October 22, 2008 by 8junebugs
A. Poison Ivy
C. Civil Union
D. Chuck Norris
C. Civil Union
Equally analogous: Marriage is to Civil Union as Church is to State
I got a great email this morning from one of my favorite people explaining why he will not be voting for Obama this year, even though this has been the most exciting election for him since he turned 18. It’s very simple — neither candidate supports gay marriage, so he will vote for neither. And his state doesn’t allow write-ins.
This friend is straight, married, and about to become a daddy. It’s not like his rights are being infringed upon. But he’s a stand-up guy who thinks everyone else deserves the same rights he has.
We agree on this. Totally.
In answering his email, though, I thought about what might be different between us, because I am willing to cast my vote this year for what’s being called, as it is every four years, the “lesser of two evils.” (I asked someone to tell me what makes Obama evil, and I haven’t heard back yet.)
The real issue for me is deeper than marriage, gay or straight. The issue is respect for the Constitution and the basic, fundamental rights of every person. The issue is superiority and entitlement versus equal opportunity for all. An America based on freedom and equality should be able to put an overweight Black lesbian in the Oval Office, but progress takes time and the Puritans who founded this country really just meant freedom for them.
I grow increasingly certain that the real American Dream exists somewhere in Scandinavia.
Frankly, I would rather all marriages were recognized as and called civil unions under the law — “marriage,” as a sacrament blessed by clergy, can be left to the church. We make the distinction between divorce and annulment, but we don’t recognize that the same distinction exists for the union itself — my cousin and her husband are just as married as Mike and I (for 13 more days), even though they had a justice of the peace and we had a priest. If that were clearer, perhaps there would be more support for civil unions for any consenting adults, regardless of sex, race, or any other arbitrary line drawn on the zygote.
My concern is that this, like abortion or any other issue for which there’s a “morality” argument — whether that’s appropriate or not, and I generally think it’s not—becomes the One Issue that prevents even incremental progress. Can you vote this year for someone who openly supports the right of any consenting adults to build a legally recognized family? No. But you can vote for the candidate who will not propose or support in any way a constitutional amendment to ban it.
Opting out of supporting change as a philosophy because of One Issue doesn’t get us any closer to the day it will be resolved fairly, especially when that One Issue will mobilize others to vote for the other guy. If they’re eager to vote for discrimination and inequality, I think we’re obligated to counter it as best we can, rather than abstaining.
I don’t know what your One Issue is, if you have one, but consider whether you’re willing to sanction its erosion in favor of the other side. And then do everything you can to prevent that.