From Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, marriage is defined as such:
A marriage is a relationship between or among individuals, usually recognized by civil authority and/or bound by the religious beliefs of the participants. The fact that marriage often has the dual nature of a binding legal contract plus a moral promise can make it difficult to define.
Gay rights advocates assert that marriage is a right since it is a legal agreement on the governmental level which should not be restricted to opposite-sex couples. Their opponents assert that marriage is not itself a right and should be allowed and/or disallowed on moral and/or religious grounds, as a change in the definition of marriage could lead to the breakdown of civil society. Most of the controversy centers around the government definition of marriage, rather than the blessing of same-sex unions by individual religious organizations, which may or may not be recognized as civil marriages.
The first important excerpt from our definition of marriage is as "...a relationship between or among individuals, usually recognized by civil authority...". Until mid 5 AD, marriage was considered a strictly civil insititution. It wasn't until the 12th century that the Catholic Church and other Orthodoxies formally made marriage a sacrament of the Church.
That brings us to the second excerpt from our definition concerning religion, which defines marriage as "...a relationship between or among individuals...bound by the religious beliefs of the participants. What struck me when I read this was the definite individualization of the statement...meaning that we are bound by our own intrinsic beliefs, not by any outside influence.
It becomes, yet again, my friends a QUESTION OF SEMANTICS.
At present, same-sex marriages are recognized in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, and the U.S. state of Massachusetts (for same-sex marriages performed within that state under its own particular laws).
In November 2006, eight states will decide whether to add bans on same-sex marriage through specially placed wording inside their own state's Bill of Rights (constitutions). The state of Colorado will vote on Amendment 43, which will determine whether or not same-gender marriage bans should be included in the legislative codes of the constitution, on Nov. 7, 2006.
New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples on Wednesday, October 25, 2006, but left it up to the legislature as to whether the state will recognize same-sex marriages or adopt a civil union approach to providing those rights. The legislature has six months to make a decision regarding same-sex marriages.
On December 1, 2005, South Africa's Constitutional Court extended marriage to include same-sex couples. The court mandated that changes go into effect by the end of 2006.
Civil unions, domestic partnerships or registered partnership offer varying amounts of the benefits of marriage, which are available in: Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom; Tasmania, and the U.S. states of California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, and Vermont; and the U.S. District of Columbia (Washington, DC).
Many people feel that civil unions, even those which grant equal rights, are inadequate as they create a separate status, and should be replaced by gender-neutral marriage. I changed my own personal opinion after researching information to write this blog.
I had always wondered why the gay community couldn't be happy with a law for civil union, since healthcare, survivor benefits & other legal issues seemed to be the main concern. Understanding the restrictions & limitations the State & Federal governments could place on us is the key. In addition, the degrees of separation would become even more distanced.
To be quite "black & white" about it...we would be allowing the government to determine our rights for us and to identify our unions as somehow different from the norm.
Make your choice on Nov. 7 & please don't allow silence to equal consent.
LET OUR VOICES BE HEARD!!!