Thursday, February 26, 2004

Constitutional Crisis

Here are my two cents about Gay Marriage.
I think that the government should get out of the marriage business. If it won't do that, then it should grant the license to any group of people willing to accept the financial and other responsibilities (i.e. willing to sign the form). They could be straight, gay, poly, whatever, so long as they are competent to sign contracts they are fine in my book.
If the government simply got out of the marriage business what would happen? Religions would be free to be as prejudiced or open as they wanted and to grant marriages however they want. I've seen more than one couple (hetro) leave their churches because the church's attitude to their marriage. If the churches want to chase people out, good. They probably shouldn't be there in the first place.

The government needn't make civil unions either. Much of our population is single, being married hasn't proved itself to be the great stabilizing force it is all cracked up to be. How many of the 'defense of marriage' supporters are themselves divorced? As a married person, my marriage is an arrangement between my wife and me, I could not care less whether the government recoginzes it. (But.. see below*) Sure this would require revising our rules about dependents, about hospital visitation, about legal proxies, etc.. But those are probably in need of revising. Why should a single person be left alone and dying in a hospital simply because she has no (blooded) family? Why can't two friends share responsibility for their debts.

Marriage seems to me to be deeply personal thing, and as a rule, the government isn't very good at dealing with very personal things. I felt frustrated that in NC I could only be married either by a priest, or by a judge. We bypassed that by means of a loop hole. That seems to me a problem with the system. Our laws ought to make sense, and where they don't they ought to be changed. Ideally, the government would not bless or reject marriages any more than it blessed any other relationship, friendship, lover, whatever.

* Okay here is the thing. There is a sense in which society ought to promote same sex marriages. It needs to affirm and embrace a group of people we've long denied, rejected and abused. When being gay is considered provocation for violence in our courts, when people feel threatened by the mere existence of happy people different from them, when gays, lesbians, transgendered and others need to be afraid to admit who they are, who or how they love, something is really amiss. Accepting same-sex marriage is a way of saying "welcome back!" It is a symbolic gesture that has considerable merit.

Of course, if all this does in fact result in a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, it will strike a blow against the progress made by these groups that might be difficult to recover from. It will also lend and air of legitimacy to the hatred and violence against gays, lesbians and transgendered. I also fear, this sort of move may be the issue that gets the 'voting center' to ignore the many problems in the world and vote to keep this administration in office. I wish I could be more optimistic, maybe when people see that the President is promoting an amendment to a constitution designed to protect the rights of the minority to official discriminate against a a group of endangered people. But I am not hopeful.


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