03 March 2004

More gay marriage

I can't believe I did not link to this article myself and waited for Julie to remind me of it. You know, seeing I posted about it earlier today. I read this issue of The Economist last Monday on the plane back from England. It was a good, refrshing, non-emotional look at why the American Constitution just about HAS to allow gay marriage. It picks apart some of the arguments opponents use.

Allowing homosexuals to marry will weaken the institution of marriage. The weakening of marriage has been heterosexuals' doing, not gays', for it is their infidelity, divorce rates and single-parent families that have wrought social damage. Let's give the gay people a try. They can certainly not do any worse.

It is wrong in the eyes of God. Fair enough but the American constitution is VERY strict in separating Church and State (eventhough those who INTERPRET the Constitution might not be!). So if marriage is about religeon, it is not a matter for the Constitution. That means Bush would be illegal to enforce a religeous belief through the Constitution.

Marriage is about raising children in a stable home. It might be. But then why not oppose marriage of those who are unable to concieve. Or those who know before they get married that they never want to have children. Or women who are past menopause?

Marriage has always been between a man and a woman, why should we change that after so many years? The article kindly points out that until 1960, it was illegal for a black person to marry a white one. Simply because it had always beenillegal. I doubt anybody these days would support the return of that ban, based on the fact that it was a tradition once.

America is brutally conservative. But strangely enough, there have been a fair few High Court Judges who have said they personally oppose gay marriage but based on the Constitution, they can not do anything but allow gay couples to get married in their state. And the rule in the USA is: A marriage from one state, is valid in any other state, even if that other state does not have gay marriage. (Hence 16 y/o can get married in Ohio and return to Chicago, where the age is 18, and Chicago will have to aknowledge the marriage). I think it is hopeful that these judges can set their personal opinions aside and read the Constitution for what it says: Equality for all.

However the article has one error in my opinion: it encourages homosexuals NOT to settle for a Registered Partnership that gives them the same right butnot the name Marriage. I believe that a Registered Partnership is a vital step inbetween. It will give gays the rights they deserve without bothering a large part of the straight community. After a few years, more people will see that society has not collapsed from giving gays the same rights as straight people. In The Netherlands, this strategy worked. Because after a few years, the debate had calmed down (if there really ever was one). And the Government realised it was stupid and a lot of extra paperwork to have two separate kinds of marriage that were exactly the same, just not in name. So wihtout much fuss, apart from the Christian-Facists, they opened marriage to gay people. And there was a lot less protest then there was when the Registered Partnership was introduced.

I can understand that for a society, the step from virtually no rights for gay people, to full marriage is too big. No matter how stupid I think society is for having a problem with this, I think it is smarter to move forward in little steps, than pushing your issue too hard.

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