Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Word Can Make a Difference

       There is turmoil in our society as the result of a small vocal minority imposing its will upon the majority by insisting that same-sex unions be accepted as 'marriage'.  For most people the objection is not about allowing gay couples equal rights under the law, but rather about changing the nature and meaning of marriage.

       I am neither anti-gay nor homophobic, but I take issue with the drive to legalize same-sex unions as marriage.  As far back as history reaches, the permanent union of a man and a woman has been given special regard by name and ceremony--we've known it as marriage.  It is the foundation of social order and the bond that creates and supports new life, the next generation.  I don't suggest that birthing and raising children are the only functions of marriage, but I do maintain it is its most fundamental purpose and for that reason marriage has acquired prominence in every society, is celebrated with joy and ritual, and regarded was a sacrament in many religions.  Even if one is not religious, one can still recognize that throughout time, humanity/society has 'sacralized' marriage as a dedicated state between a man and a woman and worthy of special respect.

       Could not the polarization around this issue be mitigated were same-sex unions to be identified by new terminology which incorporates all legal right of partnership and inheritance?  Such terms as 'life-partner' or 'confirmed bond' already exist; or creative minds could devise an identifiable new legal category to cover same-sex partnerships with the inclusive rights afforded marriage.

       I point to another family-centered legal category that is "same but different".  When a couple welcomes into their life a child to whom they did not give birth, the child is adopted through a legal process giving them permanent status in the family unit.  By law that status carries the same rights as a birth child.  In creating such an identifiable legal category for same-sex partnering (other than 'marriage') which guarantees legal rights, we give acknowledgement to the newly-emerging social change without altering the historical uniqueness of the institution of marriage.  I contend that changing the nature and meaning of the time-honored universal institution of marriage is unwise, damaging, unjust and unreasonable.

1 comment:

  1. My opinion:
    Marriage is a term that means to join one person/place/thing to another. When I finished my basement, I hired someone to “marry” the carpet tiles to the vinyl floor covering. I used that very word when I hired him. He knew exactly what I meant. I needed to join two things together.

    Word meanings change all the time. Not always for the better. However, Shakespeare probably said it best:

    “What's in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet”

    What if he had said: What’s in a name? that which we call marriage, by any other name would still be the joining of one to another

    I am a former member of the traditional institution of marriage, and know only too well, that being in a marriage does not insure love. For many years now, what we would have called the traditional behavior within a marriage has changed. I believe it’s time to re-define the word “marriage” to reflect its newer, broader meanings.

    If two people of the same sex can find that much love (for the moment) that they want to legalize their commitment, I’m all for it (as you are, also). I don’t care what the joining is called. I do care that these two people love each other and will care for each other “until death do they part.” I have no problem in calling the joining of people, places or things a “marriage.”

    You and I have always respected each other’s opinions. I’m sure we will approach this subject again at some point in the future.

    Like I said in the beginning, my opinion. (smile)