?" How do we recognize the "full civil equality" of gay people--in fact, of ALL people--without recognizing the same "full blown marriage rights" for them that we do for everyone else?

Anyone care to explain it to me?


Nerva said...

Perhaps the best way to answer the question is to suggest that one looks at the legislation in two other English-speaking countries where same sex couples enjoy legal "endorsement" of their committed relationships, with neither countries using the "marriage" word.

In the UK, a same-sex couple can register a Civil Partnership, while in New Zealand it is called a Civil Union.

Both are civil marriages in all but name. All the rights, and for that matter the responsibilities, enjoyed by a heterosexual couple who go through a civil marriage are enjoyed by homosexual couples - taxation rights, inheritance rights, hospital visistation rights, and so on.

No one in either New Zealand or the UK got hung up with the fact that it was not "marriage" by name. The rights are there, so there is equality in all but name.

Alas, in the USA, there is a hang-up that unless a legal same-sex relationship is called "marriage", it is not equality! So do not expect any equality in the forseeable future in USA.

I challenge all those who laugh at the legisltation in New Zealand and UK which has been in place for same sex couples for three years to publicly state which homosexual couples have equality.

Is it the same-sex couples in Massachusetts or Connecticut who can get married, but receive not federal recognition ... or those in New Zealand and the UK where their unions/partnerships are fully recognised at all levels of government (national and local)?

President-elect Obama is on the record that he wants to introduce civil unions. Take what is offered, I suggest to Americans. Does anyone really care whether it is called a "marriage" or a "union" as long as all rights enjoyed by heterosexual civil marriage are, without exception, included.

One final point, the only difference between a civil partnership and a civil marriage in the UK is that a civil partnership cannot be registered in "a place of worship".


repsac3 said...

Nerva: Thank you for being the first to reply, and for enlightening me (& probably others) about the situation in the UK & New Zealand. I confess to not knowing about either, and I look forward to exploring what is (or isn't) working there...

Alas, in the USA, there is a hang-up that unless a legal same-sex relationship is called "marriage", it is not equality! So do not expect any equality in the forseeable future in USA.

I really don't get the feeling that homosexuals here are looking for the name (or the respect/acceptance that comes with it), so much as they are looking for the equality, and because the laws that bestow the rights & privileges to "united" couples are all written with the word "married" in them, fighting for "marriage" is shorthand for fighting for those rights. I could be wrong, but I think most gay folks would be just as happy to see laws rewritten to add the words "civil union" as they would be to receive the legal title of marriage bestowed upon their union.... I really believe they are looking for the equality, rather than the name...

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Repsac, as I predicted, Donald Douglas has decompensated to the point of engaging in online harassment. I left a harshly worded comment at his site threatening a legal response.

I intend to contact two persons at Long Beach Community College, where DD works, if he harasses my writers one more time: Eloy Oakley, and Donald Berz.

Douglas is messing with the wrong person.

Donald Douglas said...

Repsac3: (O)CT(O)PUS is all talk. He can go right ahead and contact my college. I couldn't care less. I've commented multiple times at his blogs since his big chest-thumping tirade, mostly to wish him well. I sent him this Christmas greeting for example:

"(O)CT(O)PUS ...

I see pain and torment in your post. So, on this day I wish safety and goodness to you and yours. Merry Christmas and peace on earth."

Your friend (O)CT(O)PUS is full of hate, not to mention self-aggrandizement. I'm not surprised you're a co-blogger over there, of course. For all of your calls to post-partisanship and Obama-worship, it's all a bunch of baloney.

repsac3 said...

Donald, I just couldn't care less what you think about me, Octo, the world, or much of anything else.

You're a self-important bully who has illusions that you're actually accomplishing anything in your little echo chamber, and I've just got no time for you & your inane ramblings about all the individual bloggers & groups of people you dislike... The nutjobs you attract at your blog cured me of any notion that you are a man of reason or intellect. You're just a guy who needs to lash out at others in an effort to build yourself up, no realizing that every comment about "them" makes "you" appear even smaller.

That said, I hope the new year brings you the wisdom & respect for others unlike yourself with which most of us are born.

Please don't come back here to comment unless you have something to say on the subject of the post...

Donald Douglas said...

Well, the subject of the post is, hmm, me, so I think you can cut me some slack. Besides, you've got an active comment thread going here, and I missed the rule posted on your blog prohibiting trailing comment discourses.

In any case, I do love your little Obama-culty flourish: "I hope the new year brings you the wisdom & respect for others unlike yourself with which most of us are born." That's classic, Reppy! A quote from McCain's concession speech would have made it better, but I'll give you high marks!

Also, if this comment makes you mad, feel free to contact my college's administration. I don't mind at all, especially since you've got a half dozen blog post at least in which I'm the focus. They might be thrilled that I've got such fans in the blogosphere!

Happy New Year!

rockync said...

repsac - I'm a little late to this party, but Nerva's comment got me thinking about an American compromise - why not change the legal language so that EVERY union is referred to as a Civil Union and then let the churches hand out separate "marriage" certificates.
Personally, I've been married for over 30 years and I've known a few same sex couples and their relationship in no way diminishes mine nor does it interfere with my life.

repsac3 said...

That's the solution I'm selling, Rocky...

To my way of thinkin', "marriage" is a sacred rite performed in one's house of worship by a celebrant of one's faith. "Civil union" is a legal contract between two individuals & the state. While I would never want to see all civil unions recognized as marriages by religious institutions--I believe that we all have the right to worship (or don't) as we see fit, and that it is up to God & the church to set religious doctrine, as unencumbered as possible by state law--I do think that all marriages can be recognized as civil unions by the state, and that the term "civil union" ought to replace the term "marriage" in every law throughout the land.

The government has no place setting church doctrine, but the church has no place determining secular law, either... The minute we Americans allowed a sacred rite to be written into US law, we set the stage for trouble.