Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Civil Unions for All
In the debate about whether the constitution should sanction gay marriage, I haven't heard anyone flip the argument. Namely, what business is it of government to sanction marriage at all? The actual benefits government affords to married couples are secular (and mainly financial). From a civic point of view, the contractural bond has nothing to do with religion or morality.
The complaint against government-sanctioned gay marriage isn't contractural, it's religious. By sizeable margins, most Americans endorse civil unions. The beef isn't really with the rights granted to the civilly-joined--it's that marriage implies a moral or religious endorsement. (Why the complainers don't complain about weddings conducted by justices of the peace isn't as clear, but let's leave that aside for now.)
A modest proposal: government should grant licenses for civil unions. County officials don't ask what will happen under the sheets, they just check to make sure everyone's over 18. Seems that reasonable people can agree that, really, government shouldn't have much more of a role.
The sacrament part of it falls under the purview of religion, and governent can happily keep its nose out. Let the sacrament be judged by those who actually all believe the same general rules--practitioners of religious faiths.
Inheritance is the business of government, theology the business of religion. The two seem to function so much more ably when they don't conflate their purpose or scope.