Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My two cents on gay marriage

By Heraclitus

Following on Michael's post yesterday: Separation of Church and State is a nice slogan, but as long as the government is pronouncing on what constitutes marriage, we don't have it. The solution seems to me to be to have a complete separation between marriage, which should be completely private, and civil unions, which should be the public, government-sanctioned contract that carries with it all the rights and such that marriage currently does in most places. The civil unions, of course, should be available to all, gay and straight (though, I at least would say, not polygamists), while each church or other group can decide what constitutes marriage in its own community (although, again, you might want to outlaw polygamy, child marriage, etc.).

This would defuse most of the right's arguments against gay marriage, and also force them to start arguing in favor of greater government control of people's lives (which may even become a wedge issue breaking up part of the current GOP voting bloc). I know they're already arguing for that, but the ambiguity of our current legal concept of "marriage" helps hide the fact, and make them look they're trying to preserve something rather than expand the reach of the government (and, again, they're really not--the government is already someplace it shouldn't be). It would also answer whatever genuine fears some religious people may have about the government dictating the nature of marriage to them, as religions (e.g., forcing the Catholic Church to perform gay Catholic marriages). I think it would also appeal to the moderates in the country, who don't want to offend the sensibilities of religious conservatives, but who also don't want to see the state used to demean or restrict the choices of other people.

But, of course, for this to work, the Democrats would have to be something more than a half-assed, watered-down version of the Republican Party.

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