One of my (unspoken) resolutions for 2006 was (or is) to better abide by blogging protocol. This means I must not only follow the rule that, if you fool around with one contributor, you must fool around with all other contributors and/or the blog owner (LOL), but I must also spend more time on the main than I do in the comments.
To that end, I am bringing forward an argument posited by one of my favorite commentors, Pat, in regard to my recent post concerning gay marriage. Pat's first comment concerns my position that part of the debate over gay marriage should include an analysis of the legal rights and benefits conferred therein and whether they apply to all couples, especially in the absence of children:
Marriage may have been configured for heterosexual couples who are going to have children, but that's not entirely the case now, as we know. Some couples get married with no intention of having children, including elderly couples. And we know there are plenty of gay couples who intend on having children.
Another way of looking at this is the following...Suppose it was mandated by the courts or whomever, that gay and straight couples must have the same exact marriage rights. Period.
Now there are three choices.
1. Eliminate all civil marriage (and all the legal rights thereof). 2. Eliminate some of the rights of marriage (such as giving only tax breaks to those that have children).
3. Keep the same marriage rights as they are.
I'm pretty sure most Americans would vote for number three.
So although most Americans are reluctant for gay couples to have equality, I think they are more reluctant to have their own rights diminshed.
The problem is that the situation of the courts mandating the same exact rights has already come up; most Americans wrote in option 4, "tell the courts to go do things to themselves" -- to the extent of not only banning marriage, but banning other forms of extension of legal rights and benefits to gay couples, even to the point of jeopardizing those benefits already offered by government and private companies.
Pat's point is not that gays should go through the court system to get their way. However, what I think he brings up inadvertently is the sheer insanity of organizations like HRC, NGLTF, Lambda, and others who think that the way to gay rights is to insult voters and go running behind the judge's robes when people come after them with torches and pitchforks. Unlike their mothers, though, voters can order the judge to get out of the way and hand over the little hellions.
Now, to Pat's second point:
I just see your suggestion as just a way of lowering the bar for equality for gay couples.
If gay equality requires having identical rights and benefits to heterosexual unions that produce children, yes. However, is that really the case?
For instance, one of the rights and benefits granted to heterosexual marriages that produce children is that no additional legal documentation or activity is required for both parents to have complete parental rights, or for the children to have complete inheritance rights. Obviously, then, in order for everyone to be equal, gay couples must have complete parental rights, and the children complete inheritance rights, without any additional legal documentation or activity.
While I learn new things about gays reproducing every day, something tells me that the vast majority of us will need to adopt, which under law as it is written requires additional legal documentation and activity. And, given the example I cited in which "gay activists" threw a hissy fit over the fact that birth certificates as written in Massachusetts reflected biological reality, they're not going to respond well.
The concern for "equality" is that couples in identical situations should receive similar benefits and protections, regardless of whether it's a same-sex or opposite-sex couple. The simple fact of the matter is that gay couples are NOT the same as heterosexual couples. Voters realize that. If we want them to listen, we need to do the same. It doesn't mean that we're LESS, just that we're DIFFERENT.