Alex is in a big snit over the gay-marriage debate. (Never mind that it mentions me.)
Richard Cohen is less upset, but just as thought-provoking:
There is an analogy here — I think. Just as gays are renowned for moving into urban areas that others have fled, for refurbishing whole neighborhoods and making them attractive, so they might rehabilitate and renew marriage. Of all people, they need it the least. They have already shattered convention with their lifestyles, and demolished our comfy and parochial notions of sexual categories — heterosexual male, heterosexual female and nothing else. But when it comes to marriage of all things, some of them want to veer toward the traditional. They want commitment and love — a universal truth in a manner that Jane Austen never envisaged.
michael golden said on November 20, 2003 at 9:43 am
It’s somewhat amusing to hear that the very existence of the “institution of marriage” is threatened by the concept of gay marriage. I had no idea that the “institution of marriage” was so shaky. Certainly, I fail to see how the notion of two men or two women getting “married” threatens me, my marriage or my family. On the other hand, folks in general seem to be opening up (slowly, but opening up nonetheless) to the idea of some sort of legal gay conjoining. There have been polls that affirm this. I applaud the idea and think that maybe if gay marriage were called something else there would be less hysterical opposition. After all, gays can’t marry in the truest sense of marriage. That is, marriage is a union in which the two involved persons procreate together. Two men or two women can’t procreate together. At least 50% of the newly wrought third party must originate outside the union. The logistics so dictate. This crucial distinction having been observed, maybe it wouldn’t be so awful to recognize it by calling the two different kinds of unions by two different names. I don’t think it would cost anything to throw the religious hysterics a bone by coming up with an alternate word and it could potentially save a lot of time and rancor. Maybe we can have a contest to come up with a word. Or call it marriage if you wish.
So now assume we have a legally sanctioned union of two gays. This union embraces the full sack of legal rights including all the next of kin stuff — inheritance, visitation at hospitals, insurance benefits, work related health and insurance benefits, parental rights etc. etc. But that’s only half the story. There has to be a requirement and a mechanism for a legal dissolution of that union. As gay folks get hitched (I don’t have the new word yet) so will some of them wish to break up. That means there has to be an official and legally binding way to deal with children, child support and visitation, cessation or reassignment of work related benefits, distribution of property, alimony and all the other things that are such a pleasant part of the dissolution of marriage. Failing this, I don’t think it takes much imagination to see what sorts of fraud can come from some conjoinings. We’ll see folks joining in phony unions to defraud employers out of benefits, each other out of property and so on and on. We should all be in favor of the establishment of a legal mechanism for gays to marry but we should also insure that the mechanism is a comprehensive one.