White Paper On Civil Marriage

By Georgina Grant

Have you been confronted by friends, family, colleagues or other individuals seeking your position on the so-called marriage equality, or same-sex marriage problem? This paper offers fantastic speaking points and responses to these queries, and gives you self-confidence when addressing the concern normally. Herein, I supply the following outline with the concern and its myriad ramifications.

* Definitions: What is civil marriage equality?

* Receiving involved

* Civil unions Vs Civil marriage

* Civil marriage & families

* Civil marriage & religion

* The power of cool listening

* Talking Points

* Definitions: What is Civil Marriage Equality?

You may find that when you mention civil marriage equality people won't know what you mean. Whereas, if you say 'gay marriage', or same-sex marriage' they immediately grasp the problem and its meaning, and often, at least if they're already wary or lack understanding, will mentally shut down, or change the topic altogether. When we use the term civil marriage, we're not evading the problem out of a sense of unease, or a lack of conviction. Quite the contrary, we use the term advisedly, because it's what we mean.

Civil marriage is just that: a contract between a civil entity, in this case the state in which one resides, and two people who have met, fallen in love, and committed their lives to each other. Civil marriage equality recognizes the unique relationship we enjoy in this nation between religious congregations of all types, sizes and definitions, and the various governmental bodies that tend to the civil affairs of our society such as taxation, property issues, elective office, driving privileges, schools and what have you. And, yes, civil marriage. Indeed, marriage is the perfect venue in which to best illustrate this unique separate relationship between two powerful entities in our society--religion and government. Just as the state has no authority or power within the walls of a church, church groups have no authority or power in the halls of government. Unlike other countries, whose governmental entities rely on religious texts to rule their populace, we in America rely on our Constitution & civic institutions to do so, for the benefit of all.

Thus our use of your term civil marriage. In this insistence on that term there is protection for both parties, should that be necessary. Religious groups refer to marriage, or matrimony, or wedded bliss, and that is their right. We are not discussing equal access to those things; we are speaking about only the state sanctioned status of civil marriage.

Just so, civil marriage equality is, in all but six states at this writing, currently being denied to our LGBT citizens--despite the legal & constitutional protections, and the long-standing adherence to the separation principle we have enjoyed in America.

This is why we're cautious to use the term civil marriage. Various groups insist that the word marriage is unimportant, and that partnership, or civil union, or life-partner is acceptable. But as we'll see in a later section, the term civil marriage is vitally important. Words have power; anything less than full civil marriage is a 'separate but equal' condition, therefore inherently different and unequal. Just as the terms are important, the concern must be discussed with full transparency. There is no 'gay agenda' so-called. The only thing LGBT people want is what heterosexual couples have taken for granted for a very long time. Thus, what needs to be discussed is the similar, not something different, or special. Not 'gay marriage', or same-sex marriage', but civil marriage. Period. Heterosexual couples would not use the term straight marriage. Our LGBT good friends should expect nothing less than the clarity in the term marriage, and all it holds.

* Getting involved: Why should we get involved, and how best to do this? There are a number of ways to propel the issue of civil marriage equality forward. The first and best way is to simply not avoid discussing it at every opportunity. This is not always appropriate, or possible, and there is a natural reluctance to talk about private, personal matters. Most people heterosexual or homosexual aren't wary of discussing anyone else's marriage, so the basic concern is filled with anxiety by itself. If it helps, bear in mind that one of the primary reasons homosexual access to civil marriage is such a delicate topic is because LGBT people have always, unfairly but consistently, been viewed and considered in light of little else than their sexual proclivities.

Heterosexuals openly discuss families, careers, weddings, recent dating experience, even sex among total strangers. If homosexuals do the same, they have an agenda. Hetero people talk about the most intimate parts of their lives, and demonstrate often highly provocative behavior in public. If homosexuals do that they're 'flaunting it'.

So a possible first step is to become aware from the latent discrimination that exists in our hetero-normative society, and go from there. To reiterate, if we feel uneasy discussing the problem with pals & family members, or colleagues at work, the anxiety manifests in a stridency that is difficult to put aside. The best approach to take if the discussion becomes heated, or your talking points don't seem to apply is to recognize that you may be speaking to someone who is not in the movable middle after all, and change the subject. Confrontation is counterproductive. But open, logical, reasonable discussion can be invaluable.

* Civil unions Vs civil marriage: "Would you settle for a civil union?" Asked in a calm, reasoned manner, this may be a good way to open any discussion from the all too common civil union Vs civil marriage question. The response most often is no, "but this is different". "We're speaking about traditional marriage", people say. "We don't want to interfere with traditions like this."

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