Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sullivan Responds to Post on Privatizing Marriage:

First, I want to thank Andrew Sullivan for giving me the time of day and responding to my proposal to privatize marriage.

Let me comment on two important points Sullivan makes. One:

[C]ivil unions for any two persons, straight or gay, who cannot marry - do not and would not carry the full rights of marriage. And they equate the lifetime emotional commitment of a gay couple to temporary friendships, contracts of domestic convenience, financial deals, or other extraneous couplings.

I tend to agree with Sullivan here. If heterosexuals get "marriage" and some alternative civil union for any two people who cannot marry is proposed, the alternative will be separate and unequal. I can live with equal rights for same sex couples without the government endorsed word "marriage"; but I can't live with unequal rights. It's got to be every single right, privilege and duty of marriage without the name. In practical reality I think the ONLY way to get such equality without the government endorsed word "marriage" is to give same sex and opposite sex couples the same thing, that is a legal mechanism the government refuses to name "marriage." It will be integrated, equal, and whether it's a real marriage or not it's not the government's call.

The harder question Sullivan poses is whether this option is realistic at all:

But does Jon faintly believe that this country will ever vote or courts will ever rule that an institution already judged profound and unalienable by the Supreme Court will be abolished? That's pure fantasy. The actual lives of gay people and their families, meanwhile, are not fantasy.

Here's why I think my proposal isn't a fantasy. As it stands, yes, the country doesn't want this. The country also doesn't want gay marriage. Whether the pro-SSM side can get a majority (that is 50% plus) of the population on its side within the foreseeable future is uncertain.

If the pro-SSM side continues to win battles with a large part, perhaps majority of the nation on the other side, I could easily see a consensus settling on privatizing marriage as a reasonable compromise. This may be the only way to diffuse a political-culture war issue that will continue to divide America in ugly ways.

It's likelier that the nation would settle for this than SSM everywhere in all 50 states. And it may turn out to be the only option for those of us who desire gay equality but don't want a backlash that could, at worst, lead to the FMA, God forbid.

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