Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why We Lost Prop 8 and How We Can Win Gay Civil Rights and Marriage Equality – A Countdown of Political New Year's Resolutions! #4: Civil Rights & God

Reason Four:


Whoops. Let me try that again.


Nope, one more time:


See, it's sticky.

When a friend of 18 years told us they couldn’t vote against Prop 8 because of their strong religious convictions, despite their love for us and their respect for our being a couple, it made me realize that Prop 8 had become a referendum on whether you were voting against Jesus and God himself by changing the “traditional” definition of marriage.

Never mind that in the Old and New Testament’s definition of marriage, romantic love didn’t play a role at all, and women were pretty much property.

Somehow, allowing Gays to marry would devalue the legitimacy of THEIR marriages. The whole idea of the separation of church and state, that the vote was about CIVIL marriages, was completely ignored. Marriage – the religious tied up with the civil – was sacred, and we Gays were trespassing.

Yet slavery was okay in the Bible, and we’ve decided it’s not okay in our world today.

Divorce was NOT okay in the Bible, and still 34% of born again Christians have been divorced.

Clearly, even evangelicals are able to distinguish between civil and religious laws, which leads us to this

New Years Resolution: We must define our struggle for Gay Rights as a Civil One.

Perhaps this could get our point across: If marriage was exclusively religious for EVERYONE, and the government changed EVERYONE'S "Marriage" to a "civil union," we could truly keep the civil and religious recognition of marriage separate (for gay AND STRAIGHT people!)

Perhaps if all those social conservatives who voted to change California's (and other states') constitutions to prevent Same-Gender marriage were faced with their own marriages being "down-graded" to civil unions, the whole "separate-but-equal" argument would fall on it's face.

Our country has no idea how to do "separate-but-equal."

Civil marriage for everyone.

Or no one.

And let everyone have Civil Unions.

Now there's a rallying cry!


Anonymous said...

It has long been my opinion that the government should participate in "marriage" only as an enforcer of contracts: labeling all legally sanctioned domestic partnerships as civil unions would do exactly that. If you wanted yours to be a marriage, you'd declare it so yourself or talk to your religious official of choice. I look forward to a day when this is how it works.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. As far as I'm concerned, the government's role in marriage shouldn't have anything to do with love, sex, gender, commitment, sanctity, or anything that doesn't boil down to the legal nitty gritty. Since the word "marriage" is so charged for so many people, let's drop it from the books. I'd be first in line to "downgrade."

Sarah Laurenson said...

Absolutely. Civil Union as the contract you make with another human being and file with the state should be the same for all. And civil union is as good of a term as some of the others.

Marriage can be left to churches who can decide who they do and do not wish to marry. Some churches already limit who they allow to marry under their auspices. This would not be any different. But marriage in this respect would carry no legal ramifications. It would be a purely religious, ceremonial affair. That will keep that 'traditional' marriage sacred even though there really is no such thing as a traditional church marriage. I read a good article about the history of marriage that was very clear about how the churches looked down on it. Maybe I even read it here. Dunno.

Rita said...

Very nicely put.

I would not be first in line for a "downgrade." I am not particularly religious, but what I got in our society was married. Maybe, it turns out, my not-particularly-religious ceremony didn't qualify (and after all I went through to join in this social institution, too!), but there has always been a hierarchy implied in using this different term civil union. Asking the currently married people whether they'd be okay with switching would drive the point home nicely.