March 18, 2003
More on Gay Unions

Yesterday's Tampa Tribune Op/Ed page had three columns that all dealt with gay unions, although one never mentioned them at all. It was an interesting juxtaposition, and I wonder if the editors even noticed the connection between the two gay union pieces (one in support, and one in opposition) and the third, that dealt with the problems faced by children of cohabitating parents.

Jeff Jacoby, with whom I usually agree, is off-base in his criticism of the merits of Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health, a law challenging Massachusetts law's definition of marriage as heterosexual-only unions. He takes Andrew Sullivan to task by attempting to link gay unions with polygamy or incestuous relationships, and stating that they are the logical next step in redefining marriage. Sullivan has rightly dismissed such arguments as half-baked poppycock. I don't buy the slippery slope arguments either. Although there are groups advocating such views, they have as much relevance as the KKK and NAMBLA; they are groups which have far more power as icons than as serious agents for change.

Jacoby's opposition to gay unions could be significantly undercut by simply limiting "marriage" to services performed by the clergy in a house of worship. Any service performed by a judge or a justice of the peace would be defined as a civil union, with the same legal guarantees in place. This is a subject I have discussed before, and I still think it is a workable agreement. It preserves the sanctity of marriage for those who dislike the idea of a civil union, and it does not abridge the civil rights of gays or any who do not wish to go to a church for a wedding.

Ellen Goodman, on the other hand, is a great litmus test for me—almost anything she supports is something I will oppose. However, in the case of Lawrence vs. Texas, I wholeheartedly support her arguments. She points out the fact that a consensual relationship between these two men resulted in arrest, jail time, a fine, and a permanent criminal record. As she points out:

The Texas misdemeanor not only disqualified John Lawrence and Tyron Garner from being employed in more than a dozen professions, but would have required them to register as sex offenders in at least four states. It's been used against public employment of gays and in custody disputes.

The Supreme Court's decision in Bowers vs. Hardwick in 1986 was shameful, and I am hopeful that they will reverse themselves in Lawrence vs. Texas.

The third column, by Mona Charen, fits nicely into the debate because, although she is arguing from a conservative point of view (the case for marriage), all of her arguments can be used to justify the case for gay marriage, as well as straight marriage. I doubt she would come to the same conclusion, but reading each of her points shows that a household with two gay (married) parents would enjoy more stability than a household with two unmarried parents. By legalizing gay unions, we will improve the lives of children being raised by gay parents everywhere. (I wonder if such an argument could be used to persuade Jeff Jacoby...)

posted on March 18, 2003 01:03 PM


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