Sunday, June 26, 2011

Talking about Same Sex Marriage

On Friday, the New York state Assembly passed a law legalizing same sex marriage. There are five other states that already have given legal status to same sex marriage (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine.)
The same sex marriage debate has been something from which I’ve steered clear. Emotions run too high on both sides, and I don’t like to wade into such divisive issues especially when I am not decided on it. Since my current views don’t fall into lockstep with either camp I typically make neither supporters nor opponents of same sex marriage happy.
I think my current position is somewhat unique. I don’t oppose same sex marriages, I just wish they had picked a different name for them.
If two people, even two people of the same gender, decide they want to enter into a lifelong commitment to each other, I don’t think the state (government) should tell them they can’t. There are real circumstances (filing income taxes jointly, or visiting each other in the hospital, or inheriting one another's property) where the rules change for your spouse. Lifelong committed same sex couples should be equivalent to heterosexual couples in those circumstances.
And can we please stop with the ‘oh the children’ rhetoric? Now I do believe that children benefit from having both a female and male in their life. There are things that men teach best to other men, and woman teach best to other women. But children of same sex couples would be in the same situation as any child of a single parent. There are lots of them, some of them even turn out okay.
Am I worried the children will think that homosexuality is ‘ok’? I live in the deep south. There have been parents teaching their kids wrongs things (about racial and gender equality) for generations. Yes somehow racial and gender equality is much better now than even when I was a kid. Kids grow up. They aren’t little automatons. They learn, adapt, change.
I don’t see how homosexual marriage will have any impact on heterosexual marriage. Until I read the article, I didn’t even know five other states had already legalized same sex marriage. That’s how little it actually impacts me. Bottom line, what people do in their private lives is up to them.
I’m a Dad, and this will cause me to have to talk to my daughter and son about concepts and topics I’d really rather not talk to them about yet. But at some point, they will learn about alternative lifestyles. Better for them to learn about them from their Mom and I than anyone else. Hopefully, I can instill in them how to stand up for their own convictions while giving grace and acceptance to those who disagree.
So if I’m okay with same sex marriage, why do I add the caveat that I wish they used a different word for them. As a writer, words are important to me. Words need to have meaning, and that means should stay as consistent as the language will allow. What I’ve never understood is why supporters of same sex marriage wanted the word ‘Marriage’. I would prefer a word that would provide all the rights and responsibilities of married couples but indicated the different constitution of the couple. I’d prefer the word ‘marriage’ continue to mean one man, one woman, and some other word to describe a same sex couple. Maybe one day someone will explain it to me and I’ll drop even my caveat.
But even with that, I would still support same sex marriage, though it will truly be a very cold day in a very hot place before my home state sees it.
My only concern at this point is if people who conscientiously disagree with same sex marriage, like Pastors, will be afforded the same protections and not have their freedom to speech attacked as a hate crime.


Chuck said...

Asking marriage to be called something different if the two people involved are a same sex couple revisits a historically bad law from the United States' past. It was called "Seperate but Equal". This made seperate places for people of color i.e. bathrooms, lunch counters, clubs, and so on. Calling them "Colored Bathrooms" didn't make them not bathrooms, it just served to divide us. And calling marriage something else wouldn't make it not marriage, it would just draw that line seperating us from them. If you call marriage by a different name, but only for same sex couples, all you are doing is drawing a line to divide them from us. And I can't see that as anything but just plain wrong.

Ted said...

Separate but Equal was certainly a dark time in our history. I am too young to have experienced it personally, but it isn't a time I want to see repeated. However, I wonder if that isn't pushing the analogy a bit too far. For all its talk, Separate but Equal was about taking away the rights of people.

Perhaps using a different word for Same Sex Marriages would have the same effect, but I'm not sure it would. Our society is far ahead of where it was during Separate but Equal, New York's passage proves that.

Thanks for your comment.

EMT Wench said...


You are an excellent writer. And I find that once again, I agree wholeheartedly with what you think.

I hate to disappoint you in one area: you are not as unique as you think in your wish that the word "marriage" be changed to some other word. I talked to many people about this - at my old job, on the squad, friends - almost to a person, they said the same thing as you.

I am not a published writer and just prefer to happily "spew" my opinions out on line. But I do agree that words are very, very important and key to any well-made conversation, writing, posting, etc.

In my case, I don't know if I am hung up about the specific use of "marriage", however, but only because a complete lack of religious upbringing hasn't made me associate the word with "a union between a man and a woman". I just think of a marriage as a union between two consenting people. (And even then, I've been to a wedding that was an arranged marriage - would that, then, qualify as "consenting"? Hard to know... the married adults consented; but what about the couple that married that day?)

But I digress, like usual...


P.S. - How can I sign up to receive your posts via e-mail?

Ted said...

That doesn't disappointment me at all. It just shows what I've heard and experienced in my circle.

To answer your question, there is a button on the right hand side of the page that says "Posts" right under the Subscribe To heading. That should allow you to subscribe to the new blog posts in a reader. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter at @TedtheThird. I always tweet when I have a new post.