Marriage equality: A way in

First, please forgive me for sharing this bit of unintentional humor. In the midst of a recent (yay!) substantive discussion about the meaning of the much-abused term “conservative,” a commenter who goes by the handle “t” (that’s supposed to be “cross,” not a lower-case t; he fancies himself a Christian) intruded with this:

Excuse me, Jonathan, but what would a homosexual comprehend about spousal rights?

“t” is of course absolutely correct; in all but two states, the experience of gay partners would be more in the area of spousal responsibilities. Still working on the rights part, thanks.

This hot “culture war” topic is the subject of an editorial – Gay marriage: A way out – in Monday’s USA Today, arguably the very middle channel of the mainstream. What is presented here – separating the civil from the religious union – is not exactly a novel idea; the significance is in where it appears, presented as an eminently reasonable compromise:

Liberal-minded Americans should like this proposed arrangement because everyone gets treated the same, and the state deprives no one of his or her rights based upon sexual orientation. If a gay couple is denied the right to marry, it would only be because their religious community denied it, in which case they could turn to a church or synagogue that would consecrate their marriage.

Conservatives should like the arrangement because religious institutions will not be forced to recognize relationships that they feel are contrary to the teachings of scripture. Nor will they be forced to call something “marriage” that to them plainly isn’t. At the same time, the proliferation of domestic partnerships would create more familial and financial stability.

What’s not to like? Discuss.

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