This is an excellent article.
I really do understand the complicated religious questions that same-sex marriage brings up, but make no mistake: A vote for so-called “traditional marriage” is a vote against the dignity of gay and lesbian people. It is deeply hurtful and deeply unfair. And unfortunately, there’s just no getting around that.
As Michaelson points out, this “separate but equal” business was always been a stumbling block for me. As a gay man, as someone who was brought up in the Church, as a somewhat amateur Anglican theologian (back then; now lapsed), using the word marriage always tripped me up.
My modest proposal, back when this was gaining traction in the 90s, was a civil union for all. Reserve marriage for the Church, but make the state mandate a civil contract for all partnerships, gay or otherwise.
This never got any traction, but I think we could have moved forward faster — evolved faster, to use the President’s term — if we could have come to a consensus on civil unions for all 20 years ago. That way, no one could be denied the rights we are still fighting for — all 1,100 of them — and no member of the clergy could stand in for the government. You could get married, if you chose to do so, in the church or synagogue or temple or mud hut or funeral parlor of your choice.
You could swing incense and have communion; you could handle snakes or jump a broom, but legally it would mean bupkiss. In order for your partnership to be legal — in order for you to check that box on the 1040 short form beside “Married Filing Jointly,” you would have to be civilly united at a courthouse or justice of the peace’s office or by some other registered civil servant of your municipality. Every single man, woman, sheepdog and houseplant.
And if the Lutheran Church, the Episcopal Church, the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Church of the Poisoned Mind refused to “marry” two women, well, who the hell cares. You could still get hitched by Andy Taylor down on Main Street in Mayberry, U.S.A. Fill out the form in triplicate and pay your $25.
Think about this: today, you can be married in a church, by a member of the clergy, but no one is talking about preserving the sanctity of traditional, religious divorce. Why? Because the dissolution of a marriage is a civil act.
Today, I’m old enough and cranky enough to say that I want to get married and that I WILL marry my partner someday, if for no other reason that it will allow me to thumb my nose at the knuckle-dragging, gammy-handed, drooling troglodytes.
Someone should elect me to office. I’ll fix ’em!