Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Should Civil Unions Supplant Civil Marraige?

The anti-democratic, anti-free speech opponents of Proposition 8 are so fanatic that they even attack their own supporters if they veer from the party line. So found out Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, an outspoken opponent of Proposition 8 and advocate of gay marriage, when he interrupted his sharp criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and the Mormons in order to express a modicum of sympathy for Margie Christofferson, the unfortunate manager of El Coyote Restaurant, which became a target of anti-Prop 8 animus when her $100 contribution to the Yes On 8 campaign was outed. As Lopez explains:

"To summarize the column, I said I was opposed to Prop. 8 and to the ugly campaigns against gay marriage by organized religion. I also wrote that Christoffersen is entitled to her views no matter how objectionable they are to me or anyone else, and that 89 El Coyote employees shouldn't be hurt by their manager's politics."

For this offense, Lopez is being called a homophobic bigot by the No On 8 crowd. One of his readers e-mailed, "Your article defending" the manager "is making the rounds on gay boards, which means that you're becoming notorious for your bigotry."

Such nice people, and so tolerant of diversity of opinion! I would be totally amused if these people didn't scare me so much.

In any event, Lopez also quotes an interesting point of view expressed by another of his readers:
T. Miyashiro-Sonoda wrote: "All couples (of any combination) should apply for a civil union license and have a civil ceremony. This would have all of the legal rights that are now granted by what we recognize as a 'marriage.' If the couple would like this union blessed or recognized by a church, synagogue, temple or any place of worship as a 'marriage,' another ceremony could be performed there. That way, any church, synagogue, temple or place of worship would have the right to recognize the union or not. What do you think?" I think I like it.

Well, I think I like it as well. It appeals to my libertarian instincts-why is the state in the business of defining marriage in the first place? It would allow each religious sect to define and sanction marriage as it sees fit. It would remove a potential political threat to freedom of religion, should the California Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court overturn Proposition 8.

Also, one of my major objections to "gay marriage" has been that the concept does violence to language and thought, to the meaning of marriage as the union of man and woman, which has prevailed in all human societies for thousands of years if not tens of thousands of years. Substituting civil union for marriage as a legal institution, but leaving it intact as a religious sacrament, disarms the violent attack on traditional concepts of marriage that is one of the objectives of radical gay marriage advocates.

On the other hand, as Proposition 8 advocates argued, the state has a legitimate interest in promoting a stable nuclear family structure as the best environment for rearing children. If marriage becomes a religious sacrament, rather than legally sanctioned institution, the state loses its ability to advance that interest.

What do you think?


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