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Friday, October 27, 2006

 

The Syntax of Love

As usual, I have to leave it to a heterosexual to say exactly what I'm thinking about gay rights...in this case, Jill's caustically brilliant take at Brilliant at Breakfast on the civil union decision in New Jersey yesterday:
It's easy for people like me, who can just go down to city hall with a birth certificate and get a piece of paper that says "Certificate of Marriage", to say "One step at a time, people just have to get used to it; the more they see that gay marriage doesn't make the world come to an end, the less opposition there will be." But what's to get used to? If we don't want the Bible-thumpers pushing their religion down our throats in any other area, why on earth should we let them do it when it comes to denying the full rights and recognition to some Americans that we do to others?
While many may argue that 'civil unions' and 'gay marriage' are in essence the same thing, it begs the question...if they are the same, then why are heterosexual lawmakers so afraid of using the word 'marriage' for gay relationships? The truth is, they are NOT the same...in the eyes of public opinion, one still counts more than the other. One is still sinful and the other is not.

The court mandating that the New Jersey legislature give the idea some thought, but in the New York Times today, it's clear that the (Democratic) lawmakers have no intention of thinking very much at all:
In a joint statement, Richard J. Codey, the Senate president, and Joseph J. Roberts Jr., the Assembly speaker, indicated that Democrats would not go the extra step of defining the new legal partnership as a marriage. Another top Democrat, Senator Raymond J. Lesniak of Union County, echoed that point. He said that he and other members of the party’s caucus had discussed a compromise, which would extend the marriage rights to gay couples but classify their relationships as “civil unions.”

“Marriage has been a religious institution adopted by the government and a lot of religions have defined it in a way that that excludes gays,” Mr. Lesniak said. “That’s not what the government does, and the court clearly demands that we offer gay couples the same rights and obligations that heterosexual couples have under our marriage laws. But we can do it in a way that respects people’s religious beliefs.”

Why are we "respecting people's religious beliefs" when those beliefs are based in bigotry and hatred? Why do even straight Democrats think this half-assed, reluctant recognition is enough? Why are we coddling heterosexual paranoia instead of using this as a moment of instruction, to educate and focus on the American ideals of equality, liberty and justice for all?

I know to many this may seem like sour grapes...I mean, yes, we are getting the same rights in New Jersey as straight couples. But that's like saying that blacks in the 1950's got the same water as white people, just at a different water fountain. Separate is never equal...not in life, and not in language.

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