An interesting article on a slightly different approach to “gay rights.” Some of you may know I’m an unabashed traditionalist, who believes there’s a reason that marriage has classically been between a man and a woman. You know…things like continuation of the species. I heard a right-wing-nut-job one time on the radio say there are only three purposes for marriage: the civilization of men, the protection of women, and the raising of children. And I agree with that assessment.
Current laws agree; as the article states, there are 1400 state and federal rights conferred upon married couple in the US.
Typically, the challenge with gay marriage activists is that they miss the whole point when they demand recognition of same sex marriages so they can have “equal rights.” My contention has always been that they are looking for “special rights.” Because if you live with your brother, or sister, or you’re like my Aunt who lives with her mother, with finances completely entwined, then you also typically don’t have the same rights as a married couple.
The best example from the article was two elderly sisters in the UK that said, “Hey, if we were two lesbians, we’d be protected under the law. It’s a violation of our right!”
So the point of the “Beyond Marriage” movement is to change the law to bypass marriage altogether.
…advocates extending rights and benefits to a number of family structures outside the nuclear mold–from two friends or siblings who are each other’s primary caregivers to a single adult caring for an elderly parent, to children who are being raised by their grandparents.
…[a] Salt Lake City “adult designee” plan was successful in part because it establishes economic dependence as the criterion for extending benefits rather than a marital or sexual relationship. The council’s goal, expressed by several council members, was simply to get benefits for more families, not to do away with marriage or even suggest its obsolescence.
I still don’t believe all legal recognitions and protections exclusive to marriage should be just decreed available to “adult designees”, and as Ira Ellman points out in the article, I’m not sure whether an “adult designee” should have the same financial obligations at the dissolution of a relationship that a divorcing married couple have.
However, I can’t help but think that “gay rights” activists should approach the law this way rather than trying to redefine an institution as traditional and with as much religious and emotional significance as marriage.
There’s also a part of me that wonders what effect these sort of changes in the law would have on frequency of marriage itself. The article that came out a few weeks ago about more than half of women deciding against marriage, was quite deceiving (women are waiting longer, more widowed baby boomers, young college students living at home were included in the numbers as well, etc…), but it does point to the fact that legal and financial advantages of marriage are probably not the major incentives for marriage, or at least perhaps they shouldn’t be. Maybe there WOULD be fewer marriages, and most likely decidedly fewer divorces.