This letter is to clarify some of the issues surrounding the concept of gay marriage in hopes that people on both sides of the issue can find some middle ground (“Seeing both sides,” Letters to the Editor, Aug. 8).
I recently had a heated discussion with a gay rights activist, who insisted that a civil union is not as good as a gay marriage. “Separate cannot be equal,” he shouted.
I replied by asking him to think of the number 7.
5 + 2 = 7, right? (Yes, he said.)
And 6 + 1 = 7, right? (Yes, he said.)
And 3 + 4 = 7, right? (Yes, he said.)
Well, 6 is different from 3, and 4 is different from 1.
And 6+1=7, and 3+4=7.
This shows that things can indeed be separate and equal.
I have turned to mathematics to bring some objective logic into the picture.
From what I can see, the core issue here is “equal rights” which are also referred to as “human rights.”
Yes people have the right to choose whom they will love. Yes adults have the right to enter into a union that is recognized by the government. This union, normally called marriage, brings with it various tax benefits and legal rights.
The core of the issue is to extend those rights to gay couples and lesbian couples. Very few people are arguing about the “rights” (tax benefits, etc.). Some people seem to be very emotionally attached to the word marriage. And it can be confusing. The union itself of two adults is called a marriage. Then there is a marriage ceremony, which often takes place at a house of worship (church, synagogue) and may include a long, white dress, a walk down the aisle and the exchange of wedding rings.
Many straight couples have been married at a justice of the peace without a traditional marriage ceremony. Technically, we could say that they have civil unions, since a judge and not a religious leader married them. If the issue is to extend the rights and benefits of marriage to gay couples and lesbian couples, then please let’s focus on calling it a civil union. A civil union can be structured to legally provide the exact same benefits and rights as a marriage. Yes a civil union can be separate and equal to marriage in a legal sense.
If the issue is that gay couples and lesbian couples want the right to have a marriage ceremony in a house of worship, well that complicates things. Then it becomes a freedom of religion issue, which is why so many churches are fighting the concept of gay marriage. There are many places of worship where gays and lesbians are welcome. But the fact is, some religious leaders oppose homosexuality. They are not correct or incorrect, they are allowed to believe what they want.
Here is an example. I am vegetarian. Some people who eat meat will tell me to my face that I am “a stupid tree-hugger.” They are allowed to believe that, and I am allowed to disagree with them. They even have the freedom of speech to say what they think as long as they do not threaten me.
I would like to make a few things clear. In no way do I support hate crimes. I am a straight female who has never been married. My goal in writing this letter is to get to the core of the matter — equal rights for gay couples and lesbian couples.
Please, let’s call it a civil union and not gay marriage.
If you want to have a marriage ceremony that’s fine. Call the ceremony a wedding if you like.
We can pass laws to ensure “separate but equal” rights for gay couples and lesbian couples once we take the hot-button word of marriage out of the picture.