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 thatshall 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.