The solution to the gay marriage controversy(?)

Alright everyone, I think I found the answer to the whole controversy surrounding gay marriage. Get rid of marriage entirely! After all, heterosexual marriage has been a joke for the past 50+ years (over 50% of marriages ending in divorce? C’mon, if that’s not screwed up…) and all that homosexuals want is to be called “married” rather than “civil-united” so that they don’t feel like they are being segregated.

So why not just change every reference to marriage on the public books to “civil union,” or something similar, for heterosexuals, homosexuals, asexuals, everyone. Homosexuals get what they want (equality), and heterosexuals have done such a good job screwing up marriage that they don’t really deserve it anymore anyways.

This isn’t to say that no one can call themselves “married” anymore. Let the religious folk keep the word, let the churches (and other religious organizations) marry people. I know that as a religious person, I would want to enter into marriage with a woman, not a civil union. But for legal purposes, I don’t see the problem with calling it a civil union regardless of the sex of those involved.


I completely agree. As long as the religious-types can still have their weddings and what-have-you, I honestly think that this wold work.

Why should I have to change the words I use because other people are intolerant? Screw that.

What you’re basically proposing is lowering the bar. I don’t see how anybody will be satisfied with that.

Why is it screwed up? What standard of marriage-lastingness do we need?

I basically agree that marriage in the US is f*ct as a social institution, but as a legal institution its tendrils extend throughout the legal forest. Tax law, immigration law–all those policies would have to be rethought.

But they need to be rethought anyway, so let’s get started. I vote for domestic partnerships whose elements are freely determinable by the partners (within reason). That is, gay marriage yes, polyamory yes, asexual partnerships yes, everything within reason yes.

Just FYI, we’ve been thru this a bunch of times in the last year or so. Many people here will agree with you. Join, and you can search the threads and see how much has already been written along these lines.

Think hard, Mike. Do you really want to join a board where everyone agrees with you?

Take your time over your decision and ask for evidence first.

That’s my whole point. You don’t have to change the words you use. Call it marriage, call it civil union, call it Marley23’s Las Vegas Adventure. My point is that it all basically means the same thing, so why not go with the term that can be applied to everybody, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, gender, species (if it ever gets that far) etc.? Let people decide for themselves if they want to call their union “marriage” and assume for themselves any responsibilities that they personally feel accompanies such a union.

And regarding marriage being a farce in America today, what is your definition of a successful marriage? 1 year, 5 years, having children, financial stability? I always understood marriage as being (in theory) a lifelong commitment, but over 50% of marriages in this country end in divorce (many of those after very little time or effort to overcome difficulties), oftentimes at the expense of children.

You’re proposing that we just change what the word is called in the law books? I don’t think that will resolve the issue. Overall I don’t think too many people will overlook the fact that it’s just gay marriage with a different name- even less if you eliminate the regular kind of marriage.

On what basis do you make this assertion?

My opinion on marriage today is basically this: marriage can end in only two ways, divorce or death. If a larger number of unhappy marriages are ending, I don’t see that an an intrinsic wrong. If people are divorcing without giving it a real shot, yes, that’s unfortunate. But I don’t know how often that happens and I’m not sure how you’d rate it.

No it wouldn’t. My wife and I are married - by a judge. This proposal would say we’re not married. F*** that.

Right, that’s sort of where I was trying to go. I plan to get married by a Justice of the Peace - I’m an atheist and I sure won’t have a religious ceremony. I still don’t think I need to sacrifice to other people’s intolerance.

Seconded. The main reasons we want gay marriage is for legal standing - hospital visitation, legal recognition, etc. Without it, many rights that most people have with long-term sexual partners are denied (without going through a lot of expensive legal legwork, at least)

While I like your proposal, we’re talking about very basic level social (and legal) engineering. If you can pull THAT off, there’s a few other things I’d like to throw into (or take out of) the pot. :wink:

I don’t agree that there’s social engineering going on. The government could just say that the concept of “marriage” is something that is up to individuals - you want to call yourself married, go ahead. You want your church to declare it for you? Fine.

But if you want rights of survivorship, community property, etc., that set of legal things that now goes along with marriage, fill out this paperwork, and the government will grant it, and call it a “civil union.” It’s different from a marriage, which is a social concept, this is a purely legal agreement between two adults.

Most people who want to commit their relationship will fill out the government paperwork and supplement it with a social ceremony, just like they do now. They can still call themselves married, and if they so desire, declare that homosexuals are not really “married.”

Everyone gets what he wants. The religious right can have the satisfaction of knowing that the government is not declaring homosexuals to be married. Homosexuals can call themselves married if they want, and will have a legal avenue for financial arrangements that they need. What could anyone object to?

Aside from pissing off everyone in America who wakes up one day and finds that there marriage is no longer, legally, a marriage, but instead has some lesser term, I don’t like the notion of ceding the word “marriage” to the religious fanatics.

Religion, nor Christianity in particular, has no special claim to the word “marriage.” It is as much mine as it is theirs, and I see nothing good that can come from giving in to them on this matter (in the long run – in the short term, I’ll take my civil union and be quiet, thank you Mr. Kerry, sir!)

This is one of those things that seems like a reasonable compromise on the surface, but is actually the worst possible thing that could happen. It doesn’t help either side, at all.

For the people who speak out against gay marriages, this is exactly what they fear the most and what they’re using as justification for their opposition. They claim that homosexuals are trying to undermine the institution of marriage. That argument has absolutely no merit, and proposing to alter legal marriage for heterosexuals only serves to make the argument sound as if it does have merit. And if something like this ever did come about, it would just increase hatred of homosexuals, from people who’d say stuff like “look what you did to one of our most sacred institutions. This is why we can’t have nice things.”

For homosexuals who want to get married, this is a cop-out that just further reinforces second-class citizenship status. In effect, it’s saying, “Okay, okay, whatever. Here are all your legal entitlements. Just don’t try to call it a ‘marriage,’ because homosexual relationships aren’t as valid as heterosexual ones.” The issue is only partly about legal rights; it’s about social policy and social perception, trying to get homosexual relationships recognized as every bit as valid as hetero ones.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: fighting for gay marriage is actually a very conservative platform. It reinforces the institution of marriage as something important and something worth having. It says that 99% of societal structure is working out pretty okay so far; we don’t want to change it, we just want to be able to be part of it.

I apologise for my intemperate language in my previous post. I went away to cool down. Now that I’m back, I’ll try to explain myself a bit better.

I am getting sick and tired of people who want to “solve” the gay marriage “problem” by saying I’m not married to the Beloved. We are married, and I will oppose any attempt by social engineers to say that we are not, simply because we chose to be married by a judge.

Moreover, I agree entirely with those who say that marriage is an important social institution. Where I part company is where they say, implicitly, that marriage is the exclusive prerogative of the church/synagogue/mosque, and that religious organisations should have the exclusive right to decide who is married, and to tell me that I’m not married.

There’s a lot of strands in this marriage thing, and different people emphasise different aspects of it. There can be a religious aspect. There is almost always a civil, legal aspect to it. And there is the deeply personal relationship between the two people involved. Saying that only the religious aspect is what “marriage” is about is simply wrong.

Further, I don’t agree with people who say that the state has no role to play, and that it should all be left to private contract. The thing is, there’s a fundamental difference between a marriage and other types of contract. The normal rule is that a private contract only binds the parties to it; it’s not good against all the world, and it doesn’t bind others, as a general rule.

A marriage contract isn’t like other types of private contract. A marriage contract has legal effect; it creates a status that is recognised in law, and which does in fact bind the world, in that marriage gives rights that other people (e.g. - hospitals) have to respect. If the state abolishes the civil aspects of marriage, then it becomes a free for all, with no clear rights for anyone, even with respect to one’s own partner.

Right now, the civil aspects of marriage are a bundle of legal rights offered by the state. No private contract can come close to providing that entire bundle. And a couple can access that bundle of legal rights by a simple, easily understood contract.

Marriage has survived as a civil, legal institution because it has advantages that private contract can’t provide. It also survives because there are individuals who, for whatever personal reasons, do not want a religious wedding. Doing away with marriage as a civil, legal institution, and taking it away from those who do not want a religious ceremony, is a far greater upheaval, in my opinion, than expanding it to include gays and lesbians who want legal recognition of their deep personal committment to each other.

I don’t buy this argument, although I am for gay marriage. Making something legal won’t change much how people think–at least not in the short term. I think the more important aspect is granting people the legal rights.

Sorry, though: you’re going to have to let in us poly people, too. :slight_smile:

This argument certainly seems like a lot of unnecessary effort. All we have to do is remove the silly laws that states have recently enacted, and let gay people marry. You want a solution? Nothing easier than that. On the other hand, to not offend some bigots, we should rewrite every freaking law that has the word marriage in it, on a state and federal level, including reprinting of all documents and forms? Someone’s trying to reinvent the wheel.

Using this logic, civil rights would have been achieved by removing all of the seats from the front of the bus. Isn’t it easier to just say “You can sit anywhere you’d like, as long as someone else isn’t already occupying that particular seat?”

I do think SolGrundy is right on it, though, if one takes ‘conservative’ at its more literal meaning rather than its ideological one.

Marriage is an ancient social institution; one of its purposes is to declare the existence of a familial relationship between people in a way construed as binding by the surrounding culture.

In the current situation, we have people who have familial relationships who are able to have them registered as binding and people who do not have the ability to render their existing familial relationships binding according to local culture. This distinctly weakens the practice that is supposed to establish those relationships: people have those relationships without going through the ritual. Other people see the dichotomy and decide that the ritual is valueless, because it doesn’t establish those relationships, or because it discriminates. (I know a lot of such people, this isn’t a hypothetical.)

The net result is that the idea that these relationships can be enacted without the participation of the larger community takes hold in various ways; the ritual enactment of that participation is dismissed by those people who have decided that it’s valueless or degrading of itself.

The meaning of the ritual cannot be maintained – I’m pretty sure that ‘preserving the meaning of marriage’ can be readily accepted as a conservative position – when people consider it superfluous, discardable, or worse, an active negative. The existence of relationships that are equivalent to marriage that cannot go through the ritual promotes the idea that the ritual itself is at best superfluous, at worst a degenerate legacy of a prejudicial past.

So there are two ways of preserving the meaningfulness of this particular ritual: modifying the ritual so that it encompasses the relationships that people are forming, or preventing non-conforming relationships from forming in the first place.

Can’t we keep anything sacred anymore? Is there anything so inherently wrong with keeping marriage between a man and a woman while still aloting CU’s all the rights that a married couple has?

I have no problem if you want to keep marriage “sacred”. Sacred, from the same root as sacrement, refers to Church matters, within the judgement and proscription of each particular Church. I would not presume to tell either the Pope or anyother religious leader what is sacred or profane. All I ask in return is for them to stop trying to decide what is legal or illegal.