Civil union in a civil society

By Andrew L. Urban

Same sex ‘marriage’ is a hot issue around the Western world, with uncivil arguments and nasty remarks keeping it hot – but not too enlightened. By contrast, writing in the Weekend Australian (May 25/26, 2013) Peter van Onselen argues that the cause of all the friction between those for and those against gay marriage boils down to the overhang of the religious manifestation. Churches and their members are adamantly anti.

But van Onselen suggests an articulate and elegant solution: take religion out of it. I’ll let him say it in his own words:

“The biggest reason religious opponents of gay marriage are so offended by the concept is that they see marriage as a religious, not a secular, construct, citing the notion that the concept of marriage started out as a religious display of love and commitment before God. Initially the state didn’t have a role to play.

“So they see it as a form of blasphemy to allow homosexuals in on that right when parts of the Bible suggest acting on homosexual instincts is a sin. Of course other parts of the Bible also suggest a woman should not be allowed out in public while she’s menstruating, but selective citing of biblical principles is nothing new.

“Hence the secular state moving to allow gay marriage, so long as the word marriage is used, will always anger some religious people. But there is another way: an approach to marriage (and civil union) adopted in parts of Europe.

“Change the law so marriage is no longer a legal (and therefore secular) construct, such that all of us, homosexual and heterosexual, have a civil union before the law and can thereafter choose also to get married within a church if the church permits us to do so. The religious form of marriage would have no legally binding status and it could be handed out as individual churches see fit.”

Instead of being divisive, the solution is cohesive and embraces all. Brilliant. Spread the word.

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