A lot of people have apparently presumed I am anti-gay-marriage.
This is true.
Read on if you care.
I believe homosexuality is a sin. Am I certain of it? Nah. Can I argue pretty convincingly why it is, from the Bible? Including the New Testament? Yeah. Can I also argue why I think many Christians make way too much of it? Sure. But this is not about my religious beliefs, and that's the point.
Marriage is a fundamentally religious establishment. That does not mean you cannot be married if you are not religious, it only means religion created the institution, evolved it, and made it a cornerstone of our society. The state did not create marriage, it recognized what the churches had already created. And in doing so, it created a whole set of laws that go above and beyond what the religious establishment offered. They ended up creating something else, something separate, though intimately related.
At the time, there was no reason to think we might want to use those same laws for something other establishment than the husband-wife marriage. But now we do. And this causes a lot of confusion and anger, because we don't think of these as two separate things, but as one: marriage.
There was no reason to call it anything other than marriage. It's like in programming: I write a method called saveUserKarma(). But wait, I need to save other things about the user too. I could create saveUserEmailAddress(), but if I change the method just slightly, I can use it to save the user's email address. But the name doesn't really allow for that.
As I said, marriage is a fundamentally religious establishment. And if I remember correctly, the Constitution says something about Congress making no laws respecting an establishment of religion.
The answer seems pretty simple to me. Marriage is religious, which is why we have the problem: many people believe homosexuality is sinful, and gay people should not enter into the religious institution of marriage. Marriage as a civil instituion is not religious, but we have treated them as one and the same thing, for historical reasons. But government cannot legislate religious institutions.
So change the name. Simple.
Civil marriages for none, civil unions for all.
A civil union would be purely legal, a marriage purely social. A civil union would not be bound by anything having to do with beliefs -- including the incidence of love itself -- but only the legal union of two people (for starters
Obviously, this creates many legal complexities, in that a civil union is not intended to be necessarily permanent, and marriages are. But we already have a framework for this in divorce law, and this might actually end up improving the divorce process itself. Further, it very likely would tend toward making the married family unit less stable and less significant in society, but that is a social problem I believe can be addressed by society, without government.
Is this not an idea libertarian-conservatives and liberals can get behind?
On The West Wing this week, a Congressman wanted the White House to back a bill dissolving all civil marriages. The show treated it like a joke, but I believe it is the answer to the problem.