same sex marriages
aebrownstein at UCDAVIS.EDU
Tue Oct 19 15:16:40 PDT 1999
>On the other hand, traditionalists can never accept a "partnership" law that
>treats homosexual sex partners as though they were married. Mike says there
>is an ambiguity here that traditionalists should embrace, because the law
>does not use the word "marriage" when it creates homosexual partnerships.
>But this is form over substance. The law provides homosexual partners (but
>not other unmarried partners such as brother-sister, mother-daughter, etc)
>with the same spousal benefits that married couples receive. This is clearly
>a public declaration that homosexual relationships are preferred
>relationships, deserving of the same benefits married couples receive and of
>more benefits than other committed relationships receive.
Rick is right that he is on shaky ground when he disagrees with Mike
McConnell in the above note. Providing gay partnerships different and in
some ways "more" benefits than other relationships receive doesn't
necessarily communicate a message of endorsement of these relationships.
There are grounds for treating gay partnerships differently than
brother-sister or mother-daughter relationships that do not communicate a
moral endorsement of these relationships.
First, gay partnerships may reflect a different level of commitment than
sibling relationships and the like. These familial relationships commonly
reflect the recognition that other existing or new relationships will have
priority over the current relationship. They are not "till death do us
part" relationships. Mother and daughter or brother and sister can live
together with the understanding that one or the other may fall in love,
marry, and form a new relationship and a new household without anyone
breaching a commitment to the other. Marriage and gay partnerships to the
extent that they parallel each other suggest a different level of
commitment. Can't the state distinguish between life long commitments that
take precedence over other relationships and other important but less
encompassing relationships without endorsing the specific nature of the
long term formal commitments?
Second, gay partnerships, like marriage, formally recognize and support
sexual monogamy. That is a positive social good that is not furthered by
state support for brother -sister relationships. For those people who think
monogamy is socially preferable to promiscuity (I do) and who think formal
state social structures, like marriage or gay partnerships, help to promote
monogamous sexual relationships (I do), there is an independent basis for
recognizing gay partnerships that does not apply to other familial
relationships or Rick's priest-housekeeper example.
I make these arguments only to suggest that there may be a middle ground
of the kind Michael suggests.
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