Separating Marriage And Stateby Doug Mataconis
A Democratic State Senator in Maryland has come up with an idea that actually makes sense:
Advocates for same-sex marriage plan to introduce legislation in the Maryland General Assembly today that would abolish civil marriage ceremonies now confined to heterosexual unions in the state and replace them with domestic partnerships for all couples.
The bills represent an unusual new tactic in the effort to push legal rights for gay couples through the House and Senate during the legislature’s 90-day session. Sponsors of the measure say they are attempting to address head-on the concerns of lawmakers who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.
Under their proposal, all couples — straight or gay — would be on equal footing with secular unions. Religious marriage in churches, synagogues and mosques would be unaffected, as would existing civil marriages.
The word “marriage” would be replaced with “valid domestic partnership” in the state’s family law code.
“If people want to maintain a religious test for marriage, let’s turn it into a religious institution,” said Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), the bill’s Senate sponsor.
“What they’re talking about is an even more radical departure from traditional marriage than even advocates for gay marriage are talking about,” said Del. Christopher B. Shank (R-Washington), the minority whip. “They’re creating a situation for one special interest group that basically diminishes the value of marriage for everyone else.”
Shank and other opponents say that same-sex unions defy religious convictions that marriage is between a man and a woman.
And nobody is saying that your church has to approve or consecrate same-sex unions. Heck, you could have a religion that said people with different hair colors if you wanted to, just don’t make it the business of the state to codify your religious prejudices.
Unfortunately, I doubt that this proposal will go anywhere, even in Maryland, but it’s refreshing to see that some people recognize that the only way to really solve the gay marriage debate is to get the government out of them marriage business completely.