Given the liberal content of my previous posts, you will probably not be surprised to know that I wholeheartedly support legalizing same-sex marriage (as well as legal rights and protections for homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered persons). However, in the proverbial mundus perfectus, I again propose something far more radical.
In the United States and most other countries today, the concept of “marriage” has a twofold meaning: the relatively simple legal definition, detailing benefits and shared financial and visitation arrangements between most often two different parties; and the complex, varied traditions of most cultures, societies, and religions, such as the associated Christian commandments and beliefs, the Islamic tradition, the Church of Latter-day Saints traditions, the general American belief in a loving marriage, and the traditional custom of arranged marriage in many cultures worldwide. Using the same word for both a legal union and cultural bond is quite misleading, and quite possibly the root of many of the current moral and legal debates on the issue.
I propose that the entwined concepts of legal union and cultural marriage should be, as it were, divorced. The word “marriage”, and the cultural and social values associated with it should be struck entirely from the law books. Instead, the federal government should provide for a “legal union” between any two consenting citizens with all the same benefits and rights presently granted to marriage. (“Civil unions” in the United States presently do not offer nearly the same standard of legal rights.) What is or is not a “marriage” is for prevailing and other cultures to decide, not the government itself, which should be concerned with legal matters. Under this system, gay and lesbian couples would enjoy the exact same rights and status as heterosexual ones, but the government would still not be granting “marriage”, a cultural institution over which it has no inherent power, to homosexual couples, so the so-called moral concerns of the conservative right would be suddenly made baseless. #