February 13th, 2010
Inspired by Post-ABC Poll: Views on gay marriage steady, more back civil unions (WashingtonPost.com 2/12/10), Marriage or Civil Union? (Huffington Post 2/13/09), Straight Couples in France Are Choosing Civil Unions Meant for Gays (Washington Post 2/14/09), Term civil union should replace marriage (Payy Voice 11/17/08), and Marriage is to Religion What Civil Union is to Government: Church and State Should Stay Separate (Hawaii Reporter 12/01/09).
“By the power vested in me by the State of _____, I now pronounce legally married.” — Priests, Ministers, and Rabbis throughout the country.
“Why should the State vest power in me, a religious figure?” — Approximate quote from a Pastor I heard interviewed on the radio but whose name I forget
A recent Post-ABC poll has found
That supporters for gay civil unions abound.
Two-thirds of people polled were in favor
Of letting gays have civil unions (thanks for the favor).
How is this statistic consistent
With the 50% of people that to same-sex marriage are resistant?
If we peel through the issue’s outer layers
We find that some gay civil union purveyors
Favor allowing that second-best opportunity
To keep gays from getting full marriage equality.
I know allowing gay civil union is Obama’s position,
But I think it was a political decision.
He had to oppose gay marriage to get elected,
But I hope his view will soon be corrected
Me, I have a practical view:
I support civil unions, and same-sex marriage too.
I think gays should support civil union laws
While pushing the marriage equality cause.
My reasons for that are twofold,
One new and one old.
The old one is that civil unions let gays most marriage rights more quickly receive.
The new is that civil unions prove gay marriage isn’t the threat opponents believe.
But as with civil rights, “separate but equal” isn’t a long term solution,
For the simple reason that it goes against the Constitution.
That’s why the Prop 8 case is a major affair
In the ongoing quest to make America more fair.
But there is one way in which just civil unions would be completely acceptable
(Perhaps the answer based on the above quotes is perceptible).
Get government out of the marriage business completely
Then people could get married (or not) discreetly.
The Religious Right says marriage is a sacred religious institution.
(Of course, they also don’t believe in evolution).
So let them have keep their “traditional” marriage definition
If they’re so against same-sex marriage recognition.
The government would just give everybody a civil union
(After all, to be legally joined you don’t need communion).
We’re supposed to have separation of church and state,
So wouldn’t this simplify the whole debate?
People that wanted to could get “married” in church
(Finding a gay-friendly one sometimes takes a little research).
People who don’t (both gay and straight)
Would just need their license issued by the state.
See, that’s really all there is to it:
Churches that want to perform gay marriages can do it.
Many already do,
And more and more are starting to.
Churches that don’t want to can continue excluding couples who are gay
(There are fewer and fewer people going to those churches anyway).
And the marriage “traditionalists” could continue to believe that gays aren’t “married”
Because the word’s definition would have been varied.
The Catholic Church already does marriage this way—
They’ve got lots of restrictions that have nothing to do with being gay.
For example, you can’t get re-married if you’ve been divorced
(Of course, some of these rules aren’t vigorously enforced).
So with the government out of the “marriage” business,
Whether gays get married wouldn’t be politicians’ business.
Gay and straight unions would be treated the same
And the GOP couldn’t continue to play their anti-gay marriage game.
Because when you peal away all the layers,
The pseudo-supporters and doomsayers,
When you get to the onion’s central part,
The same-sex marriage issue’s heart,
The central truth is plain to see–
The core of the onion is equality.
PS: Regarding terminology, if we did go the ‘civil union for all’ route, since people are used to the term marriage, there is in my view no particular reason to attempt to shift popular usage to the term “civil union” (the term “legally married” could be used instead). The key is not what it’s called, it’s that all are equal before the law.
For a voice at the other extreme of the separation of Church and State in marriage, arguing that Christians should not request marriage licenses, see 5 Reasons Why Christians Should Not Obtain a State Marriage License (Pastor Trewhella, Mercy Seat Christian Church). I have no problem with that basic principle, although some of his arguments are absurd.
Should gays accept civil unions as a substitute? Like the song suggests, substitutes are never a good long term solution.