Sunday, December 7, 2008

Civil Unions for All, Marriage for No One

Last November when I was still living in Canada, I was invited to share an idea in an Open Public Forum sponsored by the Seattle Commission for Sexual Minorities. This idea wasn't originally mine, but from a logical and a fairness point of view makes a lot of sense to me. It seems the whole gay marriage issue boils down to gays wanting equal benefits, and straights not wanting their concept of marriage changed/corrupted/diluted.

In a nutshell: instead of the government issuing marriage licenses to only hetero couples, moving forward they would only issue civil unions to all couples. These civil unions would have the exact same rights, benefits and responsibilities that current marriage licenses currently have.

Here is a write up of the idea and the logic behind it:
1) Have the government issue civil unions to EVERYONE and marriage licenses to NO ONE.

2) These civil unions carry with them the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as what is currently referred to as a legal marriage, and are offered to couples regardless of sexual orientation.

3) Churches can marry who they choose, according to their beliefs. As a marriage is a spiritual matter, it should be between a couple & God (and through their church or officiant of choice) and have nothing to do with government.

Strengthens separation of church and state. I don't want my government dealing in matters of the spirit, that's what one's respective church/temple/reverend/pastor/guru/etc. is for.

Does not force any beliefs on any church. Churches would only marry couples that fit into their belief system. No church would be required by law to marry anyone they didn't want to. Unitarian churches and others can marry same sex couples as according to their beliefs.

Someone who belongs to a church that wouldn't marry same sex couples would not have to feel that the sanctity of their marriage would be threatened, because that marriage would not be tied to their church.

Is this answer too simple? I think it solves the sticky problem of semantics for everyone.


  1. Yes, Civil Unions for All, Marriage for No One. Your solution is simply the best for Lgbt's and Straights. Visit: when you are planning to wed.

  2. You are right, this is too simple. The problem is that your original premises, though intelligent, are wrong. The separatist, neofundamentalist Christians, Roman Catholics, and Jews, who make up about 90% of the population of the USA want marriage to be defined as one man with one woman,for purposes of procreation, period. They equate man-man, woman-woman relationships as more than just immoral, but abominations, like adult-child, and adult-animal, and all manner of polygamous relationships. It's not a matter of live and let live. They don't want their children being taught that homosexual unions should be considered normal, natural, or even tolerable. There is no doubt that the government should never have been involved in the licensing of marriages to begin with. Marriage licenses were used by 38 states in the 1920s to prohibit whites from marrying blacks, mulattos, Japanese, Chinese, Indians, Mongolians, Malays or Filipinos. Most required blood tests to assure whites that they were not inadvertently marrying a minority "passing" as white, back when ethnicity and racisim were in the forefront, the way homophobia is today.

  3. ds: I agree with you that the majority of the leaders of those churches feel the way you present. I'd wager that less of the followers feel that way. More to the point, most probably never gave it a lot of thought until it was presented to them by their religious leaders.

    However, the solution I propose enables the radical conservatives to continue to keep and embrace their hateful ways, and it wouldn't matter to gays in concrete terms. I never expect to be able to change another's opinion; but I would love to be able to help ensure that all are treated equally under the law.

    They can continue to feel that marriage should be the one man - one woman type for procreation only, and their church would never have to marry any other combination. It would officially be none of their fucking business (pardon the pun), as it would not directly threaten their church (yes, yes, I know... these churches will still pursue it, trying to change EVERYONE's mind, and not just their followers... that's the one insideous thing about most flavors of the judaeo-christian faith spectrum. But it will take the claws out of their argument, as well as help protect their beliefs from attacks from others)

    There's a lot of things that the government does that people disagree with. Civil unions that ensure equal benefits to all parties may be another one. But it would no longer be a religious issue.

    By the way, I didn't know the blood tests were about race, I always thought it was to check for STDs. Did they have accurate genetic testing back then? I've heard that even now it's hard to tell a person's race with genetic testing.