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A Case for Civil Unions November 15, 2008

Posted by Kate Ryan in National Politics, popular culture.
Tags: , ,

gay_marriageThe fact that Californians approved Proposition 8 outlawing gay marriage in that state really surprised me.  Like many people, I tend to think of California as the hippest, coolest, most forward-thinking place in the country.  Its willingness to enshrine inequality in the state constitution shows that some things are best NOT left to the will of the people.

I am a late-comer in supporting gay marriage.  For a long time, I vehemently opposed it.  I couldn’t tell you why I was against it – it was one of those that that was just “not right”.  I cringe when I think about it now, but I actually remember saying that society should not support deviant behavior by normalizing it.  My daughter – who was 16 at the time – and I actually engaged in a screaming argument about the issue.  She kept saying to me that she could not figure out why I felt so threatened by two people wanting to get married.  When I looked to my husband for support, he told me he had to go with the kid on this one.  They really challenged me to really review my why.  After mulling it over for several weeks, I realized that even though I am not a religious person, my objections were based in the vestiges of my Roman Catholic upbringing.  

 To me, and, I believe, to many others, the word “marriage” holds a religious connotation.   It is this idea of what marriage means, I think, that caused Prop 8 to pass.  In the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacrament – a very serious religious undertaking.  Since my husband was married before – in the Church – and had no annulment, he and I were married in a very lovely ceremony before a judge.  I didn’t feel less married because I wasn’t married in Church.  The juxtaposition of my feelings about marriage in general and my own situation was what finally made me start coming around.

At first, I supported civil unions.  I believed that this would be a great compromise.  People like the former me could support legal gay partnerships if they just stayed away from that pesky little “marriage” word.  That was until my husband argued that supporting civil unions was akin to supporting Plessy v. Ferguson (upholding “separate but equal”).  And I realized that it was – so I got on board for full marriage rights.  But it took me a year to get there.

I’m telling this story because in the wake of Prop 8, I am back to supporting civil unions.  This time, however, I think we need civil unions for everyone. 

I would like to propose that all the states should pass marriage laws similar to that of France.  French law only recognizes civil marriages.  There, a couple MUST be married by a civil authority.  Religious ceremonies carry no legal status and are strictly optional; they can only take place after the civil ceremony is completed.  Though France does not currently recognize gay marriges, it would be easy enough as there could be no real religious objections since marriage is strictly a civil affair.  

The State of California should lead the way and re-write its laws to make all unions civil and “marriage” a strictly religious ceremony.   Those people with religious objections would be free to join a church that is hostile to gay marriages and wouldn’t perform them.  The more enlightened demnominations would, so that those gay couples desiring a religious ceremony could still have one.  Either way, the religious ceremony (marriage) would not be required for legal status.  If the people of California want to say that “marriage” can only be between a man and a woman – let them.  But there would be no need to codify a strictly religious point of view in the constitution.



1. johnbisceglia - November 16, 2008

The U.S. government crossed a VERY serious line with PROP 8.

This “proposition” threatened children’s sense of safety and belongingness in California. Children’s safety.

Regardless of THIS particular fight, there are way too many fights on way too many fronts for us to conquer piecemeal. The Time is Now – DRAW A NEW LINE in the sand and demand from President Obama and our representatives FULL EQUALITY.

Equality Is Simple When You Simply Include Everybody.

What? Not detailed enough for the lawyers?

OK, we can list repealing DOMA, repealing DADT, include transgender in the ENDA Bill, allow adoption of abandoned children, equality in immigration issues, recognize our hate crimes as such, equal family/children rights……….whew! See what I mean?

We are EQUAL SOULS in HUMAN BODIES. Could we please STOP discriminating due to the genitalia attached? Plumbing will determine each civil right?! Any separation from the pack is ultimately due to gender (and/or gender roles & stereotyping), and that is SEXISM. I cannot marry Bob because I am the “wrong” gender; if I were a woman I could marry Bob. SEXISM.

And I cannot stress ENOUGH how my own suffering from Marriage Inequality is NOT the reason for wanting or needing equality. I am not something to focus on. But my story, and the stories of countless other Americans desperately need to be addressed in this civil rights struggle. Marriage laws were put in place many years ago in order to PROTECT individuals and their FAMILIES; if they were NOT necessary they would not exist (for heterosexuals). When these laws are NOT in place for ALL OF US, horrible, horrible suffering occurs. My WEBSITE has many examples.

So Americans want to continue denying us what they have already deemed as essential. And many people want us to WAIT…2….5……10…….20……..30 YEARS, depending on the “civil right”, for what WAS and IS our birthright.

I personally have a HUGE problem with that. I cannot wait. I will not wait.

Will you join me on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, and help me inform the government that WE are eager to be included in the federal tax base as soon as THEY include us in society’s laws? My 5-year-old students could understand this concept: EQUAL = EQUAL

As Americans can’t we agree that there are MANY other important issues to address (like the Economy, Education, Health Care, Poverty & Homelessness, Iraq/Afghanistan…all of these are related), and solving THOSE problems is more urgent than having “Equality Issues” TIE UP THE COURTS for another 30+ years? We will NOT go away.

You keep procreating; we keep popping out. Sorry.

Our representatives have spent years inventing 4-letter words (DOMA, DADT) to restrict us, deny us, demoralize us, and harm our beloved families and children. Enough is enough.


The National Equality Tax Protest
– Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 –

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