Civil Unions: Separate Drinking Fountains

There’s no denying that we’ve made considerable progress in allowing same-sex unions in some parts of the U.S. But even allowing same-sex couples identical rights, benefits and responsibilities of married heterosexuals, while refusing to call their unions/contracts “marriage”, has never sat right with me.

In an interview with John McCain, Ellen DeGeneres explains in a very touching way what it says to her and how it makes her feel:

I literally choked up when Ellen talked about being able to sit there, just not there.

You can sit on the bus, just not in the front. You can drink from the fountain, just not from that fountain.

Mike and I talked about how we might feel if we were told that we could have all the benefits of marriage, but that our union wasn’t quite good enough to be called a marriage. I think it would feel demeaning and, as Ellen said, isolating. I think it would feel like we were being devalued as individuals and as a family. Sure, we could live in society with the rest of you, we just couldn’t be part of it. Not completely.

I can’t think of a justification for this apart from religious beliefs. You know, the whole Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve bumper sticker mentality. It’s not as if there’s a finite number of marriages to go around. Letting gay people be married and call it that doesn’t affect anyone else’s marriage in any way. It doesn’t affect anyone else at all, with the obvious exception of pissing certain people off. And if that’s the only requirement for legislating something, there are a lot more things that need to be legislated out of existence. Where do I send my list?

Without falling back on religious doctrine or Bible verses, can someone give me a legitimate reason for allowing gays the same rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage and then denying them the title?

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On

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16 responses to “Civil Unions: Separate Drinking Fountains

  • saintpaulgrrl

    No, I can’t give you any legitimate reasons at all for allowing gays the same rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage and then denying them the title. None whatsoever with the exception that there are religious reasons for some people to hold tight to this distinction and/or it just pisses them off. You summed it up perfectly.

  • Mike

    Interesting combination over here – while the Civil Partnership Act is very carefully worded to avoid mention of the word “marriage”, people immediately started referring to civil partnerships as marriage, saying that gay people were getting married and so on.

  • truthwalker

    I read this before I went to work today, and I’ve been sort of pondering it all day. I think you are wrong and right.

    Going with the example of drinking fountain: It’s not like the old “this fountain is for whites and that one is for blacks.” It’s more like everyone can drink from the same fountain, but they have to call it different names. Which still sucks, but does suck less.

    Marriage has different meanings to different people. Yes, technically it means a legal contract, etc. etc. But to most people marriage is an image, an icon even. That icon is pro-creative. This is why older married people are called “an old couple” or a “retired couple” and new couples are called “Newlyweds” or “young couples”. This is to differentiate them from people with kids. Though it is not spoken, the cultural value is real married people have kids. This is also why there is a degree of animosity towards DINK (Dual Income; No Kids) couples. It is against this icon that “civil union” is hitting.

    Homosexuality is aberrant. That’s not to say it is bad or wrong, but statistically, when only 2%-7% of the population is interested in certain behavior, it’s aberrant. (By that definition, bicycling to work is aberrant. I guess I’m a deviant.) And they will never be biologically procreative. They can adopt, or use artificial means, but they are not, by nature, procreative unions. That’s aberrant, and thus seen to be worthy of a unique nomenclature.

    Further, I think that a person should be able to title their union whatever they wish. However, if semantics are important to the homosexual community, it’s perfectly fair that it be important to the straight community too.

    A far, far, simpler problem then regulating the legal definition of words (the current government/political approach) WOULD BE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO GET IT’S COLLECTIVE NOSE OUT OF PEOPLE’S SHEETS TO BEGIN WITH.

    I personally think that civil union should be the law. For everybody. Any two people, male, female, straight, gay, or sexually inactive, should be able to enter a legal relationship with the consenting person of their choosing where one person is the primary bread winner and the other does more non-monetary work.

    Sex of any kind never even should have been a consideration for anybody. Our concept of union (which is legal and thus objective) got all confused with our concept of marriage (which is personal/spiritual and thus subjective) when the catholic church WAS the government. A “you really ought too” got substituted for a “YOU WILL”.

  • Lottie

    A few quick points:

    The point about the fountains is that it’s divisive. It sends the message that we’re not all part of the same society.

    If it’s about procreation, then Mike and I shouldn’t be “married” since I can’t make babies anymore. Old people can’t be “married” either. Lots of other people fall under that heading, but I’m short on time.

    Further, I think that a person should be able to title their union whatever they wish. However, if semantics are important to the homosexual community, it’s perfectly fair that it be important to the straight community too.

    The difference, as I see it, is that heterosexuals (specifically right-wing fundamentalists) want to use semantics to divide and devalue what they disagree with, while the homosexual community is only asking to be valued the same as everyone else.

    Our concept of union (which is legal and thus objective) got all confused with our concept of marriage (which is personal/spiritual and thus subjective) when the catholic church WAS the government. A “you really ought too” got substituted for a “YOU WILL”.

    Which brings us right back to my closing question: apart from religion… why?

    P.S. I don’t mean to sound rude or abrupt, I’m just in a huge rush.

  • saintpaulgrrl

    As I read through your post this evening about John and his teacher, I realized (not for the first time, mind you!) that I am a completely inexperienced source of any advice about childrearing. You see, I’m one of these women who has never borne a child or parented one by other means, in spite of having been married to a man for 35 years now. Neither my husband nor I has ever defined our marriage in light of whether or not it includes children. I find that a rather odd thought.

  • Lottie

    I don’t know, Bonnie. I’ve received some pretty good parenting advice from people without children. I think it’s possibly because they’re less biased, if you will. They’re able to view certain things more objectively than other parents might, if you see what I mean. Obviously, that’s not always the case, though.

    Honestly, I’d trust your advice over that of some parents I know, any day of the week.

    But point taken on not defining marriage by the ability or even desire to have children.

  • Mike

    I have to agree with Lottie on all counts. We’re a single political viewpoint family 😛

    I personally think that civil union should be the law. For everybody. Any two people, male, female, straight, gay, or sexually inactive, should be able to enter a legal relationship with the consenting person of their choosing where one person is the primary bread winner and the other does more non-monetary work.

    Why? Why can’t they both be workers? Why only two people? I have my own argument against plural versus dual marriage, but I’d be interested in seeing what you think of it.

  • saintpaulgrrl

    The comment you quoted from Truthwalker, Mike, struck me as an interesting way to describe “a legal relationship where one person is the primary breadwinner and the other does more non-monetary work.” That certainly is only one model of a relationship that exists in society. With today’s economic situation, I don’t think that most middle class families in the U.S. can afford to have one partner unemployed in the work force or employed on a casual basis. Two-income families are becoming the norm rather than the exception.

  • Mike

    It’s interesting as well, really, that the “traditional” family in that mould so strenuously hyped by cultural conservatives was only ever the norm for a very small number of families across a very small amount of time.

    I think that most of the time two-income families have been the norm rather than the exception.

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  • efilyzarcym

    People don’t go to the church to get divorced….they go to court. (Even if someone were to try to argue being annuled by the catholic church….they would STILL need to get it done in a legal/judiciary manner, ie. court.)
    Same should apply with “marriage” and they ALL should be called Civil Unions.
    In other countries, you are united civily (is that spelled right?), in front of a member of the judicial branch of the government. Then, if you want to be united religiously, you may do so with the permission of a church – – in a SEPERATE ceremony.
    I think the same should apply in this country.

    Oh, and truthwalker, I just needed to make some points:
    1) You said: “It’s more like everyone can drink from the same fountain, but they have to call it different names.” Actually, I wish it were that simple. “Civil Unions” as set for gay couples does not hold the same legal weight as it does for heterosexual couples – – which means different water fountains/bus seats.
    2) You said: “Marriage has different meanings to different people.” Yes, and it shouldn’t. It should have ONE LEGAL meaning – – and the name should change.
    I couldn’t even wrap my brain around some of your other arguments….are you serious with your parental and breadwinner comments. Dude?

  • truthwalker

    Curse my lack of lucidity! No I didn’t mean a good 80% of that. Lottie asked for some different perspectives so I did my best to come up with most reasonable arguments I could baseed off of a false premise: that gay’s shouldn’t get married.

    My personal belief is that any two consenting adults should be able to enter any contract they wish.

  • truthwalker

    OH, and when I said the whole “primary bread winner” thing, I meant very personally. If the government was out of the marriage business that is the style of legal arrangement my wife and I would choose, because its how we like it. It doesn’t seem to work for most people we know, it just works well for us.

  • Lottie

    I figured as much since I’m somewhat familiar with you, but I thought I’d better let you speak for yourself.

  • Heidi

    Wow, I am feeling a bit embarassed at this point….LOL!! I should have started at Lottie’s first post and read in chronological order (instead of the other way around), as I may have gotten to know you (truthwalker) and not acted just on what I saw in print. Dang. Pardon my ignorance.
    BUT, for those who DO actually believe that way, I will stick by my answers. 🙂
    Oh, and as a side note about the breadwinning comment….it works for my family, too; however, it is not something that works for most people and I sure wouldn’t want that being mandatory for all “marriages.”

  • Lottie

    Don’t feel bad, Heidi! It’s an easy mistake to make because there are so many people who actually do feel that way. It’s always good to see people speak out against that kind of thing.

    Look at it this way: Even though you said it due to a misunderstanding, what you said is on record and that’s a good thing!

    . 😀

    Thanks for checking out my blog and for all your feedback and support. I really appreciate it.

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