Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Domestically Paired Couple by Any Other Name...

I am all for equal rights for gays, including getting married if that's what they want to do. However, that said, I believe there is a way around this whole debate over whether gays should be allowed to get married that would probably satisfy all but the most ardent stickler on either side. This isn't my idea, or it isn't new. But I believe it should be the direction that the gay marriage debate ought to take.

Homosexuals want to marry because it gives both parties in the relationship the same rights that married couples now enjoy, both in terms of the tax code and for employment benefits. They also want to be recognized as a married couple by society. But isn't it possible to grant gay couples all those rights without actually calling it a marriage?

Conservatives say they want the "institution of marriage" preserved because, to them, marriage is something that is sanctioned by God. So it really, then, becomes an issue of semantics. Why not keep the definition of "marriage" as a union between one man and one woman that is sanctioned by God. Marriage can then be something performed by and sanctioned by the church. If a denomination does not approve of gay marriage, they would have the right not to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples. For gay couples, we could call it something else, such as a "domestic partnership." A domestic partnership would be sanctioned by the government and would require a domestic partnership license. But a marriage would only be sanctioned by the church, and the couple getting married would still need to get a marriage license. Legally, however, it would be equivalent to a domestic partnership license. Denominations that have no problem with alloying gay couples to marry can still, if they wish, call it marriage.

If an atheistic or agnostic heterosexual couple would prefer to get a domestic partnership license rather than a marriage license, that would be their decision to make.

So, for those who are against gay marriage, they would get to retain their definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. And for the gay couple, the domestic partnership would grant them all the legal rights and protections that being married now does. Also, if a gay couple wanted to have a wedding ceremony and even call it "getting married" there would be nothing to prevent them from doing so. It's just that everybody's legal license would read either "domestic partnership" or "marriage" and they would be legally equivalent.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Pro Rights or Anti Rights?

Let's compare:

Pro-Life - It means you do not believe it's right for a woman to have an abortion. It also means you oppose giving any woman, even those who do not share your belief, the right to have an abortion if they choose. It restricts the rights of others.

Pro-Choice - It means you may or may not believe that abortion is alright. It does mean you agree to allow others to freely choose what to believe and to act on it or not accordingly. No rights are deprived or restricted.

Creationism - It means you believe that the earth and all life on it were created in six literal days, less than 10,000 years ago. It also means you oppose teaching anything other than this belief in science classrooms, despite having absolutely no evidence to back up your belief and despite the mountains of accumulated evidence to the contrary. Children's rights to a good science education are hampered.

"Evolutionism" - It means you accept the scientific evidence at face value because you know it is based on empirical data. It means you agree with allowing actual science educators to develop the science curriculum and include all the latest evidence within it.

Anti-Gay Marriage - It means you believe that being gay and acting upon those feelings constitutes a sin against God. It also means that you do not support granting the freedom to get married to any same-sex couple. It might also mean that you believe that homosexuality is an abomination that must be stamped out.

Pro-Gay Marriage - It means that you accept the rights of others to choose the sex of their life partners and to participate in legal marriage. It means that you believe those who oppose gay marriage have the right not to marry a person of the same sex. No rights are forbidden to anyone.

Anti-Public Health Care - It means that you do not believe that those who cannot afford to pay to go to a doctor or hospital when they are ill should stay sick or die because you do not intend for one dime of your tax dollars to go to pay for someone else's health care.

Pro-Public Health Care - It means that you realize that you don't get to pick and choose line items to support with your tax dollars and that the government's job is to take care of the public welfare, which includes granting those who cannot afford it a health care plan. You believe that a healthy America is good for society and if paying for it with tax dollars goes toward that end, so be it.

Pro Gun Rights - It means that you believe everyone should have the unlimited right to own any sort of weapon and to carry it in public or in private as they wish. It also may mean that you believe it's ok to collect weapons to use against the coming chaos that will reign when the government collapses and anarchy sets in, despite more than 200 years of history showing that will not happen.

Anti Gun Rights - It means you believe the Second Amendment applies to a time when America relied on private militias to defend itself and that in today's society certain types of weapons are inappropriate for private ownership, including automatic weapons and handguns. It means you probably don't have a problem with the ownership of hunting rifles or shotguns. And, yes, it means you agree to restrict certain rights to own weapons because you believe it's a sound trade-off for a safer country. It means you agree with the premise of restricting the rights of Americans to shoot each other.

In the above examples, the conservatives and Republicans are on the side of restricting or removing people's rights in every case but one. It shows that progressives or Democrats are on the side of granting personal rights, except one - the one that allows people to own the weapons with which to shoot each other. So if you're a proud American who appreciates freedom, guess whom you should vote for in the next election!