Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Civil Unions For Heterosexuals

I generally stay away from politics here because I think they are much too prevalent and polarizing in the modern world. Too often people feel that the other side is all stupid or evil, and everyone gets their news and commentary from sources that treat the other side unfairly, e.g. repeating every slip of the tongue to put the other side in the worst light.

Gay marriage is relevant here, though. My take is that governments should do only civil unions for everybody, gay or straight, exactly the same. Government has an interest in matters like the proper disposition of property when a member of a couple dies without a will, that legitimizes them defining civil unions.

They have no business defining marriage at all. For religious people, marriage is a religious sacrament, and in the USA at least the First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;". If a Unitarian church is prevented from marrying a gay couple, (or a Baptist church were forced to), their free exercise is abridged. Marriage should be up to whoever the couple wants to solemnize their marriage in the eyes of their community, including if that's nobody but only each other.

I have no idea what the civil union rules should be for polygamy (how inheritance should go etc.), but I'm sure it'll be much easier to settle them logically if we can agree that their LDS church or Muslim mosque or whatever organization has ALREADY married them according to their own practices.


  1. Pragmatically speaking I absolutely agree with you.

    I think, though, that it would actually represent a historical novelty; marriage has taken many forms over the course of human history and across cultures, but civil governments have always had an interest in unions because the reasons you stated have always existed in one form or another, and usually whatever the dominant religion was has taken an equal interest because who is producing children and forming family units is always of interest to them for their own reasons.

    What we've done that's unusual is come up with the idea that we should separate the two social authorities so as to allow maximum freedom of conscience...

  2. You're right that it is a historical novelty. Even the thoroughness of the separation of religious and political authorities in the USA is pretty unusual and novel. A lot of European nations still have a state church, though in as vestigial and symbolic a role as England's royalty.

    The separation of civil union and marriage is just fulfilling that separation in an area where it has previously either been unnoticed due to lack of conflict (EVERYBODY thinks marriage is one man and one woman) or glossed over due to the depth of the predjudice against the minority position (Mormon polygamy).

  3. I fully and absolutely agree with you, Mousie. I don't think that Big Brother has any place in dictating how we pair up.