The debate over same-sex marriage has caused me to reassess my own views and look at the issue as both a moral and religious question as well as a civil rights issue. As I tried to reconcile my opposition to gay marriage vs. my desire for gay couples to enjoy the same civil rights; it became clear to me that this is really a separation of Church and State issue.
Only the truly bigoted of us would want to deny same sex couples the same civil rights granted to heterosexual couples who have been legally married. So if we use that common ground as the basis for a solution to this problem. The answer is clear. Civil Unions for ALL!
Marriage should not be the legal basis upon which “couples rights” are granted. The government should simply get out of the marriage business and require all couples; gay and straight, who intend to “unite” their assets and liabilities in a legal manner to apply for a civil union license. Leave the Marriages to the church.
A straight couple that wishes to marry would have to first become “United” in the eyes of the state. Completion of that union would be the trigger for all the civil rights that couples enjoy under the current marriage laws. Whether or not they go on to be “ Married” by the church or organization of their choice would be a joint decision for both the religious or secular organization that would sanction said marriage and the individuals who seek to be “married” . This would put the burden on the organization to decide if they wish to sanction a same sex marriage and on the individual to meet the requirements of that organization. The Catholic Church, for example, could decide to not allow same sex marriages but that would not deny the same sex couple their right to “Unite” under the law and seek an alternative organization to sanction their marriage.
Forcing the extra step of a Civil Union upon heterosexual couples may also have the effect of restoring some of the credibility of marriage. Forcing couples to think more about the legal ramifications of a union can only be a good thing for our divorce rates.
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