It’s Not a Gay Thing...

Why the debate over same-sex marriage misses the point

| July-August 2008

  • Gay Marriage

    image by Rachel Ann Lindsay

  • Gay Marriage

This article is part of a package on rethinking marriage. For more read  …or is it? testimonials and portraits from same-sex couples denied the benefits of marriage.

A consumer of current news might imagine that access to same-sex marriage is the most contested issue in contemporary family policy, and that marriage is the only cure for the disadvantages lesbian and gay families face. Both of these observations would be wrong. The most contested issue in contemporary family policy is whether married-couple families should have “special rights” not available to other family forms. Excluded families include unmarried couples of any sexual orientation, single-parent households, extended-family units, and any other constellation of individuals who form relationships of emotional and economic interdependence that do not conform to the one-size-fits-all marriage model. No other Western country, including those that allow same-sex couples to marry, creates the rigid dividing line between the law for the married and the law for the unmarried that exists in the United States.

I propose family law reform that would recognize all families’ worth. Marriage as a family form is not more important or more valuable than other forms of family, so the law should not give it more value. Couples should have the choice to marry based on the spiritual, cultural, or religious meaning of marriage in their lives; they should never have to marry to reap specific and unique legal benefits. I support the right to marry for same-sex couples as a matter of civil rights law. But I oppose discrimination against couples who do not marry, and I advocate solutions to the needs all families have for economic well-being, legal recognition, emotional peace of mind, and community respect.

 



Bonnie Cord graduated from law school and began working at a government agency. She bought a home with her male partner in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. When she applied to take the Virginia bar exam—a test necessary to obtain the right to practice law in the state—a judge ruled that her unmarried cohabitation made her morally unfit to do so.

Catrina Graves was driving her car behind a motorcycle driven by Brett Ennis, the man with whom she had been living for seven years. A car failed to stop at a stop sign and hit Brett’s motorcycle; Brett was thrown onto the pavement. Catrina saw the accident, stopped her car, and ran to Brett, who had suffered trauma to his head and was bleeding from the mouth. He died the next day. When Catrina sued the driver for negligent infliction of emotional distress, the court dismissed her lawsuit because she was not related to Brett by blood or marriage.

mudassar.ahmad.161009
1/1/2014 9:24:04 AM

The same sex marriage is against the law of the nature. However, only a http://www.roselaw.com.au/areas-of-law/family-law/divorce-applications/ or some expert at family law can chat on the legal fronts of these debates.


Terence
8/19/2009 11:13:44 PM

The first comment on this page states that "There is a reason society has granted heterosexual couples the rights they have." We may agree on the reality of causation, but not the cause itself: The tradition of viewing married couples as the atomic unit of society is an outdated practice dating back to prehistorical times. In today's world, the matter of marriage should be a spiritual and personal decision, not an economic and political one. If I believed people decided to get married based on economic reasons, and that children are always conceived within the confines of marriage, then I could agree with faultroy. However, I must say that the solution outlined in this article is wise and worldly, being rooted in the actual behaviors of the population and the reaction of the state. Policy should follow culture, and the fact of the matter is that heterosexual, lifelong, patriarchal marriage is no longer the norm in our society. Government has no place in rewarding such a practice, because it is neither practiced nor desired by a large and growing portion of the populace.


Terence
8/19/2009 11:13:29 PM

The first comment on this page states that "There is a reason society has granted heterosexual couples the rights they have." We may agree on the reality of causation, but not the cause itself: The tradition of viewing married couples as the atomic unit of society is an outdated practice dating back to prehistorical times. In today's world, the matter of marriage should be a spiritual and personal decision, not an economic and political one. If I believed people decided to get married based on economic reasons, and that children are always conceived within the confines of marriage, then I could agree with faultroy. However, I must say that the solution outlined in this article is wise and worldly, being rooted in the actual behaviors of the population and the reaction of the state. Policy should follow culture, and the fact of the matter is that heterosexual, lifelong, patriarchal marriage is no longer the norm in our society. Government has no place in rewarding such a practice, because it is neither practiced nor desired by a large and growing portion of the populace.