Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mutual sacrifice

I've seen, many times, in the argument over same-sex marriage, the idea advanced "one-man/one-woman marriage is the foundation of society, and for the sake of the children produced in marriage, and thus for the future of society, it should have its own place - a special elevated niche."

I actually have quite a lot of sympathy with this idea.  Clearly, male/female unions are extremely important; they are first-class, simply because they produce new life.  They do need to be elevated and exalted, I think - and supported by the entire society.  Not that same-sex unions are any less valuable to the people in them (including any kids), but that the very place where life is created is, in fact, something sui generis and extremely important.  It could be that it ought to be formally recognized as such, in the law.

So then, gay couples could sacrifice the idea of "marriage," and settle for "civil unions," just as a way of demonstrating their respect for the institution of heterosexual marriage.  Gay couples could say:  "We acknowledge the importance of your union to us and to our society.  We will no longer ask for 'marriage'; instead, we will accept a separate-but-equal status, simply as a way to acknowledge the central importance of the creation of life that's at the heart of your union.  You shall have 'marriage'; we shall have 'civil union.'"

In return, heterosexual couples couples could politely demur, saying:  "No.  You shall have marriage, just as we do.  There is no reason to turn you into second-class citizens.  You may not be quite what we are, but you are human beings nonetheless - and besides, it's just totally silly to have two sets of parallel laws that do exactly the same thing."

See?  "Mutual sacrifice."  After you.   And even if it didn't go this way - if the return gesture didn't happen, that is:  we'll still end up with "civil unions," the legal, equal recognition of our partnerships.   I don't see the problem with this, myself - but of course, I'm not in a partnership, either, so perhaps there is some problem with it.

(It really is rather stupid, in the end, to have two sets of laws that do exactly the same thing, merely for the sake of a word.  But then, this has all become quite a ridiculous discussion at this point, hasn't it?  I just got off another of those threads wondering why we shouldn't allow incestuous marriage, if we allowed same-sex ones.  Yikes.)

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