A friend of mine, Bart Campolo, brought this recent TIME Magazine article to my attention through his blog. The article is about two law professors, one who is in favor of gay marriage and the other who is against it, and their new theory in how to provide legal and political space for marriage, that would satisfy both ends of the spectrum. They suggest that in order to provide this space marriage must be removed from the hands of the government.
“Instead, give gay and straight couples alike the same license, a certificate confirming them as a family, and call it a civil union — anything, really, other than marriage. For people who feel the word marriage is important, the next stop after the courthouse could be the church, where they could bless their union with all the religious ceremony they wanted. Religions would lose nothing of their role in sanctioning the kinds of unions that they find in keeping with their tenets. And for nonbelievers and those who find the word marriage less important, the civil-union license issued by the state would be all they needed to unlock the benefits reserved in most states and in federal law for married couples.”
In a further explanation the article went on to state that:
“Both sets of lawyers agreed that the idea would resolve the equal-protection issue. Take the state out of the marriage business and then both kinds of couples — straight and gay — would be treated the same.”
It’s an interesting concept, one that I think the GLBT and secular communities would have no problem with—but ultimately one that I don’t think the Church would ever agree to. Legally it makes sense: if there is a legally documented separation between Church and State, then marriage must be included in that separation as well. These professors’ theory makes room for such a thing. But at the end of the day the Church has staked a claim on the “marriage business” and I would be shocked to systemically see that ever change.
None the less, it doesn’t mean it’s not a great concept or one that should be seriously considered.
I was wondering all of your thoughts as well? This could be a really interesting discussion…