To same-sex marriage
Monday, June 18, 2012
By Lev Shakhmundes
The event that prompted this reflection was an Intelligence Squared Debate televised by the BBC from Sydney, Australia. “Same-sex marriage should not be legalized”, was the notion put for debate.
Passionate emotions were emitted by the debaters as well as in the questions and comments from the audience.
Notable to me was the unambiguous reasoning in the presentation and further comments by one of the four designated debaters, Professor Annamarie Jagose, the University of Sydney. The train of her reasoning went from pointing to the long-drawn-out weakening of the institution of marriage generally, to questioning, as a result, the importance of the subject in question, and to suggesting that the subject is in effect a distraction from dealing with real ills in the social condition.
It would be difficult to argue with the above. We, however, are going to approach the subject of same-sex marriage from a different perspective, coming from recognition that it has been fuelling a serious and long-lingering societal conflict, which would better be resolved.
There are two primary opposing parties in the conflict.
One party draws its conviction from religion, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and even does not accept homosexuality as such. The devotion of the party to their cause may not be taken lightly. To neglect it would be harmful to a politician, especially in the United States of America, where a speech by a politician invariably ends up with “God bless America.”
The other party draws its strength from the ongoing advancements in human rights. Also, the acceptance by general public of homosexuality as a way of life is widening. It is understood that same-sex attraction it is not a matter of choice, but rather a consequence of nature’s handing some people that deck of cards. All in all, the gay and lesbian constituency becomes more and more influential in politics.
This brings us to conviction that it would be naïve to hope for persuading either party to a submission with public debates, or even with legislative measures. We would rather look for wisdom in the channels of political governance. (Is this not naïve? The quest for wisdom in governance was eluding us throughout the work on A Better Organization. Nevertheless, being master of this domain, we will continue.)
The wisdom would be in a compromise. The seeds of such can be found in the state legislatures of the U.S. Specifically, "several states allow civil unions, providing state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples." And, "several states have also expanded the legal rights available to spouses in same-sex relationships while also limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples with civil unions and domestic partnerships."
Do you get a drift? We can identify two essential elements for the compromise. (1) Do not use the word marriage for same-sex couples. (2) Afford spousal rights to same-sex couples.
I submit, these two elements would be sufficient for a productive compromise. Although objections on both sides will continue for a while, they will die down because each side will eventually feel appeased with achieving their primary goal. Namely, no same-sex marriage is in place to contradict the tenets of religion; all the benefits, to which married couples are entitled, are afforded to same-sex couples.
We have finished with the subject at hand. On the tangent, however, we can stretch our imagination even further. Two men, or two women, or a woman and a man who do not consider getting married, have decided to cohabitate for the sake of economizing on living expenses, sharing household work, leaning on each other in sickness and in other difficult situations. We, again, can see seeds for recognizing such a union in the U.S. legislative experience with a mention of "domestic partnerships" in a quotation above.
See? We started a new movement. It is for the right of any two people to enter into a civil union, with entitlement to the desired benefits. We have to recognize, regretfully, that such a movement will not go far. This is because we cannot envision a constituency determined enough for carrying the banner.
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