The news these past few days on the gay marriage front has been, as usual, mixed and muddled. In New York, the state senate rejected a proposal to legalize marriage between two people regardless of sex by a vote of 38 to 24. In Washington, DC, the city council voted initial support to legalize same sex marriage by a vote of 11 to 2. Five states have legalized gay marriage through their legislatures, while states that have put the question to a popular vote as a constitutional amendment have universally seen it defeated.
Supporters of legalization point to the discrimination that denies gays in committed relationships the rights granted to heterosexual couples. Opponents insist that marriage is a status defined as the union of one man and one woman. Supporters counter that a loving relationship is a loving relationship regardless of the sex of the people involved. Opponents argue that legalization would start the country down a slippery slope that would eventually lead to polygamy and who knows what other abomination.
There seems to be a general agreement, however, that same sex couples should have the same general rights and privileges accorded by the government, state as well as federal, to married heterosexuals. This suggests a simple solution. The real problem is not the union of members of the same sex. That is happening, and no one really seems to suggest seriously that it would be possible, in this day and age, to eliminate it, even if there were a majority in support.
The real problem would seem to be marriage.
Let me suggest a modest solution. The one thing needful is not to legalize same sex marriage; the one thing needful is to get rid of marriage. We don't need a defense of marriage. We need an attack on marriage. In an age with a divorce rate between 40 and 50 percent, marriage doesn't seem to be an institution that promises the kind of stability that is necessary to a modern society. Marriage is, after all is said and done, only a word.
There is no marriage in Germany; there is die Ehe. There is no marriage In Portugal; there is casamento. Lord knows what it is in Russia or China, Israel, Egypt or Japan. Even in Spain, Italy and France, although you have something close, you don't have marriage. Why then, must, we in the United States be saddled with it?
Here then is my proposal: let us pass a constitutional amendment outlawing marriage between any of the sexes — same or not so same. Let us create a new kind of union in its stead, a more perfect union, a union open to members of all sexes. Let us endow this union with all the benefits and privileges currently enjoyed by those locked in the wed of marriage. Let us recognize that in the vagaries of human existence, there is little if anything that is lasting and let us make provision for a possible disunion. In short let us create something with all the advantages and disadvantages of what we now call marriage.
But, let's call it something else. Let's call it — well, what's the difference what we call it, just so long as we don't call it marriage.