We owe thanks to gay marriage supporter Jonathan Rausch and gay marriage opponent David Blankenhorn, the joint authors of a widely circulated New York Times piece which steered the polarized dialogue toward more civil waters.
While the Rausch/Blankenhorn proposal had some merit, in the end it leaves homosexuals with a lesser version of "marriage." While they get most of the rights and privileges as heterosexual folks, their relationship gets a different name, lest anyone think they're in a "real" marriage.
Sam Singer offers another proposal, one that is being discussed by a few more people everyday... Rather than fighting over whether or not to allow homosexuals to use the term "Marriage," why doesn't the state stop using the term "marriage" in laws designed to grant rights and privileges to anyone, and instead base the granting of rights and privileges on the term "civil union," or "domestic partnership"?
If it’s a grand bargain we’re after, consider an alternative federal law prohibiting states from attaching legal significance to an individual’s marital status. The law would define “marital status” narrowly to include an individual’s relationship with a significant other as recognized by a religious organization. Likewise, the law would define “marriage” as the spiritual union of two individuals. Under this regime, legal benefits or obligations which traditionally flow from marital status would do so no longer. Instead, states could recognize and regulate healthy, stable interpersonal relationships by way of civil union, provided they do so equally and on a secular basis. Left for churches and other religious organizations are the religious and moral dimensions of “marriage.” Religious organizations will have autonomy over those aspects of matrimony in which they claim historical or divine province. That is, churches would be left to govern the sacred principles associated with the institution, and to ordain whichever marriages they see fit without fear of legal repercussion.
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