Gay Marriage: It’s Not a Gay Issue; It’s a Marriage Issue
The “Gay Marriage” issue has been all over the news for the past few weeks. Vice-President Joe Biden put his stamp of approval on it a few days ago. And, just yesterday, President Obama reversed his previous public position and added his check mark to the approval column. After all, it’s an election year. Not smart to be politically incorrect on such an emotional issue.
While all this high-fiving is going on in Washington, North Carolina voters approved Amendment 1 that legally defines marriage, in North Carolina, as being between one man and one woman.
With This Kind of Reporting, No Wonder We’re Confused
In an effort to get to the truth, I turned to that bastion of unbiased, middle-of-the-road, “we decide; then report,” Pulitzer Prize Winning, The Huffington Post for some clarification on the North Carolina story. Here are two quotes, both contained in the very same HP article.
Quote 1: “On Tuesday, North Carolinians voted in favor of an amendment that bans same-sex marriage and civil unions.” (For the “gay” community).
Quote 2: “North Carolinians voted in large numbers in favor of Amendment 1, which formally defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.” (For the “straight” community).
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the The Huffington Post found two ways of saying exactly the same thing, to appease two different groups.
What Does Everyone Seem To Be Missing?
Another quote from the same HP article caught my eye and got me to thinking about the real issue everyone is missing. Here’s that quote: “Yet some high-profile activists chose to sit out the fight, underscoring deep divisions in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights movement.”
Take a closer look at some of the words in that statement. “Lesbian,” “Gay,” “Bisexual,” and “Transgender.” What do all those words have in common? They are all clear, “accepted definitions,” that describe the members of each respective group. Though the groups are somewhat similar, they are also individually different, and there is the point that groups on both sides of this issue are missing.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. I am going to use religion for demonstration only. Not making any kind of religious argument for or against, OK? I meet you for the first time and ask, “Are you religious?” You might reply, “No, I’m an Atheist.” Or, you might reply, “I’m an Agnostic.” Or you might reply, “Why yes I am.”
Whatever the answer I have a clear understanding with which to communicate further because of “accepted definitions” we ALL use. That descriptive definition has eliminated any misunderstanding in our conversation. If you asked me if I was a homosexual I would say, “No, I’m a heterosexual.” We both have a clear understanding because of a commonly accepted definition for both sides. “Are you gay?” "No, I’m straight.” The gay community has even been kind enough to create an accepted definition that defines me. "Straight."
But, if I ask, “Are you married?” What should I ask next? “How are you married?” or “What kind of marriage do you have?” or “Are you married like I’m married?” The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community need their own “accepted definition” of their respective relationships. One they can get behind, be proud of, and promote to the world. So when the question, “Are you married?” is asked, the proud response would be, “I’m (blank).” What people are resistant to, is asking them to call “trees” mountains, just because it makes you feel better or included.
Rather than be included in a diluted definition of the word marriage, why not work for what you really want — separation but equality with a descriptive legally accepted definition that is yours alone. That’s a battle I believe the gay community can win. The resistance is against the use of the word “marriage” not the sexual orientation of the people wanting to use it. The opposition would have a much harder time opposing a word that clearly says gay marriage but excludes the word marriage.
The Whole Legal Battle
I have no clue what relationship challenges gay couples face in their daily lives. And there is no question they face high levels of discrimination. But, I believe many states that have approved gay marriage too quickly are going to regret it down the road.
Divorce, child custody, finances, medical decisions and property dissolution are going to have some legal nuances that don’t exist in the traditional marriage realm. This is the very reason the legal community created civil unions to cover areas outside the common legal definitions that pertain to traditional marriage and other kinds of equity relationships. “Traditional Marriage” is another commonly accepted definition we all use and understand. And what does this definition say? It says, not gay marriage. Again, an “accepted definition” has to be created to help clear up confusion.
Some Final Thoughts
The other problem that an accepted legal definition of (blank) would solve is help with the recognition of (blank) from state to state. Leaving this decision to the states alone, as the president would like, hardly seems fair either. I would certainly vote for an amendment for (blank), way before I would ever vote to accept a re-write of the traditional definition of marriage.
I don’t have a religious opposition to gay marriage, or a moral opposition — I have a definition opposition. Words have power to accomplish what we all want in life. That’s why the word marriage is so vigorously defended. It defines our very being. Wouldn’t you rather have a word that truly defines you — rather than one that just includes you?
Question: If there were another word for “gay marriage,” that excluded the word “marriage,” would it change your current position on legalization?