Daily Archives: March 16, 2009

Civil Unions vs. Gay Marriage

Civil Unions


Gay Marriage:

A Step in the Direction of Justice


An Unacceptable Compromise:

A Point/Counterpoint Discussion

Point Position by Iggy Donnelly:

The fiercest opponents of gay marriage will oppose civil unions for gay couples no matter what. Civil unions, however, will take away the principle objection that many gay marriage opponents harbor, viz., that marriage is a Christian rite that extends beyond the reach of secular courts. Of course, this objection is ill-founded on its face, because marriage while perhaps originally a church ritual, has extended its nonsecular influence into civil and property inheritance legal spheres. It makes no sense to argue that marriage is strictly a religious ritual. It is obviously much more than that.

I believe that gay marriage will be a legally recognized unions, if not within my lifetime, it will certainly be so recognized in lifetimes of my children.  I propose the position that there are reasons to believe the adoption of civil unions for gays will usher in a period of wider acceptance of gay marriage.

In terms of definitions, I am proposing that gay civil unions shall have all of the property and inheritance rights that exists currently for heterosexual marriages. I think the “separate but equal” provision is both a troubling matter, but also an important strategic opportunity. Of course the “separate but equal” status is deeply troubling because of the racist history of our country. As a child, my father grew up in the 1930’s Oklahoma, and he recalled the separate fountains and bathrooms for “coloreds”. At the time, through youthful eyes, he thought the discrimination in facilities was pretty foolish. If separate but equal marriages are adopted, we can only hope that contemporary youth will be impressed in the same way my father was in long ago Oklahoma.

In regard to the positives of civil unions for gays, this change would represent a legal “foot in the door.” Maybe not the change we ultimately want, but a step in the right direction. People change incrementally sometimes and this may be one of those areas and times when that is most likely to be true. Leon Festinger, the cognitive dissonance theorist noted that changing people’s behavior brought about much more change in their attitudes than ever was accomplished in the reverse direction. It may be possible when no cataclysmic disasters occur as a result of gay civil unions, fence sitters may be prepared to make a further change and fully accept  gay marriage.

I contend civil unions for gays is a step forward. My colleague, whom I greatly admire, has a different opinion.


Filed under GLBT Rights

Obama’s biggest mistake, so far

In my view Obama’s biggest mistake has been the retention of the Bush era faith-based initiatives.  If Obama requires that these programs engage in program evaluation and if they are able to demonstrate their effectiveness – that would be a huge improvement over the Bush effort.  My understanding is that many of the Faith-based programs wanted their programs evaluated but Bush, Rove, et al. would not do that.

The faith-base service movement may have some advantages, but its violation of our church and state boundries is a problem, IMHO.


Filed under The Public Square