Sunday, February 22, 2009

SSM Ceasefire in Times

A Rodney King-style can-we-get-along-moment happens on today's NYTimes op-ed, A reconciliation on gay marriage. The pair issues a sweetly grandiose and optimistic claim that their proposal "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."

They use the ploy of natural enemies together — David Blankenhorn (president of the Institute for American Values) Jonathan Rauch (guest scholar at the Brookings Institution). The former wrote and the "The Future of Marriage" and the latter "Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights and Good for America."

The nub of their cudgel of compromise is:
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.
Neither author is a hardliner. Even Blankenhorn is one of those few spouting calls to strengthening marriage who means it. He doesn't necessarily figure that means hampering and harming homosexuals. He's a big-picture guy.

The proposal may cause quizzical looks from marriage-equality champions. The good guys basically would give up nothing other than keeping a civil tone. Despite the extreme emotional alarms and outright lies from anti-SSM folk, religious freedom — even to overt discrimination — are well protected by both federal and state laws, amendments and regulations.

In Vermont's nine years of civil unions and Massachusetts' five years of SSM, the rolling-eyed panic over religious persecution from equality is so much dry-ice mist. The closest we've come is religious business components that want it both ways. Here, Catholic Charities wanted to keep the federal grants rolling into their adoption facilities, but didn't want to obey the rules about not discriminating. Too bad for them. Yet, any part of their church or its businesses that does not receive government gifts can do their nasty stuff.

Local clerics in several states fairly wrinkled their robes crying they were forced to stop all adoption. Horse feathers!

I can't see any GLBT or equality organization or activist objecting to spelling out religious exemptions in the most specific term. I think those will be almost entirely unnecessary. Yet, emotionally, if it would help the anti-SSM side feel they had gotten something — So there! — no harm.

The op-ed is short. It's worth reading.

The authors clearly would like to send the phalanxes on both sides of their battlefield home for a rest, apparently figuring that the remaining consensus will come later rather than sooner and without the posturing as well as with it.

I can't see those who would repeatedly lie about SSM and SS couples and SS adoption playing the get-along game. Yet, they may in the mid-term have no choice. In the breathing spaces with financial rescue and war extraction, our new President will eventually spend more time on domestic issues, including this one. He could well favor such a proposal. It is tepid and painless to equality advocates and not very painful to others.

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Anonymous said...

Not exactly related to your post here, but I thought you might find this "article" of interest...

laurel said...

I'd agree to it if it applied to married heterosexuals too, and their marriage was only valid in the states that recognize ssm or civil unions. deal? thought not.

i see absolutely no reason to create a whole new relationship system when all we need to achieve the same ends is repeal DOMA.

Anonymous said...

Separate is not equal. Why should we accept a second class style of marriage "lite"? The fundies get to discriminate, and they don't have to extend equality to LGBT's who wish to marry. What the hell would we get out of this so-called "compromise"?