Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Let's All Be Right

It doesn't make any sense to me.  But neither does eating mushrooms, running marathons, birthing children naturally, or arguing with friends and neighbors over a word.

The way I personally see it, God created plugs and outlets, and it's pretty obvious the way He intended for them to be used.  But that's me, and I also believe:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.  (11th Article of Faith, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)
To me, that says that I believe that if you believe in a God that is totally fine with plugs being with plugs and outlets being with outlets, good for you!  And I genuinely hope it makes you happy!

Along those lines, I'm fine sharing the term "marriage" with anybody who wants to use it.  But I get why a lot of people aren't.  I completely support the idea of equality for all, and I get why a lot of people consider the fight over marriage a fight for equality.

But I think there is something fundamentally broken in the argument.  As it stands, one group will win at the expense of the other group, who will lose.  And that's not good enough for me.  In order for anyone to truly come out of the debates and legislature as victorious, I think we need a marriage of the equal rights group (ERG) and the traditional values camp (TVC).

And like with any good wedding, it'll take a lot to pull it off.

Something Old:
Okay, ERG, I am going to ask you to give something up here.  Let the TVC have the word "marriage."  That's what most of them want.  According to their system of beliefs, the Bible set a definition in stone way before the constitution was written, and they are not particularly interested in a new definition.   Many of the TVC aren't particularly bugged by the idea of you cohabiting, getting medical benefits, even raising children.  They're just being a bit territorial about a word that has some seriously emotional ties for them.  Be the bigger party and let them have their word.

Something New:
If the ERG is going to give up "marriage," then there has to be something new in its place.  Something brand new that is for everyone.  A contract recognized by the government that grants the rights and protections of marriage without the religious and emotional connotations.  Let religion have marriage, and let's let government have something legal.  Separation of church and state, right?  It could be as simple as sticking with the already recognized terminology, "Civil Union," or we could come up with something totally new.  But rather than trying to change the definition of an existing word which will always carry with it it's alternate meanings, why not create a brand new term and define it exactly the way we really mean it.

Something Borrowed:
Your turn, TVC.  If you get to keep "marriage," you're going to have to budge on a few other words.  Can you agree to share terms like "husband" and "wife" with committed members of the ERG?  These words carry so much positive connotation and history, and they can certainly expand a bit to include any civilly joined pair.

Something Blue:
I can't represent myself with the popular equality square, because I think it represents ideas I can't support:

  • There is one right side in this debate.
  • People who defend traditional marriage are against equality.
  • Acceptance can solve this issue.
Of course I support equality.  Duh.  Honestly, who doesn't?  But I also support the rights of people to believe what they believe, and I can see no way of changing "marriage" that doesn't strip a huge population of their rights to define a very personal word with a longstanding tradition as they see fit.  So instead of the red equality symbol prevalent on Facebook, I'm going to change my profile picture to a new symbol.  One that means acceptance on both sides.  One that means compromise. One that means "Let's All Be Right."  

I know I'm oversimplifying.  And I'm not saying my solution is the answer.  I'm just saying there has to be a better way.  Because everyone being equal isn't enough for me.  I want everyone to get to be "right."


Unknown said...

I completely agree. That's how I feel as well.

Stephen and Rachel Whitaker said...

"A contract recognized by the government that grants the rights and protections of marriage without the religious and emotional connotations."

I often see people talk about marriage as a wholly religious institution to make points similar (although usually stronger) to yours with regard to SSM, and to divide it from what the state recognizes. One of the major problems I see is that people seem to be taking for granted is that if marriage is a religious term/construction, then what do we do about all the clergypersons who feel called and compelled to observe and perform SSMs according to the dictates of their conscience? Many of them live in states where they are not allowed to perform or otherwise participate in such marriages. We always tend to leave them out of the discussion, and there are a lot more than you might think. It would be necessary to legalize SSM to allow them this freedom of religion.

Also, marriage is too deeply embedded within our legal and tax code already to realistically expect the state to keep out of it or only recognize an alternative, so that is a problematic option as well. Giving up the word is problematic for related legal reasons, but mostly because it implicitly or even explicitly creates a tier system. It would be great for everyone to somehow agree, but is it really fair to ask others to agree to only be allowed 'marriage light' (different name, almost the same great taste!), even for the sake of compromise? I think that's a tough one, and I think we have to take the LGBT community's word for it that real, honest-to-goodness, full-on, same-thing marriage is what they really need to feel like their rights are equally protected under the law. I love marriage so much, I hope they get it. It's amazing.

Andrea said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog! Like I said - my post is totally oversimplified, and I know that. I'm trying to describe an ideal world I know probably can't exist, which means it is full of holes just waiting to be exposed. And what I'm saying is, as much as I love marriage, I'd be okay with putting that title to the side to participate in something new that I could share with all people. I think marriage has already been defined by eons of tradition (overstatement, now...), and I would rather participate in the creation of something new than the fight that exists around the restructuring of the old. I think there is no way to fix "marriage" that everyone can be happy with.