My Civil Union
If the debate and controversy surrounding Prop. 8 have taught us anything, its that few issues evoke more passion than gay marriage. Those in favor view the abridgment of a homosexual's right to marry as a violation of their most fundamental of freedoms, while those opposed view gay marriage as an affront to the moral fabric that underlies our fine nation.
I too have always felt a little conflicted on this issue. While I without question support the right of gays and lesbians to come together in order to form lifelong partnerships, I cannot argue with the fact that marriage is a term caught up in the trappings of religion. Historically, marriage consisted of a bride and groom being brought together into holy matrimony under the auspices of a priest or minister officiating at a local church. Simply, marriage is a term and an institution that has throughout history been associated with religion. This is why I have always found it is easier to support the idea of full civil unions rather than marriage for gays and lesbians.
Recently, however, I have begun to question even my own attachment to the term marriage. While I may be straight, I am by no stretch of the imagination religious. So for what reason do I feel the need to get married? When I gave it a little thought, I struggled to find one answer as to why a civil union would be insufficient for my purposes. I am not religious and I frankly feel no need to participate in the traditional marriage ritual. I would go so far as to actually say that those who are straight but not religious should express their solidarity with the gay community by requesting civil unions as well. This is what I hope to someday do.
I believe that this sort of understanding of gay marriage has the potential bridge the divide of opinion that currently exists in America. The State could issue civil unions to all those who desired them, gay and straight alike. Those who felt so inclined could take the additional step and participate in a marriage ceremony at their local place of worship. Civil unions would remain the proper domain of the state and marriage the proper domain of religion.