The Unspoken Definition of Civil Unions

As a general rule, I think it best that legislators resist penning bills if they find themselves writing around the thing or quality that motivated them to put pen to statehouse stationary in the first place. Consider the proposed legislation (PDF) to which Marc linked earlier.
It defines “marriage” as “the legally recognized union of one man and one woman,” but it offers no similar definition for civil unions (e.g., “one man and one man, or one woman and one woman”). Stumbling along with the unspoken left unsaid, the bill goes so far as to forbid women from civil uniting with female relatives and men from doing so with male relatives (just as current RI law forbids men from marrying female relatives and women male), but if opposite-sex couples can enter into civil unions — which is nowhere forbidden in the proposed legislation — then people could civil unite with relatives of the opposite sex.
This oversight (as I’m reasonably confident it is) relates to the reason that I’ve long stressed that my potential support for civil unions applies only if they are drawn out in the law without reference to marriage. Both those who support and those who oppose civil unions ought to be in favor of requiring that the public debate address what, exactly, is being sought and what qualities suggest particular rights and privileges.

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mrh
mrh
14 years ago

I had the same thought reading the draft you posted. Seemed like a silly oversight.
Kinda makes you think, rather than try to craft a civil unions statue by copying and pasting from the marriage law, why not just expand marriage to same-sex couples?

smmtheory
smmtheory
14 years ago

MRH,
Marriage cannot encompass something that does not exist. Redefining marriage to mean something it is not would make marriage-law redundant.

mrh
mrh
14 years ago

smmtheory: You’ve confused me.

smmtheory
smmtheory
14 years ago

You can’t blame me MRH, you started from a point of confusion. Without the ability to procreate (make children in secular terms), there can be no marriage. Two people of the same sex don’t have the sexual equipment to do that, so, no marriage. It’s that simple. If marriage law is expanded to include same sex couples, then it just becomes another form of contract law. Two forms of contract law are redundant.

mrh
mrh
14 years ago

SMM, I was hoping to have a more interesting debate than this, frankly. I’m still willing if you’re willing to engage a bit more earnestly.
“Without the ability to procreate (make children in secular terms), there can be no marriage.” — this is an assertion, and it’s far from universally accepted.
“If marriage law is expanded to include same sex couples, then it just becomes another form of contract law. Two forms of contract law are redundant.” — I’m not a lawyer, but there’s no way that follows, right?

smmtheory
smmtheory
14 years ago

Of course it is far from universally accepted! That doesn’t negate the authenticity of the fact. Many people don’t accept the fact that Hitler had millions of Jews killed in an attempt to exterminate them. That doesn’t make it any less true. Fact can’t be debated. Merit can. Now explain the merit of having the state pretend that two men can be married to each other or pretend that two women can be married to each other… and try to do it without relying on that tired old canard of it being to protect their children (which have incidentally been ripped away from one of their biological parents in the process).

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