Thursday, May 28, 2009

Episode 61: American Civil Union Act of 2009


The fight for equal marriage laws has brought former opponents together to fight for the rights of the disenfranchised LGBT population. Theodore Olson and David Boies, who represented opposite sides in the infamous Bush v. Gore, have filed a lawsuit in deferral court on behalf of two gay men and two gay women. The hope is the lawsuit, which argues that California’s proposition 8 denies gay couples due process and equal protection, will make it to the Supreme Court. A favorable ruling would legalize gay marriage for the country.

I am a firm believer in human rights, and think that gay couples should have the same exact protection under the law as heterosexual couples, which includes tax benefits and hospital visitation rights among others. However, I would agree with the ACLU that it is not likely that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of gay marriage. Though the movement is gaining momentum, the issue is still too much of a hot button issue to gain widespread acceptance. I consider myself to be a… secular progressive on the religious front, so I’m not at all bothered by the idea of gay couples marrying. Still I can empathize with the Christian community’s concerns on the “sanctity of marriage.” Thus I have a solution that will make everyone happy.

I have alluded to this solution before, but now will officially present it here on The L Comment. The bill I propose is called the American Civil Union Act of 2009. It is a federal bill that will deem ALL unions as civil unions, gay or heterosexual. All couples in a civil union are granted the exact same rights. Marriages are no longer under government jurisdiction and the marriage ceremony is deferred to the church. If a secular church wants to marry gay couples they can. If they don’t they do not have to be forced to. It also eliminates the syntax problem with our current civil union system. Allowing heterosexual couples to marry, while granting gay couples civil union status (which the same privileges as marriage) without calling the union marriage, is a clear cut “separate but equal” situation.

I think this is one of the most flawless bills to ever be introduced in Washington. Everybody wins and no one loses. Now, someone with the power to make this happen should take it to the next level!
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20 comments: on "Episode 61: American Civil Union Act of 2009"

conservative generation said...


Sorry for my abscense. I had a house fire over the weekend :( I promise to comment on your post when I'm on lunch.

Grog said...

You can count on my full support for this bill.

Also what do you make of the fact that 70 percent of African- Americans voted in favor of prop 8 in CA?

The Law said...

CGen: I hope everything is alright!!

Grog: As a Black male, I'm disappointed, still not at all surprised.

Extreme conservatives and Fox news like to point at that fact, but Blacks only make up a tiny portion of the California population beleive it or not. Given 6.7% of California is Black, and assuming for arguments sake half of them voted, we're looking at around 800,000 no votes for prop 8. Given that there were 17 million registered voters in California, the no votes fromt he Black population only equate to 4% of the vote. Thus is every Black person in California voted against prop 8, the measure still would have passed.

With the statistics out of the way, let's examine the social issues. Black history in America has been for 90% of it, in captivity. 1619 - 1863 was in legal captivity, and 1877-1969 was spent in social captivity (end of reconstruction to end of civil rights movement). Thus, Blacks have been taught through their roots in slavery to be social conservatives. Their slave masters were super religious, and that part of the Black culture hasn't really gone away. Also consider that the the largest population of Blacks in CA per cpaita is in L.A., a higher population live in Northern CA which tends to vote more republican, adding to the conservative vote.

Is is ironic, that after many years Black people, who have fought, been jailed, and died to have their freedoms recognized, vote to take away the freedoms of another group? You bet it is. No question about it. But religion is a 1 million ton bulldozer that won't stop until it runs out of gas. Though the fuel tanks is nearing empty with respect to gay marriage, theres still a lot of fight left in the truck.

conservative generation said...


We are good just inconvenienced. Thanks for asking :)

I don't have a problem with civil unions having the same legal status. I think most people on the right would even agree to that. I may be wrong.

Changing the definition of marriage based on love is something entirely different. Marriage has always been defined by one man and one women. It's always been that way. In every society since the beginning of time. If you are going to change it based on the argument that two people love each other and gender does not matter, then why must it be just two people? Why not three people that love each other or four? Why not brothers and sisters...if they love each other? Why not children and adults? Shouldn't all these people be able to exercise their love via marriage? What about their civil liberties.

I don't think changing a definition brings equality. Would changing the definition of Caucasian to include African Americans or Latinos suddenly end the issue of racial civil liberties? Would that make all races equal? In fact, most people take pride and find common ground in the word definitions that define their race. That is why celebrating diversity is so important.

That being the case, wouldn't bridging the gap between gay and heterosexuals be better served if the definition of marriage was not changed?

I know this wasn't truly your topic, but I missed commenting on your post about gay marriage and thought I had a good opportunity here.

The Law said...

I think there is much truth to your argument. That's why I think we have to take the religious part of marriage out of the government. That way we are not dealing with syntax issues of "what *is* marriage really" or hey gay couples, you can have all the rights of a married coupled but we're not going to call you married.

Also, I think passing my bill through legislation gives the movement more legitimacy than through a court ruling... Roe V. Wade can be overturned, but a federal ruling is far more difficult to change.

Under this bill, the marriage definition would remain exactly the same, and I think that's the most important part.

conservative generation said...


Just to clarify. A man and woman would still be married, just recognized as a civil union under the law??? Do I have it right?

The Law said...

Exactly. Every single union, whether it is between a man and woman or same sex is a civil union. A man and woman would be married by the church. Same sex couples *could* get married too if the church is of the secular kind, but marriage is not officially recognized by the government, it is just a ceremony.

Nick said...

I'm thinking of a comment... something about smart minds (even though I'm not generally of a liberal mindset)...


Left Coast Rebel said...

TL - I like your idea here - the fact that your bill would simply get the federal government out of the marriage business is something that I would wholeheartedly support. Like Conservative Generation, I would also support a civil union arrangement too. Not much to disagree with here as far as my point of view goes....even though I am certainly not a secular progressive!

The Law said...

Thanks LCR, I may be of a liberal mind, but I know theres lots of places we can meet in the middle once in a while =)

Mark Meloy said...

I dont even know where to begin here, but to say how terrible this idea is. It has been proposed numerous times, including, of all places, in an episode of The West Wing, and is always shot down. Gay rights is not an issue where we need to meet in the middle. This is not a compromise issue. If African Americans were not allowed in restaurants in the 50's, and the compromise included renaming some of them "eateries" that they would be allowed into, and the rest considered religious restaurants they were not allowed to me members of, what would have been the reaction? With budgets, stimulus packages, even Isreal v. Palestine, there are concessions needed all over the place. The right for gays to marry is a human rights issue, even suggesting that there should be any concessions, such as settling for a "civil union" as opposed to marriage, is despicable.

The Law said...

The dissenting opinion... I knew I wasn't going to get away scott-free haha.

Here is where I disagree with you Mark. Marriage, especially in Christian culture is a religious ceremony that is defined as a union between a man and a woman. Personally, I don't think it matters too much, because I thought marriage was a union with a couple and God, regardless of orientation. But that's neither here or there, because who am I to define religious parameters? By taking the religious aspect of the ceremony out of governmnet purview, there is absolutely no reason why there should be any law prohibiting same-sex couples. You're asking the entire religious community to set aside their beliefs on homosexuality, and i that's the roa we're going to take, it may be quite some time before the religious far-right come around.

Plus, in this bill, this *does not* take away same sex couples ability to "marry." While people can still consider themselves married, the term is not officially recognized for anyone. Therefore is a same sex couple wants to get "married," if they can find a secular church who will perform the ceremony, then they can enjoy the religious part of the ceremony just like anyone else.

The critical difference between gay marriage and civil rights comes down to one word: religion. Polls show that most Americans are ok with same sex couples having all the same rights and privilege as married couples without calling it marriage. That to me is despicable because that is clearly an issue of "separate but equal is inherently equal."

I don't think it is fair for the government to impose a law onto a religious community. That's why it would be better served to take the religious component out of government, and return it to where it belongs -- the church.

Mark Meloy said...

Actually, religion has little to do with it. Marriage has been around as long as can be remembered, in every society. Certainly long before Christianity. In my state, Connecticut, we just passed a law legalizing gay marriage, yet added an amendment that would not obligate any church to perform the ceremony should they choose not to. This is ideal. This still does not mean marriage can be claimed as religious. Religion has certainly adopted it from earlier societies, thats all. Even when a religious ceremony takes place, the need is still there for the couple to obtain a marriage license, where criteria must be met, such as compatible blood tests, that often do not exist in religion.

Most important though, is the point that this should not be an issue. This is human rights, if your human, you have the same rights as others. Changing the law to eliminate legal recognition of marriage and replace it with "civil unions" is discriminatory against those that, having been raised during the past 6 or so centuries, have had marriage all around them, would like to be married but now cannot because the state no longer erforms the ceremony. Marriage by any other name is still marriage, to change the name to appease the gay community is belittling, a backhanded attempt of reverse psychology.

The Law said...

" Changing the law to eliminate legal recognition of marriage and replace it with "civil unions" is discriminatory against those that, having been raised during the past 6 or so centuries, have had marriage all around them, would like to be married but now cannot because the state no longer erforms the ceremony. "

You know, I never really thought of it that way before. However, I'm not changing the name to appease the gay community, but solely to take *any* religious ceremonial tradition out of government jursidiction. It is more of an edtension of separation of church and state. In the case of marriage, church and state got tangled together like the wires behind the TV stand, and I think the fairest way to handle the religious issue of marriage (and I disagree with you here, I think the people who are concerned with gay marriage are concerned for religious reasons) is to not let government dictate how people practice their faith.

Really Mark, I don't think much would change. Everyone would get a civil union license, and go to a church and get married. Wedding rings, honeymoons and all. And this allows everyone to pursue all the joys and benefits marriage has to bring without stepping on people's toes.

I mean, some Christians think Christmas is the actual birth date of Jesus. Like marriage, it is a tradition that has its origins elsewhere, but has become deeply indoctrinaed into Christian culture. Try a super religious Christian that marriage has roots in cultures that pre-date Christianity by centuries and a holy war may ensue. Rather than fight that battle, let's take government out of the equation.

Still, not only your argument has much merit Mark, I whole-heartedly agree with you, that gay couple should just be able to marry with the laws as is. I think this bill is the next best thing to ensure that they receive equal protection under the law now, not after a few more years of deliberation.

Grog said...

I think Mark is right in principle because really all we are doing is playing semantic word games with marriage to offend as few people as possible. We are changing laws treating people differently based on their sexual orientation.

However, in practice the bill would make a lot of people feel like full citizens again so I'm all for it.

Mark Meloy said...

Your appeasing the wrong group. When fighting for equal rights, the goal is not to appease those that are fighting to withhold them. This is like passing a law to appease the rednecks that did not want to integrate schools. Instead, and rightfully so, we passed the right law, and forced them, at gunpoint, to follow. Marriage has been part of cultures for centuries, and extends far past Judeo-Christian beliefs. If the religious nuts cant see that, why should those for equal rights need to appease them?
I am not a gay man, yet am immensely proud of my state for the law we passed, and made no attempt to appease those that would look to withhold equal rights to everyone. If two people want to get married, then get married. And as it has been called "marriage" since, at the very least, ancient Babylon, we keep it that way.

conservative generation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Left Coast Rebel said...

TL - I'm looking forward to your post on education and such, please hurry up!

The Law said...

Oh no worries, I will... regular posts are my musings on poltical philosophies. For big posts like the upcoming education one, I have to research them first, and make sure the data matches my philosophy, otherwise I have to formulate a new thesis! However, it is almost done... there is one more post to go before the education one is ready to go!

Left Coast Rebel said...

TL - I know what you mean, it is a lot of work to put together a good post, some take me upwards of 4-6 hours, teeming with info and opinion that you would potentially disagree with :). I appreciate the class and clarity though that you bring to your liberal tendency side - most debate on the internet of liberal/conservative is very unpleasant and below the belt. I read on a Republican girl's blog a comment from a liberal that basically pointed to her as being a backwoods slut and a redneck, etc, all the while not debating. People think that it's ok to be disgusting and nasty behind the computer screen.....

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