Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A Last Thought on Gay Marriage

A number of readers have questioned The Yellow Line on why we have, in the past, stated we support civil unions for gay couples but think marriage is something only a church can confer. Reader RJ went so far as to say our position is just dodging the issue and that we are acting like slippery politicians.

Governments confer rights. One’s own family and community (most often through a religious institution and always through some form of ceremony) confer the spiritual unity that is marriage. But this natural separation has become inextricably linked to the point that, in reality, the government is more responsible for defining marriage than are our communities and churches. Marriage has, in many respects, evolved into a legal contract. Which is why it’s possible to get married in a drive-by wedding in Las Vegas. This is not a trend to celebrate.

Of course, many people still do see a difference between government’s role and religion’s/the community’s roll in marriage. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll last February returned what have become typical results:

"Which comes closest to your view? Same sex couples should be allowed to legally marry. OR, Same sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry. OR, There should be no legal recognition of a same sex couple's relationship."

.Legal Marriage: 25%
Civil Unions: 28%
No Legal Recognition: 42%
Unsure: 8%

And it’s not just the populace drawing a line between the government’s role (civil unions) and religion’s/the community’s role (marriage). In an October 2004 interview President Bush said:

I don’t think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that’s what a state chooses to do so…I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights.

Some have said all of this is just a matter of semantics. But definitions ARE important. Words and concepts have meanings for very important reasons and we should not desire to change those meanings too quickly. Marriage is defined as the union between a man and a woman. If we are to change that definition, shouldn’t there at first be a consensus in our communities?

For this reason, civil unions are the better option. They solve the underlying problem of conferring legal rights while allowing individual communities and religious institutions to decide for themselves whether or not they want to redefine marriage to include homosexual unions.

Here at The Yellow Line, we would welcome the marriage of homosexuals into our community and churches and hope that more people can open their hearts and do the same. But we understand the deep reservations many have on this issue. Because of this, civil unions are the most appropriate course of action for the government.


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