Saturday, May 31, 2014

More on 'A Word'

       The intention of my previous post was to propose that a new legal term be used to formally define the union between same-sex couples.  As homosexuality became openly acceptable within contemporary society, gay couples sought legal status to enable them the rights and privileges of married couples (i.e. joint tax status, inheritance rights, family privileges when hospitalized, etc.) that seems clearly defensible yet there is strong opposition.  I contend the same-sex union needs its own identification.  As I see it, the problem has arisen from choosing to define the union as marriage and altering that time-honored institution.  Throughout human history there has been universal understanding that marriage is a permanent union between a man and a woman.  It is the foundation upon which family is built.  Not all marriages are ideal, and children are born out of wedlock but the concept of marriage is fundamental to social order.  It is through marriage we trace lineage, identify ancestors, and pursue genealogy.

       A respondent to my post said marriage is "just a word" that means join something together (yes, a word has more than one meaning) . . . and quoted that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet . . . But this is not changing the name of a rose, it is calling another flower by the rose's name!  My argument is not about "just a word", it is about changing a time-honored institution.  A homosexual union IS different from a heterosexual one, just as adopting a child is different than birthing one--but become equal in the eyes of the law.

       I suggest legalizing another term for the formal bond of same-sex couples (such as life-partners or whatever unique term is favored) and change the law to include that term rather than change our understanding of marriage.

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.