Observations on the world today.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Non-Distinction 

Eschaton made a very good point today on the difference between marriage and civil union.

This distinction was always a sham, because it's a distinction without a difference. Unless the candidates can articulate what the difference is, it's a losing strategy. Until they can articulate the difference, the press will keep asking.

This is why I support a different strategy. What we should all be saying is this: Marriage needs a new legal definition. And since marriage started as a religious institution, that is what it should remain. However, each church should decide for itself what it will condone as a marriage, and each state should decide for itself what it will legally recognize as a union. So if Unitarians in Vermont want to marry gay couples, that is their business, and the state can recognize it. Also, if Unitarians in Ohio wish to marry gays, that too is their business, and the state is free to not recognize it.

The corollary to this is that civil weddings can no longer be called marriages. They are legal unions. Period.

The reason that state's should be given the prerogative to decide whether or not they will recognize gay unions is the same as the reason that states get to decide if their electoral votes will be all-or-nothing or parsed out by districts; and the same reason that states set their own speed limits and drinking ages. States need some autonomy in order to keep the federal government from usurping all individualism from our communities.
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