Monday, March 31, 2008

Marriage vs Civil Unions: Let’s Get Our Definitions Straight



I’ve been dreading this blog post. Not because the topic is not important. Not because I lack the necessary passion. My dread is rooted in the fact that defending mind-numbingly obvious positions, year after year after year after year, is an extremely difficult thing to do.

How does one argue with fervor that the sky is blue? How does one enter into such an odd, silly debate not just once, but many times over many years, and not get sick-to-death over the stupidity of the situation?

These were the thoughts I pondered as I prepared to write today.

I forced myself to go back to the argument’s premise for the thousandth time: Gays should not be allowed to marry. To do so would destroy the institution of marriage, the family unit, and the decency and order of our society as a whole.

As I tried to look freshly at an assertion I believed to be infuriatingly stale not to mention downright ignorant …something did crystallize. Something that both the heteros and homos of our species may not want to hear:

Whether you’re straight or gay, marriage as an institution does not exist for you as an individual. It is not there as a societal value judgment of your worth or your lifestyle. It is not there as public congratulation/recognition of the soul mate you’ve found.

Why then does marriage exist? Contrary to the beliefs of the self-focused, self-centered, ever increasing self-conscious world we live in, the institution of marriage exists solely to protect the emotional, spiritual, financial and developmental welfare of the children of such unions. People who marry have promised to be worthy vanguards of all our futures by properly raising the children in their care together, until death do they part. This is the crux of their sacred vow whether they realize it or not. Together means no divorce for any reason short of life or limb, no “irreconcilable differences”, no “growing apart.”

I don’t mean to imply that two parents are always needed for successful childrearing. If a child has only known but one parent who is good and loving …. Odds are that child will thrive. But once a child has bonded with two parents of any gender, permanent emotional harm is done when one parent leaves. The child always thinks he has been abandoned no matter how often the missing parent “visits”, no matter how nice the new mommy/daddy turns out to be. Worse, the child comes to believe nothing is sacred and permanent …. not even family. So more often than not, the child will spend the rest of his life trying to make up for the perceived abandonment. He will endlessly seek reassurance, security and confirmation of his self-worth from others. His own marriage will likely end in divorce, perpetuating similar damage to any children he may have. And so it continues.

No, the sanctity of marriage and the protection of family does not depend on the gender of those who have promised to do so. Rather, it depends on our collective acknowledgement as to the scope of the promise, the realization of who is making the promise to whom, and whether or not the promise is kept.

For those of us who do not wish to share the awesome responsibility of raising children with another ….. There is single-parent adoption. A vocation just as admirable, just as worthy as the two-parent kind. Maybe even more so.

For those who don’t want children at all (and there is no crime in that) but who do wish the responsibility that comes with bonding their own lives, dreams, aspirations and finances to those of another adult, regardless of the gender of that adult ….. There are civil unions. Civil unions that can be civilly dissolved without harming society’s children, who as it turns out are society’s future.

These are the definitions and distinctions which I submit are logical and equitable, which strengthen our institutions and protects whatever goodness our society possesses. And for the 4 millionth time …… None of it has anything to do with black/white, gay/straight, Democrat/Republican, fat/skinny.

Oh how I wish this were the last time I’d ever have to utter these words.....

1 comment:

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