People seem to hear wildly different things when someone says ‘Gay Marriage’. The
damned immoral liberals supporters hear equal treatment under the law; public recognition of a union and the end of oppression of a minority group. The soulless hate mongers conservative opponents hear a contradiction in terms; an impossibility; an absolute moral wrong. Sane people keep an eye out for projectiles and try to sneak off before it gets ugly. The problem isn’t gay marriage.
The problem is a failure to define terms. Marriage is basically two unrelated things:
- The religious act of creating a divinely solemnized union
- The secular act of entering into an enforceable social contract of pooled resources and shared responsibilities
The religious meaning of marriage is beyond any law. If a group’s faith demands that the only holy union that can exist is between three men, two women and a very nervous goat, neither legislative fiat nor popular vote is going to change their minds about it. Trying to legislate the religious idea of marriage is like trying to define the size and shape of raindrops in a bucket.
The secular meaning of marriage is just a legally enforceable partnership – a social contract. Governments can and should provide the legal framework for social contracts for the protection of all those involved.
When the ideas are separated, the solution becomes obvious. There is no reason that any number of persons of any gender cannot enter into an agreement to live together, pool their resources, and share their responsibilities. The age, race, gender, sexual orientation and number of participants is irrelevant. The simple fact is that people have formed such relationships informally throughout history and will continue to do so regardless of legal status. The only difference between this and marriage as it exists today is that members of an informal contract often have no legal recourse if the terms are violated or changed.
The way to get people to stop pissing and moaning about what marriage means is a good old-fashioned schism. Something like this:
- The term marriage is solely religious.
- Separation of church and state is needed so all governments are prohibited from using the word marriage in all forms of law. Current laws involving the word marriage must be rewritten or be struck down.
- All religious institutions, congregations, groups and individuals retain the right to define and use the term marriage as they deem appropriate.
- Equal treatment to any and all types of social contract, regardless of race, gender, creed, sexual orientation and number of participants, shall become legal and enforceable.
- Laws will be created to provide a basic framework and default conditions for all social contracts including rules and procedures for forming, dissolving and breaking them.
- Social contracts and all related laws shall be clear, concise and avoid legal jargon so they are easily understood.**
- All participants must show that they fully understand and accept the content of their contract. Governments must ensure participants understand fully and appropriate fees should be charged for this service.
- Existing marriages will be converted to social contracts using the default conditions in the law. Participants are free to reject this and have no contract or may choose to write their own contract and get it approved.
- Right wing nut-jobs and commie liberals shall shut up about gay marriage and stop pissing the rest of us off all the time.
**This is possibly a deal breaker. Asking politicians to make laws that are clear and concise is tantamount to asking them to stop breathing. (Not a bad idea, but also not likely to yield results.)
(Late edit: Time has partly passed this post by. I still hold that my solution is better, but I am quite pleased that gay marriage is now the law of the land. Love is love.)