Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Created Union

The gay marriage debate is stuck and has descended into a political war. I’ve not been attracted to this debate nor the idea of a civil union. A civil union brings up for me a lot of negativity – mainly that the union is nothing more than two people going to a dusty office in a court house and getting a legal document which creates two people into a legal unit. All the romance is reduced to that very unromantic legality. I suspect that the fight may at some level be about the lack of romantic parity that the two terms, marriage and civil union, conjure.

Thus it is easy to relegate the civil union to something of lesser value. And this is a problem. Even though two gays love each other deeply and want to spend the rest of their lives together, the idea of a civil union does not feel like that. It feels unimportant, like a distorted step-child next to marriage, the rich value-laden, full-of-life real thing.

Let’s get clear about one thing. Two adults as free individuals have the right to create a contract to live together and be seen and legally dealt with as a unit in a particular context. That is inherent in individual rights, the thing that the government is designed to protect. Neither one has a right to create such a contract unilaterally. Thus one person doesn’t have the right to create a slave of the other in any form. Therefore each has the right to legally nullify the union if it has evolved into a stuck state whereby the value of being in the union has gone out of it.

A marriage, traditionally conceived, is a union of two people which contains within it the possibility of creating a child. It holds a biological aspect different than two people of the same sex joined in a union. For this it needs to be acknowledged.

But at the same time, it is not just about that. History shows us marriages that are unable to fulfill their biological possibility or are really for other reasons. Perhaps the two people of the opposite sex are unable to conceive a child. Their marriage will be barren, as the term is used, unless they create a child in some extra-marital way. (By extra-marital I mean a means outside of one man, one woman having sex, conceiving a child that is carried to term and is born an individual human being all inside the marriage.) Their marriage, although it looks like a regular marriage, does not hold the possibility of a biological union.

Then there are marriages for financial purposes and professional purposes. For example, I think it would have been much smarter when Bill Clinton got himself into trouble over sex and Hillary played the hurt wife, had they told us that theirs is a “power marriage.” They were not in a union primarily for the purpose of having a child, even though they did.

Gays, even though decried by many, have long been a possibility for people. They do not see life in terms of the same categories that straight people do. Because of this, they have made many contributions in art and all other fields because they are able to open the human culture to other possibilities – other ways of seeing things. This is a good thing because even if a person does not ultimately choose to see the world through the opening that was created by them, they now can know more precisely what they do choose in a wider context and therefore a fuller meaning of their choice. Knowledge and the culture advances because of gays contribution.

I would like to offer a new name for all of these unions that are not grounded in biology: The Created Union.

This name offers all kinds of possibilities and all kinds of romance. It offers creating unions, both biological and non-biological, based on values. The first question that arises is “Why are you creating THIS union?” And that is something the two people of every union should know.

This reformulation would then place gays back in their valuable role of breaking down old ways of thinking and seeing the world in wider, more conscious and potentially more meaningful terms. Instead of relegating gays to the epistemological trash heap of the confused as to how sex really works or the moral trash heap of inverted values, they actually have here a possibility of offering the world something of value – a new way of looking at lifelong unions that can be a source of positive purpose producing growth and happiness.

I can see all people wanting a Created Union. It’s a possibility that is that attractive.

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