The debate about same-sex marriage has raged on for the past few years. I have personally been trying to find a stance that I feel comfortable with. On one side, I believe in maximising individual liberty and opportunity for all - regardless of adult sexual orientation, but I also acknowledge that marriage is a sacred institution for many, or at least a very important institution that in many cultures is strictly defined as being between a man and a woman. For a long time, I believed that those in same-sex relations should be allowed civil unions that have equal status to federally-recognised marriages, but the notion of "separate but equal" is a hard one to swallow in this day and age.
Ultimately, I have come to a solution that I am comfortable with... civil unions for all, marriages if you can get one.
I do not believe that a secular government has the authority to sponsor a single definition of marriage. Marriages should be left strictly to private religious institutions or social groups. Marriage seems to be a purely ceremonial thing and each culture has its own definitions, requirements, and rules regarding marriage. Supporting a single definition is not fair and breaches the concept of a separation between religion and state.
Civil unions, on the other hand, are purely legal constructions with no affiliation to any culture, religion, or social group. That is the domain of the government. All those in a relationship that seek to be recognised by the government and be given the associated benefits of being in a legal union must be granted a civil union - regardless of adult sexual orientation. That way, the government will not favour any particular group of people or sponsor a single definition of marriage.
If religious groups do not think that same-sex marriages are recognised by God, then they do not have to marry those in a same-sex relationship. They can marry those that will be recognised by their God(s) in their places of worship. A marriage, though, should have no legal bearing on government recognition of a couple.
The definition of marriage is not the same for all people. For the government to enforce one single definition on everyone is wrong. Those in same-sex (or multi-partner) relationships argue that it is unfair that the government defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. I agree. The government should not be able to define what a marriage is.
Marriage is currently in two part. There is the legal part of it, then there is the ceremonial part. Really, a marriage is a civil union with a title based on its ceremonial or traditional nature. I say we separate those two parts. The government should be in the business of granting civil unions, not marriages.
In my proposition, let homosexual people get married by an institution or social group in a ceremonial nature like everyone else, if they choose, and apply for civil union status like everyone else...
Ultimately, it is all about rights. Everyone is guaranteed their rights by the government through civil unions. Marriage is not about rights - it is about some kind of ceremonial or spiritual recognition of your union with your partner. There is no redefining involved. I advocate letting people define it whatever way they want.
If people consider their marriages to be sacred then they have the right to think so. Freedom of thought!
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