I really hate arguing semantics. That’s why the same-sex marriage debate frustrates me.

There are an awful lot of things in this country that I think would be much better off if the government stayed out of them.

The United States Postal Service is point one. I hate the USPS, I much prefer UPS or FedEx.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

One of the other things that I strongly believe the government should stay out of is marriage.

Yeah, you heard me right. I’m all for equality, but equality would be much easier to gain if we could stop bickering over what the definition of the word “marriage” is. At this point we just all sound like Clinton asking what the definition of “is” is during his trial.

100 years from now, our descendants will look back at this period of history and laugh and laugh and laugh and ask “Did they really need to get this worked up over a word?”

If the church believes the term ‘marriage’ is theirs…then give it to them. Strike it from usage as a legally binding contract. Civil Unions that guarantee all the same rights as the current legal definition of marriage can be used instead.

Here’s a short list of some of the current benefits of marriage. (borrowed from religioustolerance.org)

bullet joint parenting;
bullet joint adoption;
bullet joint foster care, custody, and visitation (including non-biological parents);
bullet status as next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions where one partner is too ill to be competent;
bullet joint insurance policies for home, auto and health;
bullet dissolution and divorce protections such as community property and child support;
bullet immigration and residency for partners from other countries;
bullet inheritance automatically in the absence of a will;
bullet joint leases with automatic renewal rights in the event one partner dies or leaves the house or apartment;
bullet inheritance of jointly-owned real and personal property through the right of survivorship (which avoids the time and expense and taxes in probate);
bullet benefits such as annuities, pension plans, Social Security, and Medicare;
bullet spousal exemptions to property tax increases upon the death of one partner who is a co-owner of the home;
bullet veterans’ discounts on medical care, education, and home loans; joint filing of tax returns;
bullet joint filing of customs claims when traveling;
bullet wrongful death benefits for a surviving partner and children;
bullet bereavement or sick leave to care for a partner or child;
bullet decision-making power with respect to whether a deceased partner will be cremated or not and where to bury him or her;
bullet crime victims’ recovery benefits;
bullet loss of consortium tort benefits;
bullet domestic violence protection orders;
bullet judicial protections and evidentiary immunity;
bullet and more….

The complaint is that current civil unions or domestic partnerships (whatever you want to call them) do not guarantee these same benefits. That’s simple! The government needs to devise a system of domestic partnerships that do guarantee these benefits. They will be totally government based and no one from the Religious Right will have a leg to stand on when they say they are “redefining marriage” and destroying the very moral fabric of our society. I’m sure they will still protest and get mad, but they will just look ridiculous, because, c’mon guys, we made marriage a purely religious institution. No one is “redefining” anything. You got what you wanted, we got what we wanted. Chill.

Then again…they won’t really have got what they wanted, because once marriage reverts to being a purely religious institution the Religious Right will realize that there are an awful lot of religions (and certain denominations of the Christian church) who are completely okay with same-sex marriage as well as domestic partnerships and any gay couple that just really really wants that term marriage attached to their legal commitment will be able to find a church/synagogue/temple/wiccan order/etc. that will marry them.

Sometimes the best way to rip the carpet right out from under your enemy is to change your demands. Make this a legal fight, not a personal one. That’s how you’ll get the equality you want.

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