March 20, 2013 by Anders Ingemarson
SEPARATE! is a blog about relationships in a fashion. More precisely, it’s about our relationship to the government. Normally I don’t cover domestic relationships. That’s for Dr. Laura, Dear Abby, Dr. Phil and the like.
However, the past week’s news has inspired somewhat of an exception to the rule. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio, has done what in certain circles appears to be tantamount to coming out of the closet. No, he has not admitted to being gay, but he has changed his position on same sex marriage from against to pro, which to some appears to carry a stigma of similar caliber.
As a non-religious person I have a hard time getting worked up about who people fall in love and want to spend their life with, and what they want to call their relationship. But for many Americans of faith it’s a deeply troubling issue. Marriage, they say, is instituted by God as a holy union between a man and a woman. Consequently, same sex couples need not apply.
Since it’s a matter of faith, separation is the answer. Not so much separation of state and the economy as separation of state and church.
One of the three proper functions of government is the courts, which protects your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, and settles disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. This applies to contractual relationships between businesses, between businesses and consumers, and yes, between individuals in a domestic relationship.
I suspect civil law in most states already contains all the necessary vehicles for contractually defining a domestic relationship regardless of the sex of the involved parties. You family lawyers out there can probably provide the details. How about simply replacing the word “marriage” and its referents with “domestic relationship between two or more consenting adults” or something of that nature? (the “or more” is for the overachievers who supposedly manage to find happiness in a domestic arrangement with more than one consenting partner). If you’re a freedom loving, individual rights respecting person of faith with appreciation for the separation of state and church that our constitution provides, this ought to take care of your concerns.
I know, “domestic partnership” sounds kind of boring. “Love and domestic partnership go together like a horse and carriage” is not very catchy. “Domestic partnershippal bliss” won’t evoke the same emotions as “marital bliss”. And “I’m happily domestic partnershipped” doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue like “I’m happily married”.
But in terms of the contractual language of the law, boring is just fine. You and your loved one go before the judge to get your partnership officially acknowledged and recorded. Everything else is optional. It’s up to you how to signify and celebrate your decision to be together until death do you part. A church, synagogue or mosque wedding in accordance with your faith? A non-religious celebration with friends and family? A candlelight dinner, just the two of you? You decide. It’s your life. Call yourself married if you like, or invent your own term for your union. But do me a favor and stay away from “unionized”; it has a bad connotation.