It/s nice to have a controversial issue about which I really don’t care. However, if no other nerd is going to do it, then perhaps it falls on me to defend the indefensible, since I started the thread. I don’t expect to win this argument because it is a very emotional one and highly political. Neither reason or fairness will be the deciding factor.
The term “marriage” with its current meaning has been around in western civilization for thousands of years, and perhaps even longer in other cultures. During that time countless millions of people have both enjoyed and suffered from the good and bad things that this formal relationship bestows on couples. Religions have appropriated it, and laws have bestowed obligations and responsibilities. Most children have benefited greatly from it. The term has gradually acquired a complex nuanced meaning that is respected by most, although reviled by some. In recent times it has been devalued into a convenient lable that can be easily removed when it is expedient to do so.
Straght people take on all this baggage when they marry, but they do it because they want the feeling of being married and the status that brings in their society.
The question for this poll is whether gays should be allowed to adopt this name for their unions. By doing so they would obtain a fast track towards having their relationships covered by the same historical baggage and respectability that is awarded by this term “marriage”. Over time, their trials, tribulations, and joys and sorrows experienced in this institution will add to the rich meaning of the word.
It would be interesting to see whether religions attempt to appropriate the new word by endorsing it under strict conditions. I don’t think they could resist it, once the negative connotations of sexual practices have faded away and gay preferences are generally regarded as being quite normal.
I am sure that the gay contribution will change the meaning of the word for all of us, and so will to some small extent change our culture. I am not as sure whether this change will be for the better. I don’t really care, but then I am no longer married. Perhaps I would care if I were.
The issue for the majority is whether they want to embrace this change to our culture at the present time. I think it would be much more interesting if gays developed a special meaning for a unique word used to describe their unions. Hopefully, this word would would in time become endowed with admirable qualities such as faithfulness, mutual caring, social responsibility, and even good (adoptive) parenthood. Then our culture would be richer for having two words with different meaning and associations rather than one merged and blurred word having confused meaning.
Of course this profound meaning would take generations to develop, and would not affect the contemporary gay population very much. So, it is expedient for them to demand coverage by the old word. I can see no moral reason to agree to this, other than that it would make some Gays very happy. Is that enough?
I think that English is such a dynamic and adaptable language, that a new name for gay unions will inevitably emerge, and will probably quickly become the most widely used term. If that is the case, then “marriage” covering gay unions will be only a transient thing and we will have been concerned about it for no good reason. I think Gays would be better employed now by taking control of the emerging new word than being stuck with one that could well be derogatory.
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