Many argue that California should be able to offer marriage to straight couples and limit gay couples to civil unions. After all, “it’s only a label.” Or maybe, it’s a label that California shouldn’t be able to redefine.
Imagine with me the following two scenarios:
- California allows left-handed people to swim and wade in water, lefties can swim wearing robes, and lefties can dunk each other under the water while wearing robes and while saying whatever they want, but California has a law that prohibited lefties from getting “baptized.”
- Or maybe, California allows lefties to drink wine from little plastic cups and eat small, unleavened pieces of bread, while reading from any book and saying whatever they want, but California prohibits lefties from participating in “holy communion.”
What would be the harm? After all, “baptism” and “communion” are just labels. Shouldn’t lefties just be happy they can participate fully in the same behavior as right-handed people and leave it at that?
I expect you’d agree that both of these scenarios describe what would be unlawful discrimination, that there would be no good policy reason for California to allow the behavior but prohibit the label. You might even wonder why the state was intruding into religious matters. And you would understand why lefties would fight for the right to have their behaviors labeled “baptism” and “communion.”
I don’t think these scenarios are that different from the situation in California regarding gay marriage. California allows gays to live together, express their love physically without fear of criminal prosecution, adopt and use assistive reproductive procedures, and form long-term relationships that the state will recognize and assist in their dissolution. Gays just can’t get “married.”
In other words, gays can act like they’re married; they just can’t call it marriage.
I think California has a couple of options:
- Offer marriage to adult couples in a non-discriminatory manner, or
- Offer marriage to no adult couples because it’s a religious matter, but instead, offer only civil unions to all adult couples in a non-discriminatory manner. Those couples that wanted to be married could find a church to perform a wedding ceremony. I have no doubt that some churches would offer to marry gay couples, as should be the churches’ right.
What do you think?