Monday, August 14, 2006

Marriage Killers Behind Every Rock

Feddie at Southern Appeal has gone paranoid. In a way, I'm tempted not to blame him: the way the Washington Times phrases it ("Gays Expand Battlefield") is guaranteed to cause him a heart attack. But that would entail me forgiving him for trusting the Washington Times, and he should know better.

In any event, the subject of the post is the Beyond Marriage document I previously blogged about. Feddie says:
We (traditionalists) knew this was the game plan of the anti-marriage crowd all along; and now they've finally admitted it.

Err...admitted what, precisely? I'm guessing that this somehow undermines traditional marriage or families or something, but I don't really see how. Again, the Washington Times is partially to blame for just mischaracterizing the issue. The document, if you read it, actually has very little to do with gay rights at all--and where it does, its only tangential. The thrust of the proposal is that there are many forms of relationships which wouldn't fall under the rubric of "marriage" that still deserve some societal support. For example, an adult child caring for his ailing parents. Or a grandmother looking after her grandkids. Or an elderly widow and widower living together to look after each other, but not married. Or any non-traditional family type raising children (for whatever reason). Admittedly, some of the relationship types they choose are less socially-accepted than others (I pointed out that the document may be running ahead of itself in this respect), and obviously in some cases one of the persons in these relationships will be gay, but not always or even most of the time. So why is this even being framed as a gay rights issue is somewhat of a mystery to me, when the authors take pains to emphasize the separateness of this struggle from that one. This is a struggle to make sure that any type of family has access to the resources they need to care for one another, regardless of what title we attach to it.

Indeed, in many ways this proposal strikes me as significantly less radical than the call for gay marriage. Folks like Feddie often say that they don't oppose giving gay couples rights, they object to them appropriating to themselves the title of "marriage." Presumably, the reason for this is that even folks like Feddie agree that people who want to care for each other should be given whatever tools society has available to do so--but it's still important to preserve some socially noted status for a traditional family. It's tough to mediate between these two poles, since children should have protections regardless of whether we approve of the parents, as I'm sure Feddie would agree. If an adult tries to assist his ailing parents, that's quite noble, and society should do more to help that noble choice, as I'm sure Feddie would agree. Etc., etc.. People forming relationships to care for each other is the essence of that maxim (I recall reading it somewhere), Love thy neighbor as oneself. And that is roughly what this proposal advocates. Indeed, in many ways its Feddie's dream: It gives gay people rights, in the context of greatly increasing the resources and tools available to folks of all family types (predominantly heterosexual ones), while not letting any new people get married. Perfecto. So why the conspiracy-rhetoric about how beastiality is next?

It's everything he wants, it's everything he needs, it's everything inside of him that he wishes it could be, it's says all the right things, at exactly the right time, and it means nothing to him and I don't know why...

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