Thursday, November 6, 2008

a legislative solution for California marriage

Now that our California constitution has been amended to include a restrictive definition of marriage the legislature can no longer pass legislation that would offer marriage to same-sex couples (as they had done twice before only to be vetoed by the Governor). But they could address the issue in another way, working within both the new constitutional definition of marriage and the prior constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The legislature could enact a law that says the state of California will henceforth no longer marry anyone. Instead they will offer only civil unions (or Domestic Partnerships, if they prefer) and these will of course be available to any adult couple regardless of sex. If a couple so recognized by the State also wanted to be married they could find a religious institution to bestow that purely ceremonial and religious status on them. And of course the new constitutional definition of marriage being only between a man and a woman would have no bearing on private religious organizations which would as always be free to marry whoever they like.

The Yes on 8 folks consistently argued that they were happy with same-sex couples having all the protections of marriage, just not the word marriage. For my part it was never the word marriage I particularly cared about it was equal treatment before the law. This solution would allow us both to have what we wanted.

It would never pass but purely as a symbolic gesture I'd love to have Sheila Kuehl or Mark Leno introduce the bill.

2 comments: said...

Could the definition of civil unions also include 'marriage'? Make it a broader umbrella term instead of a term of equal meaning?

Christine Robinson said...

I think that is very wise. And while they're at it, California could get out of the very dubious business of letting any old person who says they are ordained do the state's work of signing marriage licenses.

I'm not at all sure it wouldn't pass.