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The Great Divorce
March 14, 2009 3:24 PM   Subscribe

A new California proposition attempts to neutralize Prop 8 by substituting "domestic partnership" for "marriage" in state laws, thus leaving marriage to the Mormons and other interested parties. Getting the government out of marriage entirely has been proposed countless times before. (Previously: 1, 2, 3, 4)
posted by benzenedream (142 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is exactly right. Marriage is a sacrament in Christian churches and has religious connotations in other faiths. The only interest of the state should be to register domestic partnerships for purposes of taxation, inheritance, and other legal issues. Anyone interested in marriage is perfectly free to turn to the religious institution of their choice, or, for that matter, just to tag themselves as married. Problem solved.
posted by beagle at 3:29 PM on March 14, 2009 [17 favorites]


But, the people behind that proposition seriously need a better webmaster.
posted by beagle at 3:31 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think that, politically speaking, this ship might have sailed. That is, gays will always regard this move with suspicion as a kind of "separate but equal" solution in disguise. I think if it had been adopted about six or seven years ago, it might have been the best way forward. It assuages those who, for whatever reason, feel that the word "marriage" is in some way sacred and are therefore loathe to see the state offer endorsements of "marriages" that they find offensive. But in fact, it allows everyone to enjoy the same rights, duties and benefits that are currently conferred by "marriage" without making any distinction between gay and straight couples.

Of course, once the law was in place, the word "marriage" would continue to be used in all but technical and legal documents to describe gay and straight unions without distinction. No doubt some religious conservatives would make a big point of only referring to people as "married" if they had been married in a church, but they'd be free to do that regardless of the legal state of a gay couple's marriage. And very shortly the entire matter would fade into insignificance. No doubt people would soon forget why the term "civil union" ever came to replace the word "marriage" in California law in the first place.

There is one objection which I've heard advanced that seems to me without merit. That is, that Federal Law applies to "marriage" and not to "civil unions" and that therefore this would somehow place gay couples at a disadvantage in terms of pressing their case for marriage recognition at a Federal level. I think this misses the mark in two ways. First, there are already gay married couples whose marriages conform perfectly with State law, and yet the Feds do not feel bound to recognize those marriages. Therefore the question of Federal recognition of gay marriage is obviously separate from the question of terminology. Secondly, once every married couple in the state of California is referred to in State legislation as a "Civil Union" it is absurd to think that the Feds will simply choose to regard California as a State without any married couples. My guess is that the matter will be handled at a simple regulatory level, that the appropriate departments and agencies will simply be instructed to regard the term "civil union" as equivalent to "marriage" for all purposes of Federal law.
posted by yoink at 3:40 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think that, politically speaking, this ship might have sailed. That is, gays will always regard this move with suspicion as a kind of "separate but equal" solution in disguise.

Well, I can't speak for the gays of California, but I would be quite happy with such an arrangement even on a symbolic sense, exactly because it makes gay partnerships equal to straight ones -- they're all "domestic partnerships" -- rather than having 'marriages' for straights and equivalent, but separate 'civil unions' for gays (although personally, I'd be happy with the latter as well, at least as a halfway step to getting the religious definition of "marriage" out of government for good).
posted by Drexen at 3:51 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I can't speak for the gays of California, but I would be quite happy with such an arrangement

I'd be happy to be proven wrong (because I think if the Anti Prop 8 crowd really got in behind this it would pass, and pass convincingly)--but the only people I've heard commenting on this from the No on Prop 8 movement have been strongly negative.
posted by yoink at 3:58 PM on March 14, 2009


I support this initiative. But the following sentence (fragment) is offensive in so many ways that I scarcely know where to begin:

"The purpose of which is to provide equality amongst all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, without offending the religious sect."

OK, let's start with the picayune. This is not a sentence; it is a sentence fragment. And "amongst?" Sheesh.

Now, more substantively. "[W]ithout offending THE religious SECT" (emphasis added). Really, which ONE religious "sect" would that be? Mormonism, possibly, given the history of Prop. 8. But many other religions take offense at gay marriage. The basic lack of consideration expressed in a stupid sentence like the above-quoted just shows that narrow-minded bigotry is not the sole province of religious people (or "the religious sect"). It would have been so simple to draft this sentence in a way that would have avoided deeply offending almost anyone who reads it. What legislator would support such a statement? Who was advising these people?
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 3:58 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think that, politically speaking, this ship might have sailed. That is, gays will always regard this move with suspicion as a kind of "separate but equal" solution in disguise.

How can it be separate but equal if it's not actually separate that is, gay and straight marriages would be exactly the same under the law.

I think they ought to call them "civil unions" rather then "domestic partnerships" though, the second sounds to antiseptic.
posted by delmoi at 3:59 PM on March 14, 2009


I like this idea; it pushes religion just a little further away from government, and that's a good thing.
posted by jamstigator at 4:04 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


How can it be separate but equal if it's not actually separate that is, gay and straight marriages would be exactly the same under the law.

The commentators I heard seemed to have at least two concerns. One was that most straight couples would have the option of being both "married" and, er, "civilly united" while many gay couples would struggle to get the churches of which they are already members (if they are) to provide a "marriage" to them. The other--rather paranoid--concern seemed to be that this solution would invite a proposition that would forbid churches from marrying gay couples (i.e., that the word 'marriage' would be expressly forbidden to gay couples).

Now, I, myself, don't see much merit to these arguments (the first is probably largely true, but not the state's concern, the second would so obviously violate the First Amendment that it's not worth entertaining). But I suspect that the real anxiety is not that the measure is actually discriminatory, I think it's a feeling that the straights are burning their toys rather than let the gays play with them. The focus of the gay marriage movement has been in part on real, tangible benefits and in part on symbolic gains. Gay people wanted the right to get "married," in part, as a marker of social acceptance. I think the suspicion is that this "civil union" thing is a way of denying them that measure of acceptance by refusing it to everybody--while knowing that all the straight couples who get their civil unions will still be unproblematically regarded as "married" by society.

That's what I meant by "separate but equal in disguise"--the fear is that you end up with a state in which straight couples unproblematically consider themselves to be "married" and gay couples get to uneasily regard themselves as "civilly united."

I can, in part, understand this fear. I just think that such a distinction would rapidly dissolve in the face of the inevitably promiscuous use of the term "marriage" to refer to all ceremonies of union. Laws can't constrain people's actual usage--and in this case they wouldn't.
posted by yoink at 4:16 PM on March 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I should have used the awkward phrase "domestically partnered" in place of the awkward phrase "civilly united" in the above.
posted by yoink at 4:17 PM on March 14, 2009


This makes perfect sense to me. All partnerships should be civil unions, and then marriages are a specific subset of those. The broad case is people who choose to commit to one another on a permanent basis. Marriage is a narrower case of that broader category, a man and woman joined under the auspices of religion. That special case should have neither inherent advantages nor inherent drawbacks, from the government's standpoint. It should be exactly as good as, but no better than, any other form of civil union.

This is the right way to keep religion and government separated.
posted by Malor at 4:18 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've always thought this made sense.
posted by Defenestrator at 4:23 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Marriage is a narrower case of that broader category, a man and woman joined under the auspices of religion.

Marriage has never had an exclusively religious meaning. There are millions upon millions of straight married couples in the world today to whom even the most rabid religious nutjobs would happily apply the term "married" who went through no religious ceremony of any kind. That's why I say that while this Proposition would take the term "marriage" out of State law, it would liberate it to be used universally in everyday usage.
posted by yoink at 4:31 PM on March 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Damn Uncle Thom queers.

Separate but equal is not the answer. We figured this shit out 40 years ago. If we entertain the thought that religions "own" marriage it only gives their argument legitimacy. I don't like the idea of any religion owning marriage.

What if we determined 42 years ago that white people and black people could enter into a domestic partnership instead of being married? How retarded would the states look right now in the international community if they had? Not like you guys care but you'd look like a bunch of idiots.
posted by Talez at 4:37 PM on March 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


What if we determined 42 years ago that white people and black people could enter into a domestic partnership instead of being married? How retarded would the states look right now in the international community if they had?
If we also decided that white people and white people could do so?

And if that were their only choice, from a governmental point of view?

And if it were left up to individual religions to decide whether white people and black people could get "married" under their religion, without any governmental policy making them go one way or the other?

Just like it is today left up to individual religions to decide whether divorcees can get "married" under their religion, without any governmental policy making them go one way or the other?

I think we would look fine.

Well, except for those of us who chose to belong to bigoted churches.
posted by Flunkie at 4:44 PM on March 14, 2009


There was a great interview (which I can't find right now) on NPR a few months ago with a historian on the relationship between the government and marriage. And, as someone above mentioned, it only got involved as a tax issue. California government and businesses already recognize domestic partners (or what ever its called now) for insurance and such. For almost everything else, any two (or more) people could enter into a binding contract with whatever terms they like. The main point (no matter what happens in CA) not settled is what happens to their rights when they travel out of state (I'm sure everyone has heard the heartbreaking stories of one partner not being able to visit another in the hospital or losing custody of the kids if a medical emergency or death occurs when not in CA).
posted by 445supermag at 4:47 PM on March 14, 2009


What if we determined 42 years ago that white people and black people could enter into a domestic partnership instead of being married?

I'm not sure if you're understanding the Proposition or not. Every couple--gay or straight--would be in a "Domestic Partnership" for all legal matters regulated by the State. This isn't an establishment of a separate regime of "Domestic Partnership" for gay couples.

If the US had established a universal national code of "civil partnership" back in the Civil Rights era, and the same code had applied to white, mixed and black couples, then the US would, today, look like, say, France (and IIRC most nations in Europe) where most people getting married have a civil ceremony before they go on to have a separate (and, from the State's p.o.v irrelevant) religious ceremony. The mere fact that the word "marriage" wasn't used in the US code would hardly interest anyone other than legal historians.

Everyone--black and white--would call themselves "married" regardless of the fact that the state used the term "domestic partnership" or "civil union" to describe their legal relationship. Sounds like a good model to me--but, as I say, I think your position will be a pretty common one.
posted by yoink at 4:50 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's funny that the Mormons should be behind a push to regulate marriage. Back in 1866 a former Mormon petitioned an English court to grant him a divorce. He had left the faith and been excommunicated, and his former wife had then married another man. I presume that the former Mormon felt that his marriage still existed, even though his wife had remarried under the auspices of her church.

The problem the Court faced was that granting a divorce would thereby implicitly recognise the validity of LDS marriages, many of which were polygamous. English law had no way of dealing with the legal issues this raised. The court didn't have the luxury of distinguishing between marriage-as-a-sacrament and marriage-in-the-eyes-of-the-law because Utah (where the marriage had taken place) then allowed polygamous marriages. On the other hand, it would be a bit harsh to leave this man legally tied to his former wife.

English courts often find a third way of handling difficult cases. The judge ruled that this marriage, even though not polygamous in itself (as it was their first marriage), was potentially polygamous and therefore inherently different to English ("Christian") marriages. The court could not grant a divoorce because in the eyes of English law there had been no marriage to begin with - no Mormon marriages were marriages in the eyes of English law.

So this case has a funny resonance with the current controversy: back then a secular court found it strange and shocking that it should be expected to treat a Mormon marriage as if it were a "real" one; today the Mormons find it strange and shocking that a secular court should be expected to treat gay marriages as if they were "real" ones.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:51 PM on March 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'm not sure if you're understanding the Proposition or not. Every couple--gay or straight--would be in a "Domestic Partnership" for all legal matters regulated by the State. This isn't an establishment of a separate regime of "Domestic Partnership" for gay couples.

I understand it perfectly. Straight people will still call themselves married and gay people will get corrected when they try to use the word married.
posted by Talez at 5:09 PM on March 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


My girlfriend and I are getting married in October. As a heterosexual couple with many gay friends, one of whom will be a bridesmaid at our wedding, we both believe very strongly that marriage is something that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be allowed to experience.

As we began looking for celebrants to marry us, one thing we felt very strongly about was that a line we had heard uttered at every marriage we had attended previously should not be said. That line is "Marriage, means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life." We had both thought that this line was something that these individual celebrants had decided to include because they could or because they wanted to, because they were bigoted and felt like proseltysing at someones wedding. We didn't want this, and sought out celebrants who would respect our wishes.

What we found was that this line was something required to be said by celebrants under Australian law. Section 41 of the Marriage Act, a document penned in 1950, says that anyone who is a civil marraige celebrant must say at the ceremony that "Marriage, means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life" so that the couple know and understand this. Two witnesses must hear it. If the line is not said, the celebrant can lose their licence and the marriage is considered null and void. Priests performing marriage ceremonies need not say this, however, most likely because the Act's authors decided that if you're getting married by a priest you're presumably a heterosexual couple who know that homosexuals shouldn't and can't get married.

We were appalled at this. How dare the state tell us what marriage is, and how dare it intrude on our ceremony! But the reality was clear; if we wanted to get married it had to be said, regardless of what we as a couple personally felt. Sure, we could have gotten married by a priest but given we're both atheists as well, that wasn't an option either.

In the end we worked out a loophole; the line has to be said and heard by the couple and two witnesses but the rest of the crowd do not need to hear that line. So on the day we get married, as a form of protest our celebrant will say the line to us, and our two witnesses but no one else will ever hear it said. It's a small, maybe hollow victory, but a victory nonetheless.

As two of our very religious friends were apt to point out, marriage is at its heart a religious institution. But as we countered, it has changed over time and is no longer the religious institution it once was. To many people, mostly religious people, it still is a religious institution and that's fine. For them. But for many people such as my partner and myself, it's not so much of an institution, a very unromantic word, but more of a committment. It is an expression of love for one another, perhaps one of the highest such expressions that can exist. And love between two human beings is the most natural thing in the world. It seems insane to say that love between anyone, even two people of the same gender, is unnatural. So it similarly seems insane to say that anyone could think that only a heterosexual couple could express that love in the form of a lifelong commitment to one another.

The point is that yeah, marriage is an area the state really, really needs to get out of. The state is pragmatic because politicians and politics are pragmatic, and as such social change is slow to arrive and usually only does because of some enormous event that occurs maybe once in a generation. The state might want to have some kind of formal recognition or register of people getting married, sure, but to dictate who can get married and how is a bit too much. So until the state gets out of this area, marriage will remain essentially a religious institution at heart because that's the way the people at the top want it to stay. And that is a terrible situation to allow to exist, especially in the 21st century, because we are effectively denying a part of society the right to express their love in a way that another part of society can do easily, naturally and in some cases, without a hell of a lot of thought.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:10 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


To put it simply: It's equality in name only.
posted by Talez at 5:10 PM on March 14, 2009


I understand it perfectly. Straight people will still call themselves married and gay people will get corrected when they try to use the word married.

So, rather than legislate equal rights, what you really want to legislate is what people think and say?
posted by Krrrlson at 5:11 PM on March 14, 2009


I want a referendum on allowing Mormons to marry.
posted by nola at 5:15 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I understand it perfectly. Straight people will still call themselves married and gay people will get corrected when they try to use the word married.

Uh... unless they get married in a church that recognizes it. For instance, the Unitarian Universalists.
posted by brundlefly at 5:17 PM on March 14, 2009


So, rather than legislate equal rights, what you really want to legislate is what people think and say?

It's separate but equal in disguise. Make everyone a second class citizen but then only allow hetro couples to describe themselves as the traditional first class citizens. It'd be like us creating a separate class of schools for black and white people called "higher learning institutions" and then allowing only white people to continue to go to universities.

It's equality in name only. The spirit of it is throwing gay people a bone so they'll hopefully shutup and not see it for the ruse it really is.
posted by Talez at 5:17 PM on March 14, 2009


but then only allow hetro couples to describe themselves as the traditional first class citizens
Who is doing this "only allowing"?
posted by Flunkie at 5:19 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or, I guess, just declare themselves married. What this does is take the institution out of the hands of the state. That being the case, how would a married gay couple be "corrected?"
posted by brundlefly at 5:19 PM on March 14, 2009


I understand it perfectly. Straight people will still call themselves married and gay people will get corrected when they try to use the word married.

Well--I predicted exactly that response up above at 4:16, so I'm not surprised by it. I think it's wrong as a matter of fact, though. Look at countries that have, in fact, provided a "civil union" provision that both gay and straight couples can marry under (such as New Zealand). In those countries, people in civil unions call themselves married, people in the press refer to such couples as married, their friends and acquaintances call them married.

And really, how else could things play out? You invite all your friends and family to celebrate your wedding; you really think they'll come and say "but you know, it's not really a wedding, man--it's just a Domestic Partnership"? You talk about your "husband" or "wife" and your friends will all make a point of correcting you and saying "you mean 'Domestic Partner' young man/woman"?

I mean, I'm sure there's the odd dickhead who makes a point of doing that--but those dickheads would be free to do that regardless of the law. The vast majority of people would just go with the flow--and the flow would be for the word "marriage" to be used without distinction for gay and straight couples.
posted by yoink at 5:21 PM on March 14, 2009


Who is doing this "only allowing"?

Society at large. The bigots that will say "Pffft. No church would ever marry you!"

How the hell can anybody think that appeasement of bigotry and hatred can possibly turn out to be a good idea in the long run.
posted by Talez at 5:21 PM on March 14, 2009


It'd be like us creating a separate class of schools for black and white people called "higher learning institutions" and then allowing only white people to continue to go to universities.

Well, except that under this proposition the rights granted are explicitly and unequivocally equal. It's cheating to then analogize it to a situation in which one group is accorded radically different rights from the other group.
posted by yoink at 5:23 PM on March 14, 2009


If we entertain the thought that religions "own" marriage . . .

Isn't marriage a religious concept? I mean I don't think anyone should be kept from getting married, but isn't religion about excluding people from their club unless they do what they're told? What I mean is, aren't all "marriages" really civil unions with the "church" blessing tossed in for good measure? I'm asking in all seriousness, as someone who full supports GLTG rights.
posted by nola at 5:23 PM on March 14, 2009


Society at large. The bigots that will say "Pffft. No church would ever marry you!"

Except there ARE churches that would marry them, the incredulity of a few morons notwithstanding.
posted by brundlefly at 5:24 PM on March 14, 2009


Society at large. The bigots that will say "Pffft. No church would ever marry you!"
First of all, the obvious response is, "Uh, First Methoevangolutherist down on Broad Street did".

Second of all, your objection seems to be "this doesn't stop people from thinking or saying bad things". To which, I guess, my only response is, uh, right, it doesn't.
posted by Flunkie at 5:25 PM on March 14, 2009


Isn't marriage a religious concept?

No. Marriage in the european tradition has been a contract between two people and the state since its inception. In the 1500s the Roman Catholics decided they'd only recognise a marriage if it was officiated by a priest and in the 1700s the protestants did the same.

Marriage isn't a religious concept. It's been misappropriated by religions.
posted by Talez at 5:29 PM on March 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


As much as the counter points make sense I still don't think it's a good idea. It just reeks of "so you don't like us being married? Well we won't call it marriage then".
posted by Talez at 5:32 PM on March 14, 2009


In the 1500s the Roman Catholics decided they'd only recognise a marriage if it was officiated by a priest and in the 1700s the protestants did the same.

I understand why members of a faith would want the approval of their elders in the form of a marriage, their church tells them that the must be married or they are in sin. Those same churches have lots of rules their followers must live by in order to be members.

Civil union, sounds to me like a return to the pre Roman Catholic misappropriation. Because if marriage is as you say, "Marriage in the european tradition has been a contract between two people and the state since its inception." then my point is; what's in a name?

And at this point saying civil unions aren't good enough, seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face. And I say that with all love. I for one wish this wasn't an issue and I think very little of people that would deny you or anyone the full title of marriage, but if they want to have their little symatic victory let 'em.

Some churchs will say you're not married ,and that I don't get to go to heaven because I don't give a shit about their rules . . . fuck 'em.
posted by nola at 5:40 PM on March 14, 2009


re: Talez

This is coming from people who *do* like the thought of gay people getting married, they just don't see any particular need for the state to be involved in the ceremonial aspect of it.
posted by uri at 5:41 PM on March 14, 2009


It just reeks of "so you don't like us being married? Well we won't call it marriage then"

I prefer to think of it as a kind ju-jitsu. The conservatives have nailed their colors to the mast of "marriage has always meant a sacred bond between a man and a woman--you can't redefine the word marriage." So you say "okey doke, let's just take the word out of the equation then." And then, hey presto, gay couples get to be absolutely equal in the eyes of the state with straight couples and--delicious cherry on top--everybody in practice uses the term "marriage" to refer to gay and straight couples alike.

Famous victory all round.
posted by yoink at 5:43 PM on March 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


As much as the counter points make sense I still don't think it's a good idea. It just reeks of "so you don't like us being married? Well we won't call it marriage then".

Except that's not what the anti-gay marriage folks will say. They'll be ticked off about not being able to make the law conform to their bigotry. Meanwhile, everyone else will go on and get all civil unionizized or married or whatever the hell they want to.

Some churchs will say you're not married ,and that I don't get to go to heaven because I don't give a shit about their rules . . . fuck 'em.

Amen, brother.
posted by brundlefly at 5:43 PM on March 14, 2009


I thought the point of all this, from the Religious Right's point of view was as simply an appeasement fallback position from actively discriminating against homosexual couples - and (in turn) that was a fallback position from dragging homosexuals into the middle of the street and shooting them after a sound beating?

IMO, this is not bait worth taking: On one hand, what happens when an irreligious (straight or gay) couple travels out of state and finds out that their Domestic Partnership doesn't allow them to have any hospital visitation rights at all in, say, Georgia? On the Other, what screams louder 'Teh Gayz are trying to destroy marriage!!!!!" than trying to pass legislature that on a first-pass read... destroys marriage?
posted by Orb2069 at 5:44 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


On one hand, what happens when an irreligious (straight or gay) couple travels out of state and finds out that their Domestic Partnership doesn't allow them to have any hospital visitation rights at all in, say, Georgia?

An interesting question.
posted by brundlefly at 5:46 PM on March 14, 2009


Second class citizen... separate class of schools for black and white people... equality in name only... throwing gay people a bone... appeasement of bigotry and hatred...

I'm going to go with the "troll or idiot" option at this point.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:47 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


In theory, I'm wholeheartedly behind this idea. I think that marriage as a religious institution should be separate from the concept of registering a legal commitment to someone. Yes, the two overlapping makes total sense, but people get married "for the paperwork" for immigration and other purposes, and I've known couples who could get legally married and instead skip it for a purely spiritual ceremony because they don't like the way that government handles marriage - specifically including the fact that gay marriage isn't legal everywhere. It should totally be up to the individual couple to decide if they want a religious/spiritual ceremony to celebrate their commitment, a legal contract, or both. The wording on all of this should also be left to the discretion of the couples involved. Marriage. Domestic Partners. Butt Buddies. This should be a choice made by the people, not the government.

But... on a practical level... I don't think that this will ever fly. I do not believe that there are enough forward-thinking straight couples out there who would agree to NOT call their unions "marriage" in order to create equality with gay couples who can't get "married" due to language limiting marriage to a man and a woman. The rallying cry is going to be "The gays are taking away marriage!" I can totally see it now. It's just too, too easy to spin this as the gay community trying to take something away from the straight community and it will never, ever work.

Feel free to prove me wrong on this, California. Gay marriage is an uphill battle and one that I personally believe is worth any and all efforts that it takes to fight for it, but I don't believe that a proposition that can be spun as taking marriage away from anyone is going to help the long term cause of allowing committed gay couples who want to marry the same legal rights as currently married heterosexual couples.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:52 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Domestic Partnership" is a terrible term but the idea is sound. New Zealand's (and other countries) introduction of Civil Unions caused almost no fuss.

Leaving aside the religious objections (which are always going to exist), the main problem with gay marriage is purely legal - in every country there is a huge wad of law and legal precedent to do with marriage: for tax, insurance, property, children, etc, etc. Much of that law is written with the assumption that one party will be a man and the other will be a woman, but is otherwise useful and nobody wants to change it.

The civil union approach simply makes a new law saying "There is this new thing called a Civil Union and every old ruling that applies to marriage also applies to civil unions". This makes the courts happy, since they don't need to toss out 200 years of case law - people get civil unions or married depending on how they feel, companies that deal with couples (HR, insurance, hospitals, etc) have clear guild lines, the religious don't feel that marriage is threatened (well some do, but who cares?), and people get on with their lives.
posted by AndrewStephens at 6:01 PM on March 14, 2009


I understand it perfectly. Straight people will still call themselves married and gay people will get corrected when they try to use the word married.

Since exactly the same thing is going to occur in jurisdictions where it's "marriage" for both types of couples, I'm not sure what your point is.
posted by oaf at 6:03 PM on March 14, 2009


Except there ARE churches that would marry them, the incredulity of a few morons notwithstanding.

I think they prefer to be called latter-day aints.
posted by oaf at 6:04 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Prop. 8 always reminded me of how some countries (France?) tried to preserve their national language by forbidding the public use of non-native words (e.g., "cheeseburger"). The analogy isn't perfect because marriage has a legal definition with certain legal effects (taxation etc.), but the Prop. 8 crowd was trying to sell it as a way to preserve the non-legal, colloquial definition of marriage. Like, they would say, "we're not advocating for unequal treatment of people in domestic partnerships, we just want to keep "marriage" for ourselves." This law is just giving the Prop. 8 people what they said they wanted.
posted by psp200 at 6:09 PM on March 14, 2009


That is, gays will always regard this move with suspicion as a kind of "separate but equal" solution in disguise.

We dealt with this bigotry as a nation back in Loving v. Virginia. It is not a "kind of". It most certainly is "separate but equal", a de facto and de jure segregation of gays and lesbians by a bigoted fundamentalist minority.

But probably the only thing that would make some of you get it in your thick skulls that this is bigotry will be when the Mormons and other Christians start coming after you and take away rights that you now enjoy. Maybe you're too Jewish or too Muslim. Maybe you don't salute the flag hard enough. Maybe your skin's a little too brown. Maybe you'll get the lesson then.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:17 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


BP I respect you, and I want to understand but honestly I don't. I'm very receptive, but could you explain your possition less hyperbolically. This is what I had to say about it up thread, I would enjoy your thoughts.
posted by nola at 6:27 PM on March 14, 2009


This is what I had to say about it up thread, I would enjoy your thoughts.

When we had a Supreme Court ruling over whether blacks and whites could marry, we didn't invent some bogus terminology to appease the KKK.

We looked at the Constitution and recognized equal protection of all Americans under the law.

We don't need to do the same today to appease Mormon and Christian bigots.

This is not about nose-cutting, this is deciding what America is about.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:35 PM on March 14, 2009 [9 favorites]


Well I can respect you for wanting to make a stand, and for what it's worth I stand with you.
posted by nola at 6:39 PM on March 14, 2009


Marriage was originally a secular practice. I'm sorry, but religions can't claim it.

I'm an atheist who would like to be married someday. The term carries tradition and other implications, legal and otherwise, for me too.

Accepting "civil union" or whatever the legalese would be is completely the wrong way to go. That isn't fighting for equality, it's giving up and accepting a second-class term. Separate but equal isn't.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:47 PM on March 14, 2009


Seriously, should we have had a different term for mixed-race marriages too? Sometimes you just have to keep ruffling feathers to get true equality.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:49 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously, should we have had a different term for mixed-race marriages too?
What do you mean by "too"?
posted by Flunkie at 7:07 PM on March 14, 2009


The union between two people should be exactly what it is. Two people should be able to determine what they want for themselves and for their loved one. Who the fuck cares what goes on between them? Seriously, why should anyone but the two be concerned with what goes on? People make the decision to unite, have children, etc. Let it remain between them, regardless of gender. What's the big deal?
posted by mnb64 at 7:21 PM on March 14, 2009


Marriage isn't a religious concept. It's been misappropriated by religions.

Excellent. Let them have it. I am perfectly willing to be civilly unionized if it means that the sheer number of people who would be civilly unionized prevent the discrimination against gay people that we're currently being forced to live with.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:31 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm an atheist who would like to be married someday.

And, under a civil union framework, nothing would stop you from engaging just about any willing secular official or figurehead to pronounce you and your partner married and even give you some meaningless piece of paper if you so choose.

We don't need to do the same today to appease Mormon and Christian bigots.

If you want equal legal rights, this proposal gives them to you. If your only goal is to stick it to the Christians, that's your own problem.

Funny how a rational solution that would both guarantee equal rights under the law and satisfy the largest number of parties is suddenly not enough; suddenly, we must also enforce terminology. Except that the terminology is defined by its users, so clearly that's not the real problem -- the real problem is that "bigots" will allegedly refuse to adopt your version of the terminology (even though these "bigots" are, in your own words, a minority). So what you really want is to enforce what these "bigots" have the right to say.

This is not about nose-cutting, this is deciding what America is about.

Apparently, it's about restricting speech. Who knew?
posted by Krrrlson at 7:32 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Apparently, it's about restricting speech. Who knew?

It used to be about protecting kids, now bigots think it's about protecting free speech. Talk about moving goal posts!

Since it is now about protecting speech and no longer about protecting the kids, let's cave in to the bigots and use their word games to prevent atheists, pagans, and other non-Christians from having marriage ceremonies. Let's annul their existing marriages, too.

Those Jews, in particular, are keeping Christians and Mormons from expressing their rights to define marriage as a Christian ceremony. Once we stick it to the fags, let's start by annulling Jewish marriages. It's not right that we restrict Christian speech by allowing Jews to be married.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:01 PM on March 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


I want a referendum on allowing Mormons to marry.

As far as I can tell, that would be entirely possible if Prop 8 is upheld. Ken Starr basically said as much when the justices pressed him on it. In his interpretation (with which a narrow majority of justices appear to agree), rights are completely up to the will of the majority to give or take away at whim, and the equal protection clause is essentially toothless, at least according to the CA constitution as it stands.
posted by treepour at 8:02 PM on March 14, 2009


But probably the only thing that would make some of you get it in your thick skulls that this is bigotry will be when the Mormons and other Christians start coming after you and take away rights that you now enjoy. Maybe you're too Jewish or too Muslim. Maybe you don't salute the flag hard enough. Maybe your skin's a little too brown. Maybe you'll get the lesson then.

Well, all those Christians and Mormons would like to convert the Jews and Muslims to Christianity/Mormonism, which would certainly take away their rights to freedom of religion. And certainly those whose skins are "too brown" are often subject to far greater scrutiny than those like myself who are so white, we are practically see-through.

These minority groups you mention DO experience bigotry on a day to day basis and have had to fight their own battles. If you're arguing that in fairness, they should support gay marriage, that's cool, but I hope it means that you're going to get out there and campaign for Affirmative Action, immigration reform, bilingual schools, and other "too brown" issues.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:08 PM on March 14, 2009


Many people argue that this is just a semantic issue: it's just about whether or not gay people get to use the word "marriage." One of the amazing things about the CA Supreme Court ruling in the in re Marriage Cases was that one of the things that caused this inequality was the fact that if the state had a law that allowed straight people to use "marriage" to describe their relationships and not allow gay people to use that word, the state was creating a situation that was inherently unequal. Words are important.

And for anybody arguing that gay people who use words like "marriage" to describe their relationships or "husband" to describe their partners aren't corrected? Try doing it sometime. You might be surprised. While I haven't actually experienced this with regard to my own relationship (it would require being in one...) I have many friends who have entered into various gay marriages.

One such couple got married in a wedding in Chicago (so of course, not legal.) One of them continually had to deal with comments from her mother that it wasn't a real marriage.

Another such couple worked with me at a fairly progressive company in California. Even there, it's possible to find people who work in HR who feel that they need to promote their religious beliefs in the workplace, and he had a pretty hard time getting the head of HR to put his children on his health plan. So, just for a second, try and imagine the glare he got when he referred to his husband.

I know it's going to be impossible to get bigots to stop acting like this. But it's a slap in the face when the government is required by law to use the same bigoted speech.
posted by grae at 8:19 PM on March 14, 2009


And for anybody arguing that gay people who use words like "marriage" to describe their relationships or "husband" to describe their partners aren't corrected?
Who is arguing that?
posted by Flunkie at 8:25 PM on March 14, 2009


Maybe some day in some unlikely yet glimmering future society, culture and the individuals and institutions therein will have a majority common sense intelligence and neither care who mutually declares to love, care for or bond to whom but will also ultimately recognize that it's neither document nor words nor sex nor least of all official state recognition that declare a partnership to be real and true but time, intimacy and love itself that make it real and true.

Until then keep fighting the good fight, you fearless love warriors.
posted by loquacious at 8:47 PM on March 14, 2009


*plays solo on heart-shaped electric guitar*
posted by brundlefly at 9:03 PM on March 14, 2009


What we found was that this line was something required to be said by celebrants under Australian law. Section 41 of the Marriage Act, a document penned in 1950, says that anyone who is a civil marraige celebrant must say at the ceremony...

We had this problem too, Effigy2000. Although our civil celebrant said that it was an amendment to the act that John Howard had pushed through in (I think) 2004. She and her professional association had campaigned against the change and failed, but we were happy that at least she'd tried to stop it. I wish we'd thought of your solution to that damned sentence.
posted by harriet vane at 9:08 PM on March 14, 2009


Anyone interested in marriage is perfectly free to turn to the religious institution of their choice, or, for that matter, just to tag themselves as married. Problem solved.

Thus rendering marriage entirely cut free from the social and legal underpinnings it sprung from and coming up with a new term to describe sexual pairings for the formation of stable family units that carry the respect at large of society. That's... Actually sort of sneaky. Kill marriage and reincarnate it with a new name, leaving the fundies holding a worthless definition, and pulling another source of power from their grasp.

But really, why bother with the change and go around saying it's not a marriage, it just legally does everything that a marriage does? As much as I love dialogue that looks like it was ripped out of a sci-fi novel it seems a bit like reinventing the wheel: "This is my life partner. On planet Equalia our domestic pairings are sanctified by the state in the ceremony of the paperwork filing. I may choose only one domestic partner at a time and if we choose to dissolve the pairing, a separate ritual of filing is required, and sometimes highly stylized conflict refereed by a person in ancient robes, but I may have as many husbands or wives as I wish.")
posted by Phalene at 9:11 PM on March 14, 2009


I do not believe that there are enough forward-thinking straight couples out there who would agree to NOT call their unions "marriage"

Why would they have to do that? They can call their unions "marriage" or "defenestration" or "Deadly Vipers Assassination Squad" or whatever else they want to, whether the relevant law calls it a "domestic partnership" or a "marriage" or an "enraged drop bear."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:15 PM on March 14, 2009


If you want equal legal rights, this proposal gives them to you.

For how long? The same folks who brought us Prop 8 have been, at various times, depending on how it suits them, very open about their objective, which is to roll back domestic partnership protections, which is what they've already done with great success in states like Michigan and Ohio. If the California Constitution, because it says that marriage is "between a man and a woman," is legally construed to allow the elimination of marriage rights, why may it not be construed to allow the eradication of domestic partnership or civil union rights?

If those who think same-sex marriage is wrong are determined enough and have enough money to spend on it, their next goal is almost always to roll back anything that resembles marriage, including domestic partnerships. As the Ohio marriage amendment states: "This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage." That's the definition of a domestic partnership.

Oh, and if you think This Kind of Thing Couldn't Happen in California, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.
posted by blucevalo at 9:22 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


effigy, harriet:

Does it meet the requirements of the law if the celebrant says:

"And now for a formality. The government of Australia requires that I inform you that, in their words, 'Marriage, means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.' That's what they require that I say, and that the couple hear, and that two witnesses (*points at them*) hear me tell them. Weird, but that's the law. The law doesn't require that I tell them that many people, in Australia and abroad, believe that marriage can also mean the union of two men, or of two women, but that's nonetheless true."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:24 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


so they finally listened to me?
glad to hear.
posted by liza at 9:42 PM on March 14, 2009


We dealt with this bigotry as a nation back in Loving v. Virginia. It is not a "kind of". It most certainly is "separate but equal", a de facto and de jure segregation of gays and lesbians by a bigoted fundamentalist minority.

Apparently you haven't read the proposal. There can be no "segregation" where exactly the same legal regime is applied to both gays and straights indiscriminately. There may be other arguments to be made against the idea, but this one is simply false.

But thanks for the gratuitous insults.
posted by yoink at 9:49 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: "Does it meet the requirements of the law if the celebrant says:

"And now for a formality. The government of Australia requires that I inform you that, in their words, 'Marriage, means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.' That's what they require that I say, and that the couple hear, and that two witnesses (*points at them*) hear me tell them. Weird, but that's the law. The law doesn't require that I tell them that many people, in Australia and abroad, believe that marriage can also mean the union of two men, or of two women, but that's nonetheless true."
"

Technically I suppose it would, ROU. That was once option we considered. But in the end we decided to do it this way so that the least amount of people possible hear that ridiculous sentence at our ceremony.

For the record, Section 46 of the Marriage Act says that the celebrant must say all of the following at the ceremony;

"I am duly authorized by law to solemnize marriages according to law.

Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter.

Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”


My research informed me that the first paragraph must be said in front of everyone present (so that everyone present knows that the celebrant is a registered celebrant) and it can be detached from the second and third paragraphs. This means that you could say paragraphs 2 and 3 at the start of the ceremony for only a select few people to hear (as we will do) and then you could, if you wanted, do a whole bunch of other stuff, so long as at some point in the ceremony the first paragraph is said for everyone to hear.

harriet vane: "We had this problem too, Effigy2000. Although our civil celebrant said that it was an amendment to the act that John Howard had pushed through in (I think) 2004. She and her professional association had campaigned against the change and failed, but we were happy that at least she'd tried to stop it. I wish we'd thought of your solution to that damned sentence."

Your celebrant was right. Before Howard came along the Act allowed celebrants to write to the Federal Attorney General to ask for permission to not say the lines. Howard, the self-righteous fuckhead that he is, changed it so that the lines had to be said. All the more proof that the state should not be involved in these things, really.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:50 PM on March 14, 2009


On one hand, what happens when an irreligious (straight or gay) couple travels out of state and finds out that their Domestic Partnership doesn't allow them to have any hospital visitation rights at all in, say, Georgia?

I imagine pretty much the same thing that happens when a legally married gay Californian couple (there are now thousands of them, of course) travels to Georgia. That is, they find themselves stripped of the rights that California has recognized. Of course that is an obscene wrong, but to say "this won't solve everything" is hardly a valid objection to it.

If Federal law is changed to compel all states to recognize all marriages, gay or straight, then clearly Californian "Domestic Parterships" will be included in that process. While Federal Law continues to leave gay married couples unprotected outside their states, then it hardly matters whether those relationships are called "marriages" or "domestic partnerships" by the states involved, does it?
posted by yoink at 9:55 PM on March 14, 2009


And for anybody arguing that gay people who use words like "marriage" to describe their relationships or "husband" to describe their partners aren't corrected?

Once the right to marriage is guaranteed, and there are thousands upon thousands of such couples operating very visibly in society then such "corrections" will become very rare. For evidence look at what has happened in countries where gay marriages have, in fact, been made legal.

Of course some people will make a point of being jackasses about it. But the law doesn't save you from jackasses. Even if Prop 8 gets overturned and gay marriage is once again legal in California those jackasses will still be saying "no, you're not really married." Either you can learn to ignore the jackasses or you can't. I'd have thought that "hey, you've only got a domestic partnership too--if that isn't marriage, then you're committing adultery" is as good a come back as "well according to California law we are."
posted by yoink at 10:02 PM on March 14, 2009


But really, why bother with the change and go around saying it's not a marriage, it just legally does everything that a marriage does?

That's a simple one. Do you really not know the answer to this? The word 'marriage' carries an enormous amount of emotional, religious, and political weight. If you fight the battle using this word you'll lose--in fact the battle was just lost. It will lose again, and again, and again.

This is an ingenious approach, but requires one side to be big enough to abandon the word and smart enough to set aside their internal emotions surrounding knowing that the other side is incapable of doing this. Are you? If the posts on this board are any indication, I don't think either side is willing to be clever enough to give up the emotional battle.
posted by eye of newt at 10:09 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of people here apparently don't understand that in order to be separate but equal, it has to be separate. The new proposition is doing explicitly the opposite of that.
posted by oaf at 10:19 PM on March 14, 2009


I remember seeing a few years ago a report on 60 minutes about the approach in France. A form of civil union that is less binding than traditional marriages was adopted as a way of dealing with same-sex partnerships. As I remember the story, this was originally intended to apply only to same-sex couples but opposite-sex couples campaigned to have the same option available to them. Where I live gay couples can now marry and it has zero impact upon me. However, I would have preferred a new legal structure to recognize committed same-sex relationships that was also open for heterosexual couples as an alternative to traditional marriage. Sure, it would be unequal to give heterosexual couples two forms of legal partnership while homosexual couples only have one, but eventually people of all inclinations might gravitate to the more inclusive, less stodgy form of partnership that's free of all the religious overtones and 'til death do us part fantasy and marriage as we know it today would come to be viewed as an antiquated ritual of the Mormons and the Amish and the farmlands. This, of course, would take time, but it would allow this necessary shift to occur through personal choice and subsequent cultural change rather than being imposed by the courts, acknowledging the values of religious and conservative communities while giving same-sex couples today the legal rights that they need.
posted by TimTypeZed at 10:23 PM on March 14, 2009


It's amazing why the Negroes weren't happy with Colored Only water fountains. They could still drink water.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:41 PM on March 14, 2009


It's amazing why the Negroes weren't happy with Colored Only water fountains. They could still drink water.

Either you're not reading the thread, or you're just trolling. In any case, since the proper analogy seems to have escaped you, let me provide it:

We remove the "Whites Only" and "Colored Only" signs on the water fountains, and replace them all with signs reading "vital, life-sustaining liquid" or something similarly bureaucratic.
posted by oaf at 10:45 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anyone glanced at this map lately?

The Sierra Nevada mountain range runs north-south, roughly along the divide between purple and green.
posted by marlys at 10:52 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Either you're not reading the thread

Since the proper analogy escapes you, changing the language — if such a thing is even tenable — doesn't cure the underlying disease, and, further, it only underscores the ghettoization that has taken place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:55 PM on March 14, 2009


There is one objection which I've heard advanced that seems to me without merit. That is, that Federal Law applies to "marriage" and not to "civil unions" and that therefore this would somehow place gay couples at a disadvantage in terms of pressing their case for marriage recognition at a Federal level. I think this misses the mark in two ways. First, there are already gay married couples whose marriages conform perfectly with State law, and yet the Feds do not feel bound to recognize those marriages.

I'm late to the thread, so sorry if this has been covered, but as far as I know the above is completely wrong. There like 70 or 80 distinct rights granted to married couples by the federal government. These are relating to federal law, so any people who are married get these rights, regardless of what state they happen to be standing in. As far as I know all gay people have "marriage recognition at a Federal level." The problems are that

a) many gay people live in states that refuse to allow them to marry
and
b) many, but not all, rights granted to married people are granted by the states, who can pick and choose who they consider "married" when deciding how the apply state law.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:06 PM on March 14, 2009


the proper analogy escapes you

Actually, I provided the proper analogy. In any case, you've failed to explain how creating a level playing field is separate but equal. I invite you to do so at this time.
posted by oaf at 11:09 PM on March 14, 2009


As far as I know all gay people have "marriage recognition at a Federal level."

This is incorrect:

In a letter on Feb. 20 to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, an arm of the federal judiciary, Lorraine E. Dettman, assistant director of the personnel office, said, “Plans in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program may not provide coverage for domestic partners, or legally married partners of the same sex, even though recognized by state law.

Benefits are available to the spouse of a federal employee, Ms. Dettman said, but the 1996 [DOMA] law stipulates that “the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”


In other words, discrimination goes all the way to the top, even with "legal recognition" of "civil unions", "domestic partnerships", or whatever ersatz code phrase that is already used to segregate gay and lesbian couples.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:12 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Benefits are available to the spouse of a federal employee, Ms. Dettman said, but the 1996 [DOMA] law stipulates that “the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

So, you're saying that even if California wrote into its constitution that marriage can be applied to any two people regardless of gender, a spouse in a homosexual marriage couldn't get access to their partner's Federal Employees Health Benefits Program coverage, because California can't do a damn thing about the Federal definition of marriage.

So how is that an argument against this, again? California would be guaranteeing equal access to everything California has the ability to control. Even with Prop 8 overturned, gay marriages won't get access to federal programs reserved only for married couples.
posted by kafziel at 11:22 PM on March 14, 2009


As far as I know all gay people have "marriage recognition at a Federal level."

No, they do not.

The Defense of Marriage Act says that "in determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."

It doesn't get any clearer than that.
posted by blucevalo at 11:27 PM on March 14, 2009


Actually, I provided the proper analogy

You seem to be under the illusion that changing "marriage" to some other wording will magically cure bigotry, when the bigots had already done an end run around the English language to continue with acts of discrimination at the highest level of government, even with "civil unions", "domestic partnerships" or whatever fancy term one chooses.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:30 PM on March 14, 2009


Even with Prop 8 overturned, gay marriages won't get access to federal programs reserved only for married couples.

Yes, but overturning Prop 8 could make DOMA (and thus the lack of federal recognition of same-sex marriage) less tenable.
posted by blucevalo at 11:31 PM on March 14, 2009


Even with Prop 8 overturned, gay marriages won't get access to federal programs reserved only for married couples.

With Prop 8 overturned, California would still be "guaranteeing equal access to everything California has the ability to control." That's no argument against or for your point. Further, by overturning Prop 8 we would not be drinking from Colored Only fountains. When it comes time to go to the Supreme Court and overturn DOMA, we'll be on equal footing, as equal Americans defending the meaning of equal protection under law, and not cowering, begging to first overturn the equivalent of "don't ask, don't tell."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 PM on March 14, 2009


You seem to be under the illusion that changing "marriage" to some other wording will magically cure bigotry

You seem to be under the illusion that this proposal doesn't make same-sex couples equal in all ways to opposite-sex couples in the eyes of California law.
posted by oaf at 11:38 PM on March 14, 2009


NICE NICE NiCE

We're got one 8-7ear hetero cohabitation here in favor. No marriage till gay marriage (or other truly equitable option).

Presently, hets can't get DPs (get your mind outta the gutter) unless one partner is over 72 or some random-ass age. WTF, I'm not even 30 yet and I'm pretty committed to representing secular humanism.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:49 PM on March 14, 2009


yoink: That's why I say that while this Proposition would take the term "marriage" out of State law, it would liberate it to be used universally in everyday usage.

You're probably right about that, but I don't think that's the important bit. Even if the religious keep 'marriage' and call gay couples 'unionized' or something like that, the gays get the rights, and that's what really matters.

But it needs to be carefully defined that a marriage is a special case of civil union, not a separate institution. "Separate but equal" doesn't work -- if they're really equal, they don't need to be separated.
posted by Malor at 3:15 AM on March 15, 2009


It seems to me that the separate but equal counter-argument doesn't apply because we are not talking about facilities or services that would be separate but equal.

Everyone would be the same under this definition of the law. Those who wants to enter into a legal contract that was previously defined as "marriage" by the state would have to go this route, and everything state-related would be handled under this new terminology. "Marriage" as religious concept would be reserved for the religious, much like how you can't go to communion if you aren't a Catholic. But I repeat what has been said numerous times already.

In fact, I don't think this will go anywhere because not only people who are for same-sex marriage will object to it (in my view irrationally, because they have some totemic fetish for the term "marriage"), but also the religious objectors on the other side will object to it. They will recognize it for what it is, and see that their goal of punishing two people for wanting to spend their lives together would be thwarted by such a law. Instead, they will scream about how their "rite of holy matrimony" is no longer recognized as being magically special by the state, earning them exclusive protections and perks.
posted by moonbiter at 3:23 AM on March 15, 2009


For vote here. I really don't care what they call it, only that they allow any two humans over the age of consent to enter into it.
posted by saysthis at 4:53 AM on March 15, 2009


There is an appeal to a jujitsu type approach, I'll admit it. But this simply will not work.

Nevermind that to the bigots its "ZOMG the queers are trying to take marriage away". Nevermind that to many people it would very much look like an act of appeasement to the bigots, and like the straights are, as yoink put it "burning their toys".

And, lets be honest here, it is a capitulation. Its saying "ok, you bigots are too powerful to defeat so we're letting you keep the Special Word."

But there's a deeper problem.

First off there's the issue of Federal law, which uses the term "marriage", not "civil unionized human persons" or whatever other PC for bigots term you want to invent. Under this proposal you'd be guaranteeing that NO ONE in California gets any of the Federal benefits of being married. That sounds like a really bad idea to me.

Want to help your spouse immigrate to the US? Sorry, you aren't "married", you're "civil unionized", and the law only lets "husbands or wives", not "domestic partnership contractees" get in.

And, of course, there's international law, which also uses the term "marriage".

Now, to me, the real issue is that this proposal is an act of abject and cowardly surrender. Its an outright admission that the bigots are right, that marriage is such a special, holy, word that the state may never apply it to the faggots, and that in order to coddle their delicate sensibilities you'll deny that word to everyone rather than let the queers have it. For that reason alone I, and a lot of other people, can't stand behind it.

But the more practical reason is that, in the law of other states, the federal government, and other nations, the term "marriage" is recognized and legally valid, while "civil unionized" or whatever other bigot appeasing linguistic circumlocution you want to invent, isn't.

We do not surrender to bigots. I'm sorry some people don't understand this. I'm sorry that they'd rather use tongue twisting surrender language rather than fight, and I'm sorry they'd rather create hundreds, if not thousands, of new legal problems rather than just stand up for what's right. But this isn't a cleaver and nifty solution to a problem, its an act of surrender, an admission that the bigots are right and that you'll be willing to create thousands of new legal problems rather than dare to let the state use the Magic Word to refer to faggots. And by bending over to let the bigots win, you'd be creating scores of new legal problems. This is lose/lose.

There is a much simpler, easier, and less problematic way to solve the problem: grant homosexuals equal rights. And if you don't have the whatittakes to stand up to the bigots then get the hell out of the way, and stop muddying the waters of moral clarity with your appeasement.
posted by sotonohito at 5:06 AM on March 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


A lot of people here apparently don't understand that in order to be separate but equal, it has to be separate. The new proposition is doing explicitly the opposite of that.

If "marriage" is separate and only granted to religious people, then it is indeed separate.

sotonohito put the whole reasoning beautifully above.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:40 AM on March 15, 2009


If "marriage" is separate and only granted to religious people, then it is indeed separate.

If California recognizes "marriage" for nobody and "domestic partnership" for everybody, as it would under this proposal, it is perfectly equal, and not separate by any stretch of the imagination.

If you want to find some other means to bash this proposal, feel free, but don't keep bringing up a point that's been thoroughly debunked in this thread.
posted by oaf at 6:50 AM on March 15, 2009


the issue of Federal law, which uses the term "marriage"

Guess what? Calling all unions of two consenting adults "marriages" rather than "domestic partnerships" in California law will do exactly nothing with respect to the rights and privileges granted by federal law until the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed or someone gets around to deciding that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment. Nothing.

Under this proposal you'd be guaranteeing that NO ONE in California gets any of the Federal benefits of being married. That sounds like a really bad idea to me.

I don't know. I think having an eighth of the U.S. being up in arms about no longer having the same rights of people in the other 49 states would be a good thing, were it actually to occur. (My guess is that if this were to pass, opposite-sex domestic partnerships would be interpreted federally as marriages, and same-sex domestic partnerships would continue to be ignored.)

There is a much simpler, easier, and less problematic way to solve the problem: grant homosexuals equal rights.

Funny—that's exactly what this proposal would do.
posted by oaf at 7:02 AM on March 15, 2009


I see classic ideology vs pragmatism rife throughout this thread.
Ideologist Stance: It's not fair until its completely fair, and we should not accept anything less.
Pragmatist Stance: Separate the legal from the societal, so the legal rights of marriage/civil union they are granted.

The ideologues want to fight the societal battle, and fear that separating the legal and the societal weakens their ability to change society.

The pragmatists look at society and realize that it's a monumental effort that is not going to be done anytime soon, so let's take what we can get now.

The fact is that in the most liberal state in the country, the majority of people voted for bigotry. It makes me sad, but it is a fact. So, what is shaping up, if the pragmatic approach is abandoned, is a societal culture clash. In my mind you are not looking at equivalence to racial civil rights of the 1960's. I think it's more like the 40's or 50's. Here's the analogy I would use in that context. We are debating whether an African-American should be allowed to play sports. Some in the African-American community are saying no, because it would just be acquiescing to the bigots as it would only grant equality in the very narrow context of a sporting event. Others are saying it should be done, because it is a step in the right direction and is a step towards highlighting the artificial disparities while forcing society to notice a bit more the barriers it has put in place to a segment of its population.

If it's not obvious, I fall into the pragmatic approach. It's been my observation that steps forward rarely result in weakening one's position, and instead tend to strengthen it.
posted by forforf at 7:21 AM on March 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Once we stick it to the fags, let's start by annulling Jewish marriages. It's not right that we restrict Christian speech by allowing Jews to be married.

The level of dishonesty and distortion in that abortion of an analogy is mind-boggling, but, if you insist: if, tomorrow, Californian Christians decide they will no longer recognize Jewish marriages, something tells me that Jews won't suddenly stop performing wedding ceremonies, signing traditional marriage contracts, or calling themselves married, so long as their rights are protected by the law. But for you, the rights are not good enough, even when they include the freedom to self-identify as married, unless the government enforces your terminology among a small "minority" of "bigots."

It's clear enough that you are not interested in progress for homosexuals; rather, your only goal is to stick it to bigots, real or perceived, at any cost. Kind of like the time you refused to acknowledge that AIDS is a problem in the gay community because it would give ammo to bigots... with friends like you, the gay community hardly needs enemies.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:23 AM on March 15, 2009


A lot of people here apparently don't understand that in order to be separate but equal, it has to be separate. The new proposition is doing explicitly the opposite of that.
If "marriage" is separate and only granted to religious people, then it is indeed separate.
Well, yes, but why do you think that marriage is "only granted to religious people" under this proposal?

Under this proposal, the state of California grants "marriage" to no one. No one. Not religious people, not secular people, not straight people, not gay people, not earthlings, not martians.

Yes, if some church wants to say that certain people are "married", they can. Just like the Catholic church today says that Catholics married in a Catholic marriage ceremony by a Catholic priest are "married". This law takes no stance, and this claim by this church is completely irrelevant in its eyes.

And if they want to say that certain other people are "not married", they can do that too. Just like the Catholic church today says that a divorcee who, in the eyes of the state, remarries, is not married. This law takes no stance, and this claim by this church is completely irrelevant in its eyes.

And another church can flip those couples around - they say the first is "not married" (because, perhaps, they think that the Pope is the Antichrist and therefore Catholic ceremonies are not valid in the eyes of God), and the second is "married" (because they don't care about whether or not the new couple includes a divorcee). This law takes no stance, and this claim by this church is completely irrelevant in its eyes.

And people without a church: If you and your partner get hitched in a civil ceremony, and you want to say you're "married", good for you, go for it. This law takes no stance, and this claim by you is completely irrelevant in its eyes.

And if you and your partner don't get hitched, neither in a civil ceremony or a religious one, and you want to say you're "married", good for you, go for it. This law takes no stance, and this claim by you is completely irrelevant in its eyes.

There are certainly valid questions about this plan. But reading this thread, it's astounding me how many people seem to basing their complaints off of the fact that they're either completely missing or intentionally ignoring what it says.
posted by Flunkie at 8:45 AM on March 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


The problem is that, despite claims to the contrary this is not a pragmatic proposal. Maybe, maybe, if civil unions, domestic partnerships, and all those other words meaning "not really marriage but maybe it'll shut up the queers" hadn't been pushed on America for so long the idea might be more pragmatic. But that's the point, right now everyone knows that "civil unions" are a step down from real marriage. The terms have been the ghetto, the Jim Crow, of the marriage argument for so long that they can never be anything else no matter how badly you want them to be.

And that's why it isn't a pragmatic proposal. The average voter isn't going to think "hey, that's a nifty and cleaver word game that kind of looks like a solution", they're going to think "great, now the queers want everyone to downgrade their marriage to that fake civil union crap". If this proposal gets even 15% of the vote I"ll be stunned.

Its also not pragmatic because its working from the false assumption that the problem the bigots have is with the queers using the word "marriage", that like magic, if everyone just stops talking about the real issue, hides behind some newspeak nonsense, the bigots will calm down and everything will be just peachy keen fine and dandy.

And that's a completely unrealistic line of thinking. The bigots don't hate the idea of homosexuals being married, they hate the idea of homosexuals having equal rights. Why do you think so many "defense of marriage" laws and amendments have also specifically outlawed civil unions, domestic partnerships, and anything and everything else that might gives homosexuals equal rights?

It doesn't matter what you call it, if it gives Adam and Steve the same rights as Bob and Carol they'll hate it and fight it with every dirty trick they can come up with. *STARTING* with the almost inevitable to succeed campaign to paint the proposal as an evil queer movement to take marriage away from everyone.
Close up: male and female hands, with wedding rings, clutched lovingly but with an obvious tension.
Voice over: After California defended marriage from the homosexual agenda they've revealed their true goal: eradicating marriage.
Fade to concerned looking older couple (ideally non-white): We've been married for 40 years, and now the homosexual activists want to take that away from us. Please, save our marriage and yours. Vote no on Proposition X
Thus the "pragmatic" proposal goes down in flames, scraping up at best 10%-15% of the vote. Yup, really pragmatic there.

My point here is that there's two ways to deal with inequity. The first is to raise everyone to the level of the formerly privileged. The other is to lower everyone to the level of the formerly unprivileged, and whether you agree or not I, and pretty much everyone else is going to see this proposal as a way of lowering everyone, not raising everyone. You may think your word games are just a way to try to sidestep a vicious fight with the bigots. But they aren't, they're nothing but the Harrison Bergeron approach to equality, and you won't fool any voters into thinking otherwise.

Yes, I'm ideologically opposed to anything that looks like capitulation to the bigots, and as I said, for that reason alone I'd oppose this idea. But from a purely pragmatic standpoint this proposal simply will not work, which means it isn't really pragmatic at all. No one wants to downgrade to ersatz marriage, and everyone knows that's what "civil unions" means: fake marriage, marriage substitute. As I said at the beginning, maybe if those things hadn't been pushed as fake marriages for so long you'd have a chance, but they have been and you don't. People want to be married, not civil unionized, and you aren't going to convince them that they're wrong.
posted by sotonohito at 9:35 AM on March 15, 2009


OK, sotonohito, do you propose doing anything but sitting and waiting for a lawsuit to bring about a high-court decision granting marriage equality? Because that's essentially the only option left. Just ask Canada.
posted by oaf at 9:40 AM on March 15, 2009


If that's what it takes. It did so in the Loving case and we can (almost) all see just how backward anti-miscegenation laws were now. Nothing less than equality. No second class terms.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:03 AM on March 15, 2009


Nothing less than equality.

Again, this proposal cannot be criticized on those grounds. It provides complete equality.
posted by oaf at 10:07 AM on March 15, 2009


not at all. I propose activism, lawsuits, protests, propositions, whatever we can do. But yes, in the end its most likely it'll have to come down from the courts. Same as it did with interracial marriage.

We might win (have won) a few state victories, but currently the DoMA, and the fact that the Supremes will likely refuse to enforce the full faith and credit clause, means that nothing short of court action will get us anything.

Certainly NewSpeak word games won't win us anything, and they may hurt the cause. Worse, anything that can be painted as trying to take marriage away from straight people is the best gift you can possibly give the bigots and will likely cost us support.
posted by sotonohito at 10:10 AM on March 15, 2009


Look I understand where you're coming from oaf, but this isn't our fight. If gay people want unequivocal victory on this subject who are we to say they should take a compromise? I would take it, I really would. But then again it's not my problem, at least directly. I support gay rights for civil unions all the way up to marriage. I think they have the right to any of it. I'll stop short of gay rights to rock all night, and party every day though. You gotta draw the line somewhere.
posted by nola at 10:16 AM on March 15, 2009


Second class citizen... separate class of schools for black and white people... equality in name only... throwing gay people a bone... appeasement of bigotry and hatred...
I'm going to go with the "troll or idiot" option at this point.


I'm going with "hasn't experienced what really happens when this is done."

The word "married" has way more meaning and use than the one the churches wish to see. The churches are never going to win the exclusive use of the word.

I think Talez will find that the separation of State and Church will work out very well in his favour, and that it'll be the rare bigot indeed who goes out of his way to disclaim Talez's "marriage." And he's never going to debigotize people.

By simple virtue of living together and filing a joint tax return, my wife and I are considered married in every situation we've encountered, be it social, medical, legal, or financial. There is no discrimination against us, even though we've done less to formalize our relationship than Talez will have if this law goes through.

Honestly, people, there are countries that have gone through this debate and come out the other side. If you want to know what will happen, look at what has happened.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


who are we to say they should take a compromise?

I still don't see how this is a compromise. The proposal to do what is essentially a glorified find/replace on all California law provides, on a state level, complete equality. Complaining that California doesn't have the power to modify federal law or the law of other states completely misses the mark.
posted by oaf at 10:32 AM on March 15, 2009


Yes, but it won't work. It won't happen.

Look, I can really appreciate the urge to try to find a game changing superweapon. Because right now we're locked in a stalemate, with occasional bitter losses to the bigots. But this proposal isn't going to change the game, it isn't going to bring us victory. It is, quite simply, a bad and unworkable idea.

I appreciate the thinking involved, its an elegant concept, its got that nice jujitsu turn their strength against them type angle, its got the high minded, above the fray aura that appeals to a lot of people, and for those us despirate for a victory, for something to just END this whole awful mess its got the appeal that (theoretically) it'd do just that. But its a) not going to pass, ever, and b) would fuck things up horribly if it ever did pass.

Because doing a glorified find/replace on California state law is going to do little but make California state law incompatible with every other law not merely in the USA, but planetwide. Unless you can convince the fed, and our various treaty partners to do a similar find/replace, all you've really done is made life miserable for every Californian. And given the bigots tons of ammo about how the evil gay rights advocates really hate marriage. That's not a victory, game changing or otherwise.
posted by sotonohito at 10:43 AM on March 15, 2009


doing a glorified find/replace on California state law is going to do little but make California state law incompatible with every other law not merely in the USA, but planetwide

Unlikely. Saying that a man and a woman in a hypothetical California domestic partnership aren't married in jurisdictions that recognize marriage is like arguing that Massachusetts isn't a state because it's a commonwealth.
posted by oaf at 10:50 AM on March 15, 2009


Its saying "ok, you bigots are too powerful to defeat so we're letting you keep the Special Word."

The problem with "marriage" is that it is, in fact, a "special" word. It has two separate and distinct meanings, and the conflation of those meanings that happens in public discourse does not serve the goals of gay rights advocates.

Civil "marriage" - the granting of rights by the state to two people - is distinct and separate from religious "marriage". As a gay secular humanist type of guy, I am only interested in the first. I don't care at all about the second. Some religious people only care about the second and not the first. But those people will vote against my right to the first, because to them the two meanings overlap. They may be afraid of having to accept my civil "marriage" within their meaning for the word. And that simply doesn't suit my interests.

To me - a gay man who's been "married" to the same guy for twenty-one years - this bill is perfect. I want the rights. I don't care about the word. The rights are what matters. And if I can get the rights by ceding the word "marriage" to religion, that's fine with me, because everyone else will be doing the same thing under this proposal. The use of the word itself doesn't convey any rights under this proposal, except the right to practice the religion of your choice.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:56 AM on March 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't care about the word. The rights are what matters. And if I can get the rights by ceding the word "marriage" to religion, that's fine with me
And you wouldn't even have to do that. You could call yourself "married" all you want, just like you do today.

The difference is not that you have ceded the word "marriage"; it's that the word "marriage" will have legal meaning removed.
posted by Flunkie at 11:00 AM on March 15, 2009


And in that sense, if anyone, it's the religious nuts who have lost something by this; they have lost legal endorsement of their prejudices.

Meanwhile, to repeat, you have not lost the word "marriage".
posted by Flunkie at 11:02 AM on March 15, 2009


The use of the word itself doesn't convey any rights under this proposal, except the right to practice the religion of your choice.

It conveys meaning and tradition that some of us would like to be able to keep without being part of a religion. Remember that this would discriminate against atheists too. And those are my rights being tread upon.

The word is not religious. And under equal rights, churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, whatever wouldn't be forced to marry gays or atheists.

The right to practice the religion of your choice is already there. This proposal wouldn't grant it, it already exists. And neither would extending real equality interfere with religious practice.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:05 AM on March 15, 2009


It conveys meaning and tradition that some of us would like to be able to keep without being part of a religion.
So keep it. This law doesn't stop you from doing so.
posted by Flunkie at 11:07 AM on March 15, 2009


So keep it. This law doesn't stop you from doing so.

Of course it does. This law makes it so my marriage wouldn't be recognized and I'd be forced into a "civil union" or "domestic partnership" or some other second class term in order to do so.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:09 AM on March 15, 2009


Of course it does. This law makes it so my marriage wouldn't be recognized
I'm sorry, I thought your complaint was that you would like to be able to keep a word that conveys meaning and tradition that you would like to be able to keep, not that you wanted a law defining that word.

But if all you want is a law defining that word, you're right, this bill won't help you. In fact, it will make things worse for you, since it will remove the definition of that word from the current law.

So, I suggest that you work to keep the situation as it is today, in which the law does define that word. It does so to the exclusion of millions of people, but hey, I guess those are the breaks when you want the law to define your word for you.
posted by Flunkie at 11:17 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Saying that a man and a woman in a hypothetical California domestic partnership aren't married in jurisdictions that recognize marriage is like arguing that Massachusetts isn't a state because it's a commonwealth.

Speaking of Massachusetts, MA gay-marriages AREN'T recognized as marriages federally. You can't, f'rinstance, immigrate as a same-sex spouse of a MA resident.

So, yeah, this could be tricky if the wording was changed. Even if gay marriage IS recognized as marriage, it's still not 100% equal. Making it more difficult to be recognized federally isn't going to help. Especially if it also makes it difficult for straight couples to access federally granted (as opposed to state granted) marriage rights. Sure, you can see that it's the same thing, but the wording of laws is a tricky thing and opening them up for interpretation is asking to redefine marriage, something I think that the US is about as ready to do as it is to send a pig to the moon.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:54 AM on March 15, 2009


Remember that this would discriminate against atheists too.

What an absurd notion. The proposal does not discriminate on the basis of anything, including religion.

Insisting that it's your word, and yours alone, to tell others how to use, puts you in the same camp as the supporters of Proposition 8. It's becoming increasingly apparent that you're doing this in the face of all reasoned argument to the contrary, and it's approaching the silliness of trying to rename bread after your mother.
posted by oaf at 11:58 AM on March 15, 2009


Kind of like the time you refused to acknowledge that AIDS is a problem in the gay community because it would give ammo to bigots... with friends like you, the gay community hardly needs enemies.

You're damaged in the brain, KKKrlson. I never said any such thing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:22 PM on March 15, 2009


I'm under the impression that in Canada, you must obtain the civil certificate if you want your religious marriage to be recognized as a marriage. Otherwise, it's not considered a marriage until you do the things that those of us who aren't civil-licensed do, ie.) live together for whatever the time period is, submit a joint tax return, etc.

Which indicates to me that marriage is, in fact, a civil law deal, and has pretty much nothing to do with churches.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:07 PM on March 15, 2009


I think Talez will find that the separation of State and Church will work out very well in his favour, and that it'll be the rare bigot indeed who goes out of his way to disclaim Talez's "marriage." And he's never going to debigotize people.

By simple virtue of living together and filing a joint tax return, my wife and I are considered married in every situation we've encountered, be it social, medical, legal, or financial. There is no discrimination against us, even though we've done less to formalize our relationship than Talez will have if this law goes through.

Honestly, people, there are countries that have gone through this debate and come out the other side. If you want to know what will happen, look at what has happened.


FYI. I'm not gay. I just think inequality is so utterly retarded.
posted by Talez at 3:21 PM on March 15, 2009


Speaking of Massachusetts, MA gay-marriages AREN'T recognized as marriages federally. You can't, f'rinstance, immigrate as a same-sex spouse of a MA resident.

So, yeah, this could be tricky if the wording was changed. Even if gay marriage IS recognized as marriage, it's still not 100% equal. Making it more difficult to be recognized federally isn't going to help.


Are you seriously imagining some future America where gay marriage has been recognized at the federal level, but where the Californian couples (straight and gay) are left out in the cold?

There's no way the feds would leave millions of straight Californian couples effectively "unmarried." Federal law would be changed in a heartbeat to recognize "Domestic Partnership" as equivalent to "marriage" in Federal law. Would they extend that recognition to gay "Domestic partners"? Probably not, initially. But when they do, eventually, extend it to all gay couples in the country, it's absurd to think that they'll say "o.k.--those gays in MA get their marriages recognized, but we draw the line at that weirdo "Domestic partnership" stuff from CA."

Gay marriage will come to California one way or the other, of course. Prop 8 passed by only the barest of margins, and it looks as though the CA Supreme Court will leave the currently married gay couples married--a painful anomaly that will look more absurd with every passing day. The voters who voted Yes on 8 are steadily dying off (so radical is correlation of age to support for Prop 8 that you really only have to wait a year or two for the pro-gay-marriage forces to be a majority). If this measure fails (as I suspect it will--the arguments made in this thread--largely fighting straw men as they are--look to be likely to carry the day) it will be followed in the near future by a "repeal Prop 8" proposition that will pass. So, in the great scheme of things, I don't think that this is a very big deal (by "this" I mean the particular strategy used to effect an outcome of marriage equality--the equality issue itself is obviously enormously important).

That said, I still like this move in principle. I think it's better for the state to keep it's involvement in such personal matters to as neutral and basic a level as possible (you know, the whole 'keep your laws off my body' and 'separation of church and state' attitudes that on most other issues usually rule the day on Metafilter). The state has no reason to care if my partner and I call ourselves "married" or "living together" or "in the blessed state of serene unification" or "grokked." All it should care about is the contractual implications of our shared life. Even if there was no such thing as homosexuality and no such thing as homosexual couples, I'd be all for the state "getting out of the marriage business." The fact that it also could be a way forward on this issue that, ideally, would allow for less damage to be done to inter-community relationships is simply a nice bonus. Reading this thread has made me realize, though, that there is a significant group of people for whom "sticking it to the fundies" is one of the keenly anticipated rewards of marriage equality.
posted by yoink at 4:40 PM on March 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


It does so to the exclusion of millions of people

Which is why a change is needed to allow all couples to marry, regardless of sexual orientation.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:45 PM on March 15, 2009


A change *in the law
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:45 PM on March 15, 2009


It does so to the exclusion of millions of people
Which is why a change is needed to allow all couples to marry, regardless of sexual orientation.
Which is the entire purpose of this bill.

Were it enacted, the state would no longer say who can and cannot marry. Hence, all couples would be allowed to marry, regardless of sexual orientation.

I'm sorry to be blunt, but do you honestly not understand this?
posted by Flunkie at 5:19 PM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean, really, your argument seems akin to "We shouldn't pass a universal health care bill, because we need to change the law to make sure everyone has health care".
posted by Flunkie at 5:21 PM on March 15, 2009


Do you not understand that this proposal would NOT allow everyone to marry, it would allow the religious to marry and the rest of us to "civilly unite" or some second class term.

Full marriage rights under the law for everyone, not dancing around it and capitulating.

You seem like the one who genuinely doesn't get it. It's simple - allow everyone to marry under the current law.

Why are you against that?
posted by cmgonzalez at 7:10 PM on March 15, 2009


Do you not understand that this proposal would NOT allow everyone to marry, it would allow the religious to marry and the rest of us to "civilly unite" or some second class term.
Oh, good lord.

Yes, I don't understand that, because it's not true.

Have you read the proposal? It's not very long. Please read it, and please show me exactly where it says that only religious people can marry.

(Here's a hint: You're not going to find a place that it says that.)
You seem like the one who genuinely doesn't get it. It's simple - allow everyone to marry under the current law.

Why are you against that?
Why do you assume that I am against that?

I'm sorry, but I'm done with this conversation. I am dangerously close to becoming much ruder than I have been thus far. So I'm done. Goodbye.
posted by Flunkie at 7:42 PM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you not understand that this proposal would NOT allow everyone to marry, it would allow the religious to marry and the rest of us to "civilly unite" or some second class term.

Christ on a pogo stick.

Like Flunkie, I'm close to getting rude.

The government authorizes a "civil union." It's the only legally recognized couple partnership. The religious ceremony is not a legally recognized partnership unless it is accompanied by the signing of government documents: it is the signing of the "civil union" that legalizes the entire thing. Without that document, you are not actually married.

Meanwhile, those of us in real life ignore this civil union/religious ceremony distinction entirely: in real life, there's only "married," and that term applies to every couple who is living together, sharing finances, planning a life together, etcetera.

Further, the government goes a step further and burdens couples with legal obligations just by virtue of their having lived together for a period of time.

My wife and I have not, of course, had any religious ceremony. And we have not signed any government documents, out of spite toward the very idea that a government should have any ability to approve or disapprove a couple partnership.

But because we've lived together for twenty-odd years, because we submit joint tax returns, because we co-own our home, and all that jazz: we're married. In the eyes of the government and the law and all of society that isn't religiously-batshitinsane, we're subject to all the legal responsibilities and rights of a couple who has signed the civil union documents.

FFS. Pull your heads out of your asses, people. There are countries that have gone through this debate and come out the other side. If you want to know what will happen, look at what has happened.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:49 PM on March 15, 2009


I feel the need to point out yet again that this whole "marriage" debate developed in reaction to "domestic partnerships" way back almost 20 years ago. It's not the case that US culture suddenly developed a backlash around the term "marriage" in response to uppity queers. When gay and lesbian couples started getting equal recognition for their relationships in some cases, jurisdictions, and with some employers, the right moved with legislation to attack domestic partnerships, even where marriage was not even contemplated.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:36 AM on March 16, 2009


it is the signing of the "civil union" that legalizes the entire thing. Without that document, you are not actually married.

You are not actually "married" if you sign a "civil union" document. You are "civilly united". Second class term.

The entire point is this proposal is complete capitulation in giving the religious the term "marriage". I'm not talking about only legal issues. Giving them the term marriage is not equality. What IS equality is just letting everyone MARRY. Not civilly unite, not create a legal domestic partnership, not any other bullshit term that dances around the issue of equality.

And your point about common-law marriage is false. That whole thing about owning a home together, paying taxes, etc, only holds true in 11 states. In any state outside those 11, you would not be considered married in any way.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:17 AM on March 16, 2009


And Flunkie has been rude throughout the entire post. As has oaf. I do not see the point of rudeness as it merely blurs actual discussion.

But I suppose an impasse has been reached between those of us desiring full equality and willing to fight for it, and those who see capitulation over terms as an easy way out.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:22 AM on March 16, 2009


And... the right's current vow to rally behind opposition to a possible Presidential signing order that would give health benefits to domestic partners of employees (something that Federal courts had mandated but the Bush Administration ignored) belies their rhetoric that they have no beef with domestic partnerships.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:35 AM on March 16, 2009


the right moved with legislation to attack domestic partnerships, even where marriage was not even contemplated

While we argue about the hypothetical benefit of this second-class arrangement, the wording of laws already written by straights to redefine the meaning of such a relationship bears repeating.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:39 AM on March 16, 2009


giving the religious the term "marriage"

How does this proposition do that? Perhaps if you could spell that out, it would help people understand your point.
posted by yoink at 9:43 AM on March 16, 2009


What IS equality is just letting everyone MARRY.

THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THIS PROPOSAL WOULD DO. IT LETS PEOPLE MARRY AS THEY PLEASE.

Not civilly unite, not create a legal domestic partnership, not any other bullshit term that dances around the issue of equality.

Given that the proposal guarantees equality if enacted, you're quibbling about a distinction without a difference.

And Flunkie has been rude throughout the entire post. As has oaf. I do not see the point of rudeness as it merely blurs actual discussion.

Perhaps we're being rude because you're either trolling the thread or you just don't get it. It's not "actual discussion" when several people debunk a point you make and then you go on like we haven't said anything.

But I suppose an impasse has been reached between those of us desiring full equality and willing to fight for it, and those who see capitulation over terms as an easy way out.

Again, the proposal guarantees full equality. The concept is not that hard to grasp. I'm sorry if you don't understand the proposal, but stop pretending that we don't.
posted by oaf at 10:14 AM on March 16, 2009


I'm back.
Flunkie has been rude throughout the entire post.
That's a lie.

Goodbye again.
posted by Flunkie at 10:29 AM on March 16, 2009


I don't know why we need ANY governmental regulation or registration of any of our domestic arrangements. If you want to buy a house with someone, there's already a perfectly workable contract for doing that. If you wish to have a child with someone, you can make a contract to define custody rights and responsibilities. If you want to designate someone your next of kin, medical representative, or heir, you can do it in a will or living will. We have plenty of legal instruments we can use to convey "partnership" or other privileges to whomever we want, and those are generally available even to poor folks.

And I'm goddamned sick of people getting various tax penalties or benefits based on whether they choose to shack up or procreate. The State should not be in the business of rewarding or docking us for life choices.

The only real problem is in designating people as dependents or family members for purposes of health insurance coverage, but if we fixed it so that each person had access to care regardless of her/his living arrangements, then that becomes a non-issue.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:17 PM on March 16, 2009


I'm outta this one, too. When the rubber meets the road, society calls people who live together as a couple "married" regardless whether the marriage included a religious component, a civil component, or even if they're "just" shacked up. It's just plain stupid to think a civil union is going to be considered "second class."
posted by five fresh fish at 5:26 PM on March 16, 2009


The idea I got in France about their civil unions was that it was a legitimate alternative to marriage that was popular especially with the young, same sex, or unreligious.

There are some things I think we should emulate the europeans in, and this is one of them.
(others are public transit systems and paternity leave)
posted by rubah at 6:08 PM on March 16, 2009


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