Monday, December 18, 2006

Getting It. Not Getting It.

More on a bill to extend domestic partnership rights to heterosexual couples from the Bee (via The Roundup). I can't decide if I get the theories underlying the proposal or not. More likely, I get it, I just respectfully disagree with it. Maybe it's just my Claremont roots that cause this sort of statement to bother me:

"If it came down to health insurance or no health insurance, we would probably go and get married," Cordeiro said. "But that's not a reason to get married, in my opinion. Marriage is a very personal experience. I just don't think the state should do things that influence people's decision to get married or not."
Sadly, the point of establishing the state (a state) to begin with is, at least in part, classically speaking, to vest in a body the ability to set standards by which we define and govern civilized society.

Obviously, I'm not implying that cohabitating couples are uncivilized. I'm not even necessarily arguing against Migden's bill from a moral standpoint. I have a feeling I'd rather not take the same positions as some of the organizations on record opposing the proposal. I also think that limiting talking points on marriage to its effect on child-rearing is narrow-minded. Marriage, socially, religiously, and even biologically, is about reproduction, but it's also about a host of other factors - many of which have benefits to the larger community.

There are so many conflicting quotations in news coverage of this issue. The one above is troubling. Also irksome, the apt yet quickly tiring rebuttal that divorce devalues marriage more than marriage equality. This is true. But when non-married cohabitants remark that divorce is to blame, I can't help but wonder, well, why aren't you married? Worried about divorce? Like it's something that happens to you, such as a fender-bender or a sudden illness?

If you want the benefits and protections of marriage, why not get married? The word, the very notion and weight attached to it is SO SCARY you just can't do it? You don't want a wedding cake but you do want to eat it too?

And at the end of the day, I still say this cheapens the goal of marriage equality - that is to say, the effort to recognize as legitimate homosexual love - to institutionalize it in marriage. If "cheapen" is too strong a word for you, try "makes more difficult." I don't believe it adds anything to the notion of equality and could do more harm than good on countless fronts.

By the way - I think this bill also creates a foolish chance to re-argue the merits of domestic partnership law as it current exists - the only almost-fair alternative available to same-sex couples. As it is, comments out there in the 'sphere and even attending the article linked above, make arguments for this bill based on support for domestic partnership rights for homosexuals. But that's not what the bill is about, is it? Of course not. Again, if this really were a savvy way to alter the nomenclature of civil unions, then perhaps I'd be more supportive. But I think it's a messy way of doing business.

Get married or deal with the potential drawbacks of refraining from the legal contract. Because you can, dammit.

Second thought: is this an ultra-savvy way to bring get the marriage equality issue into the courts again? Think of it this way: you create something that walks, talks, smells, and quacks like marriage. Hetero couples can enter into either and reap the same benefits. So why can same-sex couples have access only to the separately named, equal institution? A slight spin on the possible motive questioned above.

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