Monday, December 04, 2006

Strange Bedfellows, Non Bedfellows

One State Senator may soon introduce a bill to grant domestic partnership rights to heterosexual couples whose therapists have yet to solve their commitment issues.

Naturally, the Campaign for Children and Families guy is already apoplectic over the notion.

I'm not saying the state should invalidate anyone's notion of a family unit. But at a certain point, when the real deal is available, why create a watered down version? Especially when so many people who want the real deal can't have it?


neotokyotimes said...

Because some people want it!

We take seriously the notion that some people want to be "married," even though an alternative system of rights and responsibilities exists for them, that claims to provide them the same legal and economic rights. So we should also take seriously the notion that some people want the same privileges and responsibilities, but without the social connotations of the word "marriage".

Also, there's a non-marriage civil commitment system in France that's more popular among heterosexuals than homosexuals.

Anonymous said...

Well, some people may have to be disappointed.

Whether we like to admit it or not, our laws are a direct reflection of our values. Strong familial units are important. I happen to believe those units needn't be defined solely on the basis of sexual orientation.

The logical solution is to remove the term "marriage" from state sanctioned pairings all together, leave everyone the option of forming civil unions, and let churches define and sanctify marriages.

This bill doesn't do that though. It creates a secondary level of bonding, domestic partnership, where a worthy and established alternative exists already: marriage.

If they don't want the "social connotations" of the word "marriage," but want all the legal benefits it confers, well, so sorry, but get hitched or get over it.

Marriage is merely a piece of paper representing a legal contract unless you believe it to be more than that. I believe it to be more than that, but it doesn't harm my marriage if some other couple can make peace with the definition and enter into the same contract, without wanting that messy vow stuff.

Whether "we take seriously" the notion Migden forwards here remains to be seen. I think she's confusing the greater cause: equal access to legal protections for all pair bondings (oh, and those are bondings based on love, which our entire legal system is still set up to assume is part of marriage. Want a good example, check out the visa requirements for fiances. You don't have to prove friendship or acquaintance, you have to show something that seems marriage worthy).

Domestic partnership does NOT confer all the same benefits as marriage. If it DOES provide the same benefits when applied to hetero couples then why have it? Either because you're realllly sneaky and hoping that the incongruity will help expand marriage laws, or you're such a weenie you think slapping a different label on something makes it different.

This rose by another name really does smell like poo poo poo.

neotokyotimes said...

I think the statute in CA itself says that domestic partnerships provide the same benefits as marriage (at least the benefits that the state is capable of guaranteeing).

That aside, your notion that marriage be made available only by churches strips the institution of marriage from anyone not affiliated with a church. Why can't atheists and others be married? If pair-bonding is so important, and I believe that it is, then marriage should be an institution the state chooses to establish and maintain -- for everyone.

I think my own views that everyone should be allowed to marry are much more defensible than the notion that everyone should be allowed to have access to an institution with marriage-like benefits but without the social connotations.

There's a "bitter with the sweet" argument with respect to marriage rights. The state can require that those who get the benefits of "marriage," live under the social and legal expectations and responsibilities that flow from that designation. In short, I'd much rather see marriage as a universal institution, than domestic partnerships as a universal institution.

jvgordon said...

Without getting involved in the larger discussion, I'll just note that it is my understanding that under CA law, there are differences between domestic partnerships and marriage. Domestic partnerships cover many of the important benefits, but not all of them. And of course, the federal government does not provide federal legal benefits to domestic partners, such as joint tax filing, for domestic partners.

Anonymous said...

Did you actually *read* what I wrote?

I think marriage should be available to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. If states are going to continue to discriminate based on orientation, and my own party leaders are going to continue to champion pansy-ass notions of "civil unions" being okay while "marriages" should remain man-woman, then I'd rather take the state out of the equation, have all state-sanctioned unions be legally named "civil unions" and let the title "marriage" come from churches or any other spiritual/community-based whatever that you please.

We agree that marriage for all is better than marriage for some. I'm just not willing to re-name things for the benefit of those who feel threatened by someone else's business.

But because I value the institution, I'm also not willing to support creating some kind of watered down, pseudo-medium for people who just don't like the word marriage - especially when so many want access to marriage who can't have it.

As you comment went on, you seemed to make a 180 change from the beginning to the end. But I'm glad you've come around to my thinking.

neotokyotimes said...

I don't think either of us were talking about our respective normative first preferences to begin with. When you wrote "The logical solution is to remove the term "marriage" from state sanctioned pairings all together," you didn't mean that that was what society should do, in a best of all worlds sense, but instead what it must do if the demands to be non-discriminatory must be squared with the seeming fact that the polity won't accept marriage equality.

I was making the same argument, but for equality of domestic partnerships. If we're going to have them, I think we have to have them for everyone. But I don't think we should have domestic partnerships at all, in a best of all worlds sense. I'd much rather see marriage equality.