How about a “plus one?”
Amidst all this carping about gay marriage, is there possibly a middle ground? Is there a solution that is acceptable to both sides?
Not because it’s not achievable, but because the current state of divisive politics – driven by the self-interest of our two political parties – makes fighting over problems more important than actually solving those problems.
Both parties use the emotional topics of our day – guns, taxing the rich, illegal immigration, women’s health, gay marriage, abortion – as wedge issues to earn for themselves the votes and contributions of supporters. They throw out some red meat and passionate people on both sides of an issue rally to their respective parties, ready for philosophical war. This benefits no one but the political parties, and it serves the interests of the parties to enflame and prolong conflict and contention.
As the result of this political goading, the most passionate on both sides of the issues become enthralled with the fight and the attack against opponents they see as evil.
It goes both ways, and it’s not right.
And it is front and center on the gay-marriage issue.
But let’s pretend it’s not. Let’s pretend the desire is to preserve what one side considers a sacred institution while at the same time satisfying the interests and needs of homosexual couples.
Is that possible?
Maybe. And even if not completely, perhaps we can get close practically.
Thus “plus one.”
Without touching the definition of marriage, there’s nothing that says our state and federal governments couldn’t create or modify legal relationships and contracts. For example, instead of giving certain rights of mutual property, paternity and inheritance exclusively to spouses, why couldn’t each person have the legal right to declare one person, regardless of relationship, to be their plus one. To be the person who shares their purse, their home, their obligations and their privileges.
Instead of basing it on who you sleep with, let it be determined by who you choose.
If that’s your spouse, fine. If that’s your gay lover, fine. It that’s your sister or your father or your best friend or your business partner, that’s your business.
Let’s recognize that people sometimes pair their lives and their resources. Often, they do it on the basis of sex and procreation – marriage and family. But why they do it doesn’t really have to be any of the government’s business. And the right to share your life and your resources with someone should not be defined exclusively by who you sleep with.
For the purpose of work benefits, 401k, tax filing, property ownership, civil liability, inheritance, health-care decisions, military dependency – and any other privilege currently accorded spouses – there is no real reason that your chosen partner has to be your husband or wife, gay or straight.
It’s your life, your property and your business, and instead of asking the government to get more involved – by creating and enforcing a gay marriage – perhaps we should ask it to get less involved – by letting us decide more broadly who we want to share our properties and our privileges with.
If it’s your spouse, great. If it’s your gay lover, great. If it’s your mom or your kid sister or your widowed sister-in-law, it doesn’t really matter – it’s your business.
Some have called this a form of domestic partnership. Perhaps, but not domestic partnership as a form of “marriage lite,” or a gay substitute for marriage. I’m talking about a complete comingling of finances and legalities, to survive even the death of one of the parties.
To adopt and share parenthood, to owe taxes and own property, to be one corporate body before the law. And to do that without regard to the concept of marriage and without regard to any sort of sexual or romantic relationship.
We should just accept that any person gets one other person with whom they can partner up. Their plus one. The nature of the relationship between those two people should not be any of society’s or the government’s business. They can be lovers, they can be business partners, they can be siblings, they can be strangers.
Such a legal option would not require the Supreme Court, it would not require a redefinition of marriage, it would neither deny the gay nor offend the religious. It would be neutral in terms of both values and tradition, and liberating in terms of personal choice and freedom.
And it is a fair middle ground.
And nobody is suggesting it. Nobody is working on it.
Nobody is working on anything.
Because the fight is so lucrative to the political parties. One party profits from one side of the issue and the other party profits from the other side of the issue.
In this matter, like so many public controversies, the two political parties aren’t representing their constituents, they are exploiting their constituents. The fight over gay marriage isn’t really left versus right, it is parties versus people.
Which means we all loose.