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Marriage and Civil Unions - Transience Divine
February 18th, 2005
12:44 am

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Marriage and Civil Unions
Life> Not much sleep this week, but Body's been treating me well. After being on edge Monday and Tuesday from lack of sleep, he was totally refueled on 7.5 hours. Then, last night, I left my keys at Olin and had to sleep in a lounge at MIT, but Body kicked me off my couch after 5 hours and told me to catch my train.

Politics> In Don't Think of an Elephant, Lakoff has a discussion of conservative and liberal frames for thinking about same-sex marriage and notes the divide between pragmatic progressives, who see civil unions as a sufficient option for homosexuals, and idealistic progressives, who feel full marriage must be an option for everyone. But I'm confused. My opinion is neither (or both?) and I don't see how the others are justified in light of it from a liberal outlook. So I want to realize my blindness. Below is my thought on this. Does anyone know a good article for why this view isn't more widely taken?

  1. The ultimate solution to this problem is for all references to "marriage" to be removed from the law, and for the benefits currently conferred by it to be made available through a much more general system, which would have no reference to gender. Churches could have whatever internal definition of marriage they want, though.

  2. However, as long as the government is officially sanctioning marriage for heterosexuals, civil unions for others are grossly inadequate, socially.

As to whether same-sex civil unions in the meantime are "good policy", because they'll pave the way to the ultimate solution, or "bad policy", because they'll take pressure away from getting the ultimate solution, then, is just a matter of predictive sociology, assuming we can get to the end goal within our lifetimes.

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From:siderea
Date:February 18th, 2005 05:56 am (UTC)
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Well, that's close to my take on it, but I have the understanding that

3. Removing all references to "marriage" from all law (50 states, one district, possibly territorys, and the feds) is likely to be one of the single most unpopular and logistically fraught activism projects ever embarked upon.

People really, really like marriage. I suspect they'd pretty much flip out if you did anything which might possibly be construed as "taking it away from them".

If you think people are up in arms because of giving additional peoples marriages, imagine if you were trying to "take their marriages away from them".


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From:jrising
Date:February 18th, 2005 11:30 pm (UTC)
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If you think people are up in arms because of giving additional peoples marriages, imagine if you were trying to "take their marriages away from them".

It's nothing new for us to be challenging that kind of assumption (hmm, that should have a name! I'm going to coin it a negative causal fear-- or a valued counterfactual assumption).

I guess I'm unreasonably downplaying the argument over "means" when there's so much "means" to go to get the "ends". But it seems like we're fighting the wrong conception. I feel sorry for all the SJs, who, after they finally accept and even take pride in opening they're "marriage" to homosexuals, are going to have to shift things again. And as long as we leave it in a broken state, it will get exacerbated sooner or later (group marriages, anyone?).
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