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It seems to me that a large part of the opposition to same-sex marriage is based on religious grounds. We should just acknowledge that marriage is a religious institution and get the state out of it entirely. The state should certify civil unions only. The difference between marriage and civil union would no longer be merely semantic: it would reinforce the wall between church and state. (I would still support same-sex marriage, but that would no longer be a legal issue.)

Originally posted to zillion on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 09:15 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Agreed! (none)
    Then my synagogue sanctioned marriage would be fine and the Reform Synagogues of America would be on equal footing with the Catholic Church!

    Civil marriage certificates, of course, would have to be applied for separately, and everyone would have to conjoin in front of a judge or a ship captain or a civic official and then, if they wanted to, they could marry in front of a religious officiate.

    Where do I sign?

    Stop fascism in America. Vote Democratic. Even if it is Kerry <gag>

    by ultrageek on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 09:18:38 PM PST

  •  This is a great idea ... (none)
    but it may be hard to sell. Or to put it differently, it may be too hard to reframe the debate. The fact is that if someone had gotten out front with this, it could have been sold as being fairer to all and showing respect to organized religion, making only the religious cleric capable of marrying people. Of course marriage is a religious sacrament and the government has never had any business marrying people. I like the idea, but I hope someone can come up with a good reframing strategy.
  •  No (none)
    Marriage is a religious institution, and it's also a state institution, and a cultural institution, and a social institution.

    We're a multicultural, broadly diverse society with many religious traditions. The proper role for civil marriage is to be as fair and equal as possible.

    Religions can choose to not recognize marriages outside their confines, just as they do now.

    •  That sounds like an argument against Gay Marriage (none)
      "Marriage is a religious institution, and it's also a state institution, and a cultural institution, and a social institution."

      Exactly. Because of the intimate relationship of society, culture, government, and religion, this is NOT a black and white issue.

      "The system gives you just enough to make you think you see change. They will sing you right to sleep then they'll screw you just the same." Ani Difranco

      by Jonathan4Dean on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 11:55:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You have to separate the institutions in your mind (none)
        Changing civil marriage does not change the definition of religious marriage, or cultural marriage, or social marriage.

        Civil marriage comprises the legal benefits, and so must hold to legal principles, and not religious or cultural principles. The important legal principle relevant to this discussion is equality under the law.

        Religions are free to define marriage differently, and choose not to recognize civil marriages in their church proceedings. Some do, some don't. Similarly, the state should not be held captive to any religious belief about marriage.

  •  Agree (none)
    I support Civil Unions...but for all Americans.  Let the churches deal with "marriage".  But of course, this solution is less likely to happen than gay marriage.  People are just too scared of change.
  •  not "abolish" (none)
    Civil marriage is too deeply intertwined in the law; it can't just be abolished.  There are more than a thousand rights that married people have under the law and unmarried people don't; it would be a nightmare to detangle all of them.

    But what we can do is change the name.  Let the government have "civil unions" or whatever.  Let churches have "marriage".  Gays and straights get the same piece of paper, but the government doesn't get to decide whether they're "married".  If a church is willing to bless same-sex unions with the marriage sacrament, great.   If not, that's fine too:  It's not the government's business.

  •  My response (none)
    I understand the argument that the government should ONLY offer civil unions, to both hetero and homosexual couples.

    However, my question is this: why bother changing the entire system?

    If the federal and all state governments recognize Civil Unions for homosexual couples, and heterosexual couples have "marriage", then they are absolutely equal.

    I don't buy this stupid "second class citizen" argument. If it was so loathesome, homosexuals would NOT have fought for Civil Unions over the past 25 years.


    "The system gives you just enough to make you think you see change. They will sing you right to sleep then they'll screw you just the same." Ani Difranco

    by Jonathan4Dean on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 12:01:54 AM PST

    •  Would that it were true. (none)
      I think there is a problem with this idea, though I am otherwise sympathetic to it: So long as there are, from a legal perspective, two different kinds of unions, it will be possible to pass laws differentiating one from the other. That raises the possibility of constantly having to battle against bills attempting to privilege marriages over civil unions. On the other hand, once large numbers of couples, both homosexual and heterosexual, have the same kind of license, it would be nearly impossible to change that retroactively.

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