Gay Marriage

- Chelle

Marriage, specifically, the definition of marriage, was a major focus of conservatives during our recent presidential elections and the subject of referendums on 11 state ballots. I initially thought our government had gotten involved with the issue because of the monetary implications of allowing gay couples to wed. Recognizing same-sex unions means these couples would receive the same legal rights to health insurance, social security benefits and welfare benefits equating to greater costs incurred by corporations and our government. To get more people on the support bandwagon, I believe the government was cleverly disguising this as a moral issue to garner more support from the religious right.

Much to my surprise, President Bush announced that although he disagrees with same-sex marriage, he supports civil unions:

"I view the definition of marriage difference from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between, a union between a man and a woman," Bush said. "Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass ... laws that enable people to you know, be able to have rights, like others." - W

With this apparent flip-flop of support for legally recognizing same-sex unions, it is a wonder why so much time and energy is being devoted to adding amendments to state laws and our US constitution banning same-sex marriages. This is not a political issue, it is a linguistic issue. If Bush himself believes that same-sex couples deserve the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, then this push is simply around a definition of a word. I donít believe it is in the best interest of our society to have our government start taking on the responsibilities of maintaining dictionaries. Donít we have Websterís for that?

marriage n.
1. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
2. The state of being married; wedlock.
3. A common-law marriage.
4. A union between two persons having the customary but usually not the legal force of marriage: a same-sex marriage.

civil union n. : a voluntary union for life (or until divorce) of adult parties of the same sex; "parties to a civil union have all the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under Vermont law as spouses in a marriage"

Websterís has spoken. So long as Bush agrees that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as straight couples, then Websterís can update their definitions to say the same-sex marriage has the same legal force as civil unions and the definitions essentially become the same. What difference does it make what we call it so long as everyone has the same legal rights? Whether we are bound by a Pastor in a Church, a Rabbi in a synagogue, a judge in a courthouse or Elvis in Vegas, our governmentís responsibility is to honor the legality of the union, it is up to Websterís to describe words, and it is up to each couple to define their own marriage to ensure its success.

- 11/04/2004


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