Thursday, September 04, 2003

Hello Matthew, et al.

Though the post about gay marriages is old, it seems in the spirit of these things--not that I've ever done this before--to pipe up.

As you can imagine, Canada's recent move toward gay marriages provoked something of a stir in the US, but only in the sense that it seems that the federal government--Republicans for sure, and Democrats because they tend to be weak--is doing what it can to quash legislation at the federal level that allows gay marriages. There's the move to define marriage as explicitly between a man and a woman, and that's it.

Though I am not gay--and indeed, am about to be married--this of course bothers me, mostly because one's sexual orientation seems far more complicated than just "I like girls" or "I like boys," and I wish that the law would reflect that. But of course it doesn't. Indeed, I can't think of a single thing Bush has done that does reflect reality, but then again, we're talking about a man who doesn't get out much.

Anyhoo, to some extent, though, I'm not sure it matters. Vermont, a state in the US, quietly allowed civil unions for non-heterosexual couples; I suspect that slowly other states will follow suit. They'll have to, as people move out of Vermont, settle down in other states, and expect that the legal rights they enjoyed there will translate over. Also because it's my opinion that as you move from national-level politics to local-level politics, government policies begin more and more to reflect the actual needs of the people. If that assumption is right, then civil unions, if not marriages, for gay couples are just around the corner in California and New York--which would be a big step toward other states falling it, albeit slowly.

But is it worth all the trouble? After all, domestic partnerships, which at least in New York same-sex couples are allowed to have, can fulfill many of the legal functions of a marriage certificate, in that they allow you to get on each others' health insurance plans, buy property together, etc.--not everywhere of course, but it can be done. How important is it that a full-fledged marriage be allowed?

This, of course, leads to what is to my mind the big question: what does marriage mean anyway? What does it mean if you're straight? What does it mean if you're gay?

Have at it.

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