Published in the PDN on 2/1/2010
The Pacific Daily News lead editorial on January 25 called for the passage of Bill 185 into law. The editorial contends that same-sex couples deserve the same marital rights and privileges as different-sex couples. In response, I would like to make four points.
First, the government is not in the business of arbitrarily handing out rights and privileges. If privileges are granted, then something is expected. In the case of different-sex married couples, the state expects the marital unit to produce, educate, and socialize the next generation (sterile couples notwithstanding). The state is willing to grant certain protections and incentives to the marital unit because the state understands that should the marital unit fail, the burden of of producing, socializing, and educating that next generation would fall to the state.
In fact, producing the next generation is what was emphasized in the oft-cited Loving vs. Virginia and its precedent case Skinner vs. Oklahoma. In these cases, the courts acknowledged marriage as a "civil right" but only in connection with "procreation" (Skinner) and the "survival of society" (Loving). The courts said nothing about the right to marry because two people love each other.
Second, civil rights apply to individuals, not to corporate entities - which a marriage is.The fact that married people can see to the affairs of each other is not a matter of civil rights, but a matter of corporate and legal agreement. There is nothing keeping a same-sex couple, or any arrangement of persons, from doing the same. The fact that an alternative entity must employ an alternative form is no more discrimination than the legal distinction between a sole-proprietorship and a corporation.
Third, if marriage, or its legal equivalent, cannot be limited to one man and one woman, then it cannot be limited to one man and one man, or one woman and one woman. The legal definition of marriage mentions nothing about a caring or loving relationship. Bill 185 would have us believe that same-sex couples should have the same legal status as married couples because the two parties commit to a relationship of "mutual caring".
If "mutual caring" is what qualifies a relationship for marital status or its legal equivalent, then there is nothing to prevent three or more people from "mutual caring". To allow the legal status of marriage to same-sex partners and not allow the same status to those desirous of a polygamous or polyandrous arrangement is an exercise in the same discrimination that same-sex couples now decry.
Fourth, regardless of what it is called, Bill 185 will make same-sex unions the legal equivalent of marriage. Once that happens, any refusal to accept the representation of same-sex unions as the equivalent of marriage will be considered discrimination. School curricula will be made to include representations of same-sex parented families. Sex education will need to include descriptions, illustrations, instructions (and hopefully, precautions) on engaging in same-sex sexual acts. Public Health departments will be required to produce media that equally represent same-sex options along with what is normally produced.
Think this is far fetched? Research the states where same-sex unions are already legal. Look up the California state law (SB777) requiring same-sex sensitivity education in public schools beginning in Kindergarten. Look up the "safe sex" literature that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is now publishing. See for yourself what the future holds for Guam should this bill pass into law.
The number one question I heard during this long debate is "How will this affect you?" Well, that's how it will affect us. Are you willing to present your children with both the "skinny" on homosexual sex and heterosexual sex when you get around to the "birds and the bees"? No? If not, don't worry, the schools will do it for you. They will have to.