QUILTS FOR KATRINA
I HAVE THE ANSWER
12 September 2005
When I drove down to my mother's the other night to take her to dinner, I was listening to talk radio and the topic was Schwarzenegger's expected veto of the marriage equality bill and how people felt about it.
The talk show host, Pete Wilson, talked about something I had not realized. Several years ago, this state passed Prop 22, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The problem, today, with that proposition is that built into it is the express stipulation that the state legislature was not permitted to change the results of the proposition.
According to Wilson, what this means is that even if Schwarzenneger had signed the bill we were so elated was passed in the Assembly, it would not have stood up, legally.
Needless to say, a lively discussion ensued and it was frustrating for me to have no way to participate (I'm not a call-in type of person, but I am an e-mail-in kind of person), so I had to be resigned to just listening.
But as I listened, it suddenly became crystal clear. I had the perfect solution. The idea came out of remembering the story of the wedding of our friends Dave and Elisabeth in Germany, where one day they went to the courthouse to go through a civil ceremony and the next day to the church for the big wedding.
So, the way to solve this problem is to change the definition of the word "marriage." (for G&S afficionado: I feel like an old equity draftsman!) The religious folks say that "marriage" is between a man and a woman, and is ordained by God and that to give "marriage" to same sex couples would somehow destroy the sanctity of marriage. I obviously don't believe that, but for the purpose of this discussion, let's assume that they might be right.
OK. So "marriage" would then mean "the blessing of a church on the union of two people who have entered into a lifelong commited relationship." It would then be up to each individual church to decide whether those unions could include same gender couples.
The difference is that "marriage" implies NO civil rights or benefits whatsoever. It is simply the religious blessing of a union.
Any couple, gay or straight, who wants their union to include the rights and privileges that straight married couples now enjoy, must go through a second, civil ceremony. You can call it a domestic partnership, or any other term you choose--but this domestic partnership is for everyone, gay or straight.
"Marriage" may be only for straight couples (but if, say, the Methodists, want to "marry" gay couples, that is their decision, based on the teachings of their own faith). BUT, once those couples are married, they are just that: married. They have no tax benefits, hospital visitation rights, inheritance benefits, etc.
To get all those rights and benefits, whether you are gay or straight, you must register in a civil ceremony in order to get them. That makes it truly equal for all. EVERY partnership becomes a domestic partnership, so that straight athiest couples, or non-religious people, aren't "married" either--they are in a legal domestic partnership.
(By that definition, Ned and Marta are "married" while Tom and Laurel are in a legal domestic partnership.)
And there you are. Out of your difficulties at once. "Marriage" becomes the choice of individual religious institutions on a one by one basis. "Domestic Partnership" becomes something that EVERYONE must have, whether gay or straight, in order to get civil rights and privileges.
It seems so simple.
And it is the total separation of church and state, which our country was founded on in the first place.
Now...do you think anybody will listen to me?
As I listened to the Pete Wilson show, and heard people talking about the various stages in the fight for equality, the more I realized how terrible it is to be in a committed gay relationship. One day you can't be married, the next day you can, then your marriage is invalidated, then the legislature says you can be married and the governor says you can't, and even if the governor says you can, somebody is waiting to file a lawsuit that will take your marriage away from you again, while off in Washington, DC the president wants to make it federal law that nobody who is gay can be married.
I imagine a little girl looking at her friend playing with a beautiful doll. She sees a doll like it in the window and she desperately wants it. But she's told she can't have it. Then someone decides that's not fair and buys the doll for her. She's so thrilled. But along comes someone else and snatches the doll away from her and tells he that she doesn't deserve it, so it goes back in the window again. Then someone else comes along and says that yes, she does deserve the doll and they are going to talk with the clerk in the store about it. The clerk finally agrees that yes, the little girl deserves the doll, but as he starts to give it to her, the store owner comes and says that no, she doesn't deserve it. The more this see saw goes back and forth, the more the little girl realizes how unfair it is that her friend gets to have the doll, and that nobody will let her have it either and she becomes fixated on the unfairness of life that puts that doll within her sight, but beyond her reach.
Let's change the law, and make everything equal for everyone, even if it means rewriting the dictionary definitions, and leave the "sanctity" of marriage decisions up to the religious groups.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
My idea for a sign was apparently a big hit