Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Revisiting with a Twist

As much as I don't really want to restart the gay marriage discussion, there is an interesting 'video blog' on the NY Times. Essentially they are proposing what I said at the beginning, that perhaps we should just forget 'marriage' and call everything a 'civil union', backdating all previous 'marriages' to 'civil unions'. 'Marriage' would be a religious ceremony. 

Of course the basis for the argument and of many arguments now-a-days is the emphasis on equal human rights for all—certainly a good thing. Essentially man-man, woman-woman, man-woman unions would be perceived as the same. Now here is what I find interesting. Is the effort to ensure equal rights for everyone, diminishing the differences between people? In the case of men and women, shouldn't there be some promotion of their differences? Each has strengths (although I can't think of any for man right now) which would appear to be diminished by insisting on total equality. 

Don't get me wrong. I find Ayn Rand completely nonsensical, but I'm just putting this out there for comment. I know this is too abstract also. I'm trying to think of an example, perhaps custody. I would assume (hope) that the woman's strengths would make custody of children in a marriage unequal on the side of women. I'm not sure what the current law is. 


Sean Harvey said...

Civil union just doesn't have a good ring to. When I get down on one knee I don't want to look my future wife in the eye and say, will you enter into this civil union with me? It actually makes me cringe even thinking it. I guess I just have a fondness for the word marriage.

James R Harvey said...

When you get down on one knee and, if your future 'wife' is another man, then you will have to be a member of a rare church before you could say 'marriage'. Seriously, you can still say, "Will you marry me?". The legal document, however, after the layer takes his fee, will read 'Civil Union.'
But this is not the point.

Is homogeneity, rather than recognition of strengths in the sexes (and maybe other groupings), the legal road that must and/or should be traveled?

Peter H of Lebo said...

"Is homogeneity, rather than recognition of strengths in the sexes (and maybe other groupings), the legal road that must and/or should be traveled?" In terms of gay marriage, of course not. There is no loss of diversity by allowing gays to participate in marriage. Let's celebrate the differences between couples by using separate but equal terms? A separate term imposed by the majority on minority. There is no differences (other than the level of social discrimination) between couples that are male-male, female-female, male-female, intersex-male, intersex-female, intersex-intersex. Lets pretend for a moment to celebrate ("recognition of strengths") interracial marriages by having a separate but equal term like Oreo unions (which the majority defines as such) recognized by the state. Interracial unions will not and can not be viewed as marriage by the state. Interracial couples will be discriminated against by the white-only couples who decided how the interracial couples should be define. Civil Unions, Civil Partnership, Domestic Partnerships, marriage definitions were created and are used by the majority not to celebrate the differences between different gender mixed couples but instead used to prevent certain couples a right. The right to call your union a marriage and have the state recognize it. I wouldn't use the word homogeneity to define the gays' pursue of marriage instead, less civil rights restrictions (a good thing, less chance of discrimination by the state). There is no need for "recognition of strength" between different unions because they are all the same and should be viewed as such in the eyes of the state, (if the Mormon Church does not view certain gender unions as such that is their prerogative). By not lessening restriction inequality results, for example gays can not have the state recognize their union as a marriage even though their union shares all the characteristics of a marriage.

James R Harvey said...

Well, that is not what I expected, but I take full blame for not expressing myself better. I included the video only because I thought it was intelligently done, mentioned a number of the issues and (sort of) concluded, as I think we did (and what James alluded to), that using two different terms for marriage allowed people to indulge in the belief that heterosexual marriage was somehow superior.

It was just the jumping off point for another question. This time let me express it more concretely. (Perhaps, it is just not an interesting question.)

Equal rights is really 'equal rights for people.' It is relatively easy to make global rights for all people. It is more difficult to say that a poorer person should pay less tax percentage-wise than a richer one. Or that a poorer, less educated person should receive more assistance in the justice system than a wealthier, more educated one. Or, if you will, that the poorer districts should receive more educational money than the richer ones. (I know I shouldn't have brought up that can of worms.) Or that women should be granted more favorable custody status.

I'm somewhat interested in what the legal community has to say about recognizing the differences between people rather than the general equal rights for all.

Peter H of Lebo said...

Sorry, I misinterpreted what you had written, I thought you were saying that civil rights should shaped by the characteristics or strengths of a particular group. I also thought you were lumping the blatant discrimination of gays by the state with the debate of socio-economic and culture rights. The gay marriage issue is a black and white while socio-economic and culture rights is more debatable. Gay marriage issue pertains to a single group being discriminated against for reasons based in prejudice. Socio-economic and culture rights affects different groups in different ways, some groups are impacted positively while others negatively. Thus the issue is debatable, how far should one go to rid the inequalities found in society while maintaining the freedom of the individual? I think it is a balancing act, which is why it is good having at least two parties pulling at either end of the spectrum helping to balance socio-economic and culture rights.

As for women being granted more favorable custody status is lunacy. While most states attempt joint custody first, the judge should be free to use the evidence available to decide the best possible environment for the child. A judge's hands should not be tied into picking an inept mother just because laws created to favor women. Though the numbers do favor women 5 to 1. Previously there were laws in favor of the mother that are now no longer on the books which is a good thing. Also it an uphill battle for fathers since courts statistical have a bias toward women.