"For the most part, the Republican Party is the only outlet where conservatives have a voice, so we have to use it. But it functions like a rusty knife we use only because we can't cut our steaks with a spoon."- Matthew Rathel

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Marriage of Semantics

As many of you know, the legislative supreme court of California has recently ruled the state's laws on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional and has set off yet another firestorm which will likely burn as hard and as fast as those that threatened houses near the Nappa Valley earlier this year. I think every one of us has an opinion on the issue, and because of the very nature of the contraversy, I don't think it is possible for any one of us to carry on an intelligent discussion without allowing emotion to get in the way of reason. That being said, I will now bombard you with my point of view which will undoubtedly make me feel better but will not have the slightest bit of effect on any of my readers.

The simple truth is that marriage should never have become a legal issue in the first place. In a perfect, and thus wholly unrealistic, world a man's vow to his wife and vise versa and trans versa (work that one out on your own) should be a private matter between the couple and the people and dieties in front of whom the vow is made. But property is a funny thing, and when it dances the tango with finances, it makes a mess of everything. A couple who lives together for many years and shares financial responsibility will, through sheer convience, come to collectively own property, and when that happens, the vows they make are recognized as having a monetary value. Now I am going to try my best to avoid a discussion of how the legal system works into the process because that is an entirely different issue, but the point I am trying to make is that by denying homosexual couples the right to a legal union, we devalue their collectively owned property and thus encroach upon their rights as citizens and property owners in a capitalist system. But do they deserve more than a legal union?

My answer here is no. I don't believe that Jefferson offered each of us life, liberty, and the right to have the government legally change the definition of a word. The word "marriage" has for thousands of years meant something along the lines of Merriam Webster's definition: "the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex in a relationship ..." Of course, one can argue that these definitions need to change with the times, but that is not an honest statement of the facts. Just because two people of the same sex want to be treated just like two married people doesn't make them married. In the society in which this debate is being held, the population has gradually taken the attitude of "well, if the people will it, then we can change the definition of marriage." However, I don't believe that words work that way. A pear is not a peach, and even if we petition all the dictionaries of the world to have the definition changed, the two fruits will not taste the same.

Likewise, what the homosexual community and its supporters on this matter fail to understand is that they are dealing with more than a word, they are dealing with thousands of years in which that word has been a symbol for something tangible: a man and a woman living together under a bond consecrated by their belief system and held sacred by the government that was built around the moral codes of its founders' religions. We can seperate the church from the state all we want to, but we cannot remove a moral from a word any more than we can petition the dictionary on behalf of a pear.

The truth is that there is a compromise to be made on the issue and those both sides will have to give up something they will not want to concede. For those who support same-sex marriage, they must settle for same-sex unions. For those who oppose both, they must give up the union to preserve the definition of marriage. For anyone who resides in the middle, he or she must work to encourage both sides to do their part to cool the flames.

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