The Way the Marriage Battle Should Be Resolved
It appears already to be doomed, but this bill is precisely how state governments should go about addressing hardship experienced by couples that cannot marry:
Sponsored by Rep. Peter Petrarca, D-Lincoln, the bill would allow “any two … unmarried persons who are excluded” from marrying under state law to establish “reciprocal beneficiary agreements” that allow their partners to oversee issues such as emergency medical care, medical decisions and decisions on “the disposition” of a person’s remains.
The relationship formed in homosexual couples is different in substantive ways from the relationship formed between heterosexual couples, most critically in the latter’s ability to create children almost casually. It is not bigotry to insist that such an ability is not frivolous, and it is eminently reasonable to suggest that civic policies should maintain room for the encouragement of cultural acknowledgment of that difference. Doing so does not “create two classes,” as Marriage Equality Rhode Island spokesman Bill Fischer asserts; it accurately recognizes two categories of behavior.
There are rights, however, to which people who’ve taken on the responsibility of caring for each other should have access, but they should be assessed on their individual merits. That appears to be what Petrarca’s legislation would do.
It’s interesting to note, by the way, which group is the de facto moderate in the local debate:
The Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage, a traditional marriage-advocacy group, supports the bill, said its executive director, Christopher Plante.
“We don’t oppose it. We think that it’s a good way to try to address some of those issues that gays and lesbians, and not only gays and lesbians, have when they try to assign rights to significant others,” said Plante, who also did not attend the hearing.
Perhaps on an emotional level it’s true, but intellectually, the same-sex marriage cause is not about equal rights; it’s about erasing a real distinction between two different human relationships. And it’s about eliminating the right of Americans to recognize that distinction.