Let me admit up front that as hard as I may try to be empathetic, as a heterosexual I can probably never fully fulfill Atticus Finch’s condition that “you never really knew a man until you stood in his shoes and walked around in them” on this issue. But I still have to say that from the standpoint of political reality, the actual state of the nation as opposed to the one we would like, there is much to commend the compromise reached today by the New Jersey Supreme Court on gay marriage.
TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey’s Supreme Court opened the door to gay marriage Wednesday, ruling that homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, but leaving it to lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions.
The high court gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include same-sex couples or create a new system of civil unions for them.
The ruling is similar to the 1999 decision in Vermont that led to civil unions there, which offer the benefits of marriage, but not the name.
I can understand how any discrimination, including that implied by a different name — civil union rather than marriage — must be extraordinarily offensive to those most personally affected. But again we live in a world governed by reality. And the truth is that in reality, in most places, the push for gay marriage has actually cost gays and lesbians rights, rather than securing them.
I remember a year ago standing in the voting both, finding myself surprised by the degree of my sadness, as I read the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment that was guaranteed to pass notwithstanding my vote against it. It was such a hateful thing: And these so-called “men of God” who pushed it onto the ballot were frauds at heart: Like most gay marriage amendments passed across the country, it was sold as being pro-traditional marriage, when in truth it was anti-gay, and intended to be so.
Not only did the amendment outlaw gay marriage, but it also forbid recognition of civil unions — without expressly saying so (why mess things up with full disclosure) and went even beyond that. Frankly, even in my red state, I doubt the rest of that crap would have passed on its own, but the title gay marriage led it all to “glory.”
Civil union can be a bridge, perhaps not a fair one, but an effective one. It guarantees all people full civil rights now and affords society the opportunity to get comfortable with alternative loving relationships: The term marriage will then come into play over time naturally and unstoppably.
Again, these aren’t my shoes we’re walking in, but it’s certainly seems worth considering.