There is, I believe, only one pertinent reason why gay marriage has not been legalized nationwide in America. It’s because there is an inherent repulsion about it on the part of some straight people-usually the religious ones-who believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. This “institution” (rightfully named) is sacred to them, even though the historicity of marriage was predicated on the oppression of women through ownership. Marriage began as a way of allowing men to “own” women. If straight people want to cling to this bit of archaic tripe, I say let them have it.
Do other industrialized nations agree with the general American stance against gay marriage? It doesn’t appear so. There is obvious trending toward legalization of gay marriage worldwide. Nations that have recognized this as a fundamental legal right are: South Africa, Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Israel, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, France, Germany, and Portugal. The Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Uruguay recognize partnerships; Croatia recently extended some rights for same-sex couples. New Zealand and Australia allows some of the more important rights, such as immigration and inheritance. The Taiwan government put forth a bill for same sex marriage; Brazil, Argentina, Italy, and Switzerland allowed the extension of economic and legal rights for same-sex couples, and Mexico City has become the first in that country to recognize gay civil unions, and the UK has a domestic partnership in effect. Obviously, America had fallen way behind in their respect for the rights of gay people.
America is also the only industrialized nation to have a majority adhere to monotheistic religions. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Religion has played a role throughout history in the oppression and dismissal of those deemed “lesser.” One has only to read about religious wars or Hitler’s Germany, to know this.
Opponents will repeat the refrain that marriage is a sacred institution (Would that be “Our Holy Lady of Lunatics”?). Why all the fuss about that? A relationship is made sacred only by the two people involved, not by some prescribed piece of paper sanctioned by the state. As a gay woman, I am not concerned with sacred institutions. What concerns me is what should concern all gay people, and what is at the root of the issue; namely, that gay people should be able to commit to each other and enjoy the same benefits, rights and allowances that married people do.
My solution is simple. Don’t call it marriage. Call it Civil union, or Domestic Partnership. But give those domestic partners the right to file joint tax returns, the right to have power of attorney, the right to visit and remain by the side of a sick or terminally ill partner, and to make decisions about their care and wishes, the right to adopt children, the right to inheritance from a partner, the right to equality in jobs and job benefits. Then the precious sanctity of marriage will go unscathed. If it is true, what the objectors say about why they don’t think it’s right for gay people to get married, then the problem is solved by creating Domestic Partnership as an equally beneficial alternative to marriage. If the objectors then scream and protest, that would mean their reasons were not about the defilement of something they held sacred, it would mean their reasons were about plain old prejudice, ignorance, oppression, and hatred. And should that situation arise after the legalization of Domestic Partnerships, those protesters would be revealed for the selfish, dispassionate people they are.
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