Allowing Respectful Adjustments

The solution that David Benkof describes is one that I’ve been suggesting for years:

The 30 constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, including Proposition 8 in California, are a direct result of the lawsuits-for-marriage strategy practiced by gays and lesbians since the mid-Nineties, including successful suits in Massachusetts, California and Connecticut. So achieving marriage in three gay-friendly states (two now that Proposition 8 has passed in California) came at the expense of barring marriage in 10 times as many states, many much less hospitable to same-sex couples.
Worse, 18 of the constitutional amendments, in places like Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin, bar not only marriage but any kind of rights specifically for same-sex couples. That means that even in gay-popular cities like Austin, Texas, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, there can be no benefits for gay and lesbian couples unless and until those statewide amendments are repealed — an unlikely scenario. …
… a coalition of concerned politicians from both left and right have come together in Salt Lake City with a plan that can be a model for those concerned about the problems faced by same-sex couples anywhere. Guided by Democratic Mayor Ralph Becker, the “mutual commitments” plan was approved with both liberal and conservative support in the city council and the state legislature. It provides a package of rights, including hospital visitation and health care, to any two people who can show financial interdependence. The pair can be a mother and adult daughter, two straight male roommates or lesbian lovers.
The government doesn’t ask — and doesn’t care — which.

Of course, resolving some of the egregious shortcomings of current law would decrease the arsenal of emotion-based rhetoric in the service of full radical social change and is therefore not likely to be tolerated by the forces of tolerance. And so, people will continue to suffer for the cause.

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David
David
13 years ago

You said “Of course, resolving some of the egregious shortcomings of current law would decrease the arsenal of emotion-based rhetoric in the service of full radical social change and is therefore not likely to be tolerated by the forces of tolerance. And so, people will continue to suffer for the cause.”
Please explain this in plain speak. The definition of marriage to me has always hinged on certain religious beliefs. The definition of marriage needs to be seperated from its various religious meanings and acquire a new legal definition that squares with this country’s concept of individual’s rights
We are in a new place and a new time. I respect a religion’s right to decide certain creeds for themselves but not their right to impose them in the public square. I am for same sex marriage.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

You’re skipping past the practical point of the post. You and I disagree on whether the opposite-sex definition is ultimately founded on religious principles that cannot be held sacrosanct in the law. Inasmuch as religion and government are two intrinsic faces of a society, a pivotal institution such as marriage will clearly have echoes in each.
What same-sex marriage advocates (and you) are arguing is that, not only ought their private view (ultimately founded in their own spiritual truths) replace the traditional view in the culture and law, but their view is so clearly objective that it ought to be enforceable through the ostensibly objective mechanism of the judiciary. You are declaring for yourself the tyrannical right to put a flag in the new place and time and force your own worldview on those who disagree with you.
What I’ve argued in the past, and what this group in Utah is currently arguing, is that there are indeed rights and privileges held by married couples that ought to be expanded, but that doing so needn’t affect the definition of marriage. If two people offer each other mutual care to the extent that they’re financially intertwined, then there’s no reason their relationship must be sexual in order to justify insurance, inheritance, visitation, and other rights.
This argument isn’t going to fly among those who profess to advocate for people in alternative relationships because it would remove a significant complaint that they have positioned centrally in their cause. It would also solidify, in the public mind, that it is possible to recognize relationships as having value, but as not being equivalent to marriage as it has traditionally been understood.

David
David
13 years ago

Justin, your points well taken. What I am saying is that even if marriage has to this point in our nation’s history been a christian construct, it does not mean that the legal definition of marriage should continue to be held hostage to one religious belief or another. We have to expand our legal definition beyond particular preducices- even if they are majority- to fully incorporate our nation’s stated beliefs in human rights.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

You continue to elide two aspects of marriage. The first question to ask is whether the male-female sexual relationship is sufficiently unique, on its own, that religious undertones are more incidental than decisive. I would argue that it is, because only a man and a woman can create human life, even carelessly and a near absence of intention. Only a man and woman can combine their selves (whether in spiritual terms, biological, or social) into a new human being joining the two genetic and familial strains.
Unless you’re willing to declare that men and women are interchangeable in every way (in which case I’d call you insane), you have to acknowledge that there is a case to be made for opposite-sex marriage without reference to religion. In other words, it isn’t a matter of prejudice — any more than any other objective differentiation requires a degree of judgment — to state that society ought maintain the possibility of holding that unique relationship up as something different than every other.
That being the case, it compromises competing belief systems (yours and mine) to acknowledge value in other forms of relationships, but with the distinction intact.

bobc
bobc
13 years ago

What I am saying is that even if marriage has to this point in our nation’s history been a christian construct, it does not mean that the legal definition of marriage should continue to be held hostage to one religious belief or another. We have to expand our legal definition beyond particular preducices- even if they are majority- to fully incorporate our nation’s stated beliefs in human rights.
David,
First of all our nation’s stated beliefs, as concerning human rights, are stated in the Constitution. If we are to change any portion of that, we must do so within the confines of the law. Contrary to your belief, the process for changing that requires that 38 of the 50 states ratify any new addition. That means not only a majority, but a super-majority. Those who wish to forgo that venue and try other ways to accomplish their objective will forever be fighting the battle, sometimes winning and sometimes losing.

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