The title for this post comes from an article from Will Saleton, who discusses "two truths that the left and the right don’t want to hear: that morality has to be practical, and that practicality requires morals."
But the piece I want you to read particularly was written by gay-marriage activist Jonathan Rauch and opponent David Blankenhorn and entitled A Reconciliation on Gay Marriage.
In this piece, the authors suggest
a deal that could give each side what it most needs in the short run, while moving the debate onto a healthier, calmer track in the years ahead.
It would work like this: Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill.
They go on to suggest that churches and faith-based groups would get, along with their tax exemption, the right NOT to provide same-sex spousal benefits or any other formal recognition of gay marriages, the right not to allow gay marriages on their property, etc.
Yes, most gays are opposed to the idea that religious organizations could openly treat same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples differently, without fear of being penalized by the government. But we believe that gays can live with such exemptions without much difficulty. Why? Because most state laws that protect gays from discrimination already include some religious exemptions, and those provisions are for the most part uncontroversial, even among gays.Yes, I am very uncomfortable with giving basic civil rights a religious exemption. And, what happens to gay people who live in viciously anti-gay states? Even DP benefits have been outlawed in Michigan for example. Do they have no access to this? (That would become an equal protection issue, I would think). What happens to gay couples married in one state who move to another state that outlaws gay partnerships?
And while most Americans who favor keeping marriage as it has customarily been would prefer no legal recognition of same-sex unions at either the federal or the state level, we believe that they can live with federal civil unions — provided that no religious groups are forced to accept them as marriages. Many of these people may come to see civil unions as a compassionate compromise.
BUT, if the idea is to find a compromise, a starting place, and if it can bring together such disparate views as the authors', I think it has merit, at least for discussion.
Because I would rather have a federal civil union than what I have now, which is, federally speaking, absolutely nothing.