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A more civil debate

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Making marriage a private matter would help

By Stephen Lega

I'm a fan of the comic strip The Boondocks, and last week, I couldn't help but be reminded of a strip I read years ago.
Granddad was talking to his grandsons. He thought they might have some questions in light of news reports about "gay marriage," and he wanted them to know how he felt.
"First off," he tells the boys, "all marriage is wrong."
Now before anyone gets upset, my parents have been married for close to 40 years, and I don't think they have done something wrong.
But I do think granddad had a point, at least as far as the government is concerned. I was reminded of this for two separate reasons last week.
Vice President Joe Biden recently appeared on a Sunday morning talk show and said he was "absolutely comfortable" with same sex marriage.
Biden's comments led President Barack Obama to give an interview to ABC News in which he said his views were evolving. In 2008, Obama said he opposed same sex marriage; now he says he is OK with it.
Also last week, voters made North Carolina the most recent state to outlaw same sex marriages.
Frankly, this should be a non-issue, or at least, it shouldn't be a political issue. Whether or not "gay marriage" is legal in any state or not, same sex couples are always going to exist.
I'm confident in saying that whether two men refer to one another as each other's husband or two women consider themselves to be each other's wife, it's not going to change how my mother and father feel about one another.
It won't change how my sister feels about her husband, either, and I suspect, if you are married, it won't make you love your spouse any less.
So, rather than continuing to waste time debating whether or not the government should be concerned with same sex marriage - and I predict a lot of time will be wasted on that subject during the 2012 campaign - let's just take government out of the marriage game all together.
Personally, I think if any two people want to get married they should be allowed to do so, but for some people, clearly the word "marriage" is creating a dilemma.
As an alternative, I suggest that the government only recognizes civil unions, no matter if they are between one man and one woman, two men or two women.
That way "marriage" can be left up to the individuals involved in the relationship and whatever minister may be involved with the ceremony.
If your church doesn't want to perform weddings for same sex couples, fine, that's your church's prerogative. At the same time, if the minister down the street wants to marry every same sex couple in town, that would be fine, too.
Honestly, I find it odd that people are still debating whether or not homosexuality is a choice (it's not). Enough research has been done to establish that people don't decide one day, "I'm going to be a homosexual." They really are born that way.
Many opponents of same sex marriage consider homosexuality "unnatural," but if that was the case, then you would expect that only humans would engage in homosexual behaviors. The truth is scientists have observed and documented homosexual behavior and relationships in thousands of animal species, including mammals, birds and reptiles, and even among insects.
Now, I'm not writing this column to debate what the Bible says about this issue or whether or not churches should be required to accept homosexuality any more than they should believe in evolution.
My only point is that the debate on "gay marriage" is being complicated by that fact that the government is involved. By making marriage a private matter, then we wouldn't have to listen to politicians wasting our time on the matter.
By limiting the government's involvement to civil unions, it would be easier for everyone to accept same sex partners receiving the same tax rules as heterosexual couples. It would also make it much easier for lifelong partners when dealing with things like health insurance and visitation in the hospital.
In my mind, this entire issue boils down to a semantic debate.
What is marriage? That's up to you to decide.
If you want to claim the Bible is your standard, go ahead.
But if you believe our understanding of the world has improved in the past 2,000 years, well, that's fine, too.