Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Little Upside Down

I can't tell which is stranger: the fact that Colorado Springs-based far-right religious conservative organization Focus on Family is advocating the extension of many benefits currently available to married couples to gay couples as well, or the fact that I'm actually offering (limited) support of something coming from James Dobson and Co. The proposed bill avoids supporting gay marriage or civil unions in favor of creating a new category: recipriocal beneficiaries:

[This] bill would allow any two people who are close but cannot legally marry -- a lesbian couple, two elderly brothers, an aunt and her niece -- to register with their county clerk as reciprocal beneficiaries.That would give them access to some of the same rights as married couples with respect to medical decision-making, inheritance and property ownership. Mitchell said he might add other economic rights.

Obviously, FoF is taking this position in an attempt to hedge against moves towards full recognition of gay partnerships, which some may see as pretty sneaky, but this really seems like fairly sensible (and compassionate) legislation. To be sure, it avoids the tricky moral side of the gay marriage debate and focuses on the civil aspects of the relationships we have with other people. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Personally, I see separating these two sides of marriage as a acceptable (and potentially desireable) compromise. I'd like to get all the legal benefits of marriage, but I see no reason why I need to state to sanction my relationship with another human being. It seems that many gay people feel differently, however (hence the push for same-sex marriage), and I have a hard time criticizing them for that. While it's easy for me to be ambivilent about marriage, because the option is always open to me, perhaps I'd feel differently if it was a right I was being denied. So in the end, I still strongly support gay marriage as a basic human right, but I appreciate this move by FoF to create a soft-line postion and find some middle ground. Perhaps this will be an acceptable compromise for many people right now, until the inevtiable happens and we allow gay couples all the same rights as straight ones.



At 9:21 AM, Blogger Speedy said...

Interesting post. My family used to listen to James Dobson's radio broadcast everyweek and we used to get the Focus on the Family magazine. I really like this proposal. As you said - it's a good middle ground for the now, until further change happens.


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