Marriage is Not Just a Label

Many argue that California should be able to offer marriage to straight couples and limit gay couples to civil unions. After all, “it’s only a label.” Or maybe, it’s a label that California shouldn’t be able to redefine.

I disagree.

Imagine with me the following two scenarios:

  • California allows left-handed people to swim and wade in the water, lefties can swim wearing robes, and lefties can dunk each other under the water while wearing robes and while saying whatever they want, but California has a law that prohibited lefties from getting “baptized.”
  • Or maybe, California allows lefties to drink wine from little plastic cups and eat small, unleavened pieces of bread while reading from any book and saying whatever they want, but California prohibits lefties from participating in “holy communion.”

What would be the harm? After all, “baptism” and “communion” are just labels. Shouldn’t lefties just be happy they can participate fully in the same behavior as right-handed people and leave it at that?

I expect you’d agree that both of these scenarios describe what would be unlawful discrimination, that there would be no good policy reason for California to allow the behavior but prohibit the label. You might even wonder why the state was intruding into religious matters. And you would understand why lefties would fight for the right to have their behaviors labeled “baptism” and “communion.”

I don’t think these scenarios are that different from the situation in California regarding gay marriage. California allows gays to live together, express their love physically without fear of criminal prosecution, adopt and use assistive reproductive procedures, and form long-term relationships that the state will recognize and assist in their dissolution. Gays just can’t get “married.”

In other words, gays can act married; they just can’t call it marriage.

I think California has a couple of options:

  • Offer marriage to adult couples in a non-discriminatory manner, or
  • Offer marriage to no adult couples because it’s a religious matter, but instead, offer only civil unions to all adult couples in a non-discriminatory manner. Those couples that wanted to be married could find a church to perform a wedding ceremony. I have no doubt that some churches would offer to marry gay couples, as should be the churches’ right.

What do you think?

9 responses to “Marriage is Not Just a Label”

  1. chppio Avatar

    Reasonable, thoughtful, completely logical. But who said any of those things were part of this issue? ;-)

  2. Brent Logan Avatar

    Our personal reactions can be anything we want them to be, but I’d like the state’s response to be more reasoned and principled. And yeah, I saw the wink. :-)

  3. Brent Logan Avatar

    “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” —Mahatma Gandhi

  4. chppio Avatar

    My experience on this earth over the past 67 years has demonstrated time and time again that “reasoned and principled” are NOT something to be expected or anticipated from government. ANY government under the control of human beings, that is. It’s only a question of how unreasonable and unprincipled that government will be.

  5. chppio Avatar

    I’m tryin’! :-D

  6. David Werner Avatar

    I understand that Justice Chen commented once that perhaps California ought to get out of the marriage business. And yes, marriage (holy matrimony) is a religious institution that governemnt has co-opted. I agree wholeheartedly with option ii. I shared the same concept with a fellow that I later learned in our conversation had two moms, and he also agreed that option ii makes sense.

  7. Jeannie Wagner Avatar
    Jeannie Wagner

    First, I will always be friends with and love any gay friends or acquaintances that I ever have, just like anyone else.

    I have never had a problem with homosexuals and what they do in their bedrooms. That is their business. I personally believe that the act of homosexuality is un-natural and perverse. You could never convince me that it is perfectly normal for a man to put his p—– in another man’s a–. Or for women to use plastic substitutes of p—— when they have sex. I really believe that most people don’t even think about the reality of what homosexual relations are.

    It is so frustrating to be considered “closed-minded” because I find homosexuality un-natural.

    The biggest concern that I have, now that homosexuality is being so widely accepted, is that they will be teaching the homosexual lifestyle as a perfectly normal, healthy choice to our children in our schools to kids as young as 5!! This is completely unacceptable.

    I am especially concerned for all those kids who will be raised without a father or a mother. Most people don’t even know that 98% of imprisoned criminals have either negligent or absent fathers. Obviously, both parents, of both genders, are vital to the raising of our children.

    Again, I never, ever would have ill feeling towards a gay person. I just do not agree with their lifestyle choice, and would appreciate it if they would not try to impress their lifestyle on my children.

  8. Brent Logan Avatar

    I think option ii is interesting in that the debate would probably shift from the civil to religious arena. It certainly would not prevent gay marriage.

  9. Brent Logan Avatar

    I wonder how much gays being able to marry would effect the issues you raise. I’m not convinced there would be much. Thanks for dropping by! :-)