Call it something else.
Gay marriage faces opposition because the very term is repulsive to many.
The ideal family consists of a marriage of one man and one woman possibly followed by the birth of children. This is not now and possibly never was the makeup of the majority of families.
This did not matter so much until our nation became so concerned with privacy laws.
Decades ago, households consisted of multigenerational families and sometimes pairs or groups of unrelated people living together in long-term situations. Young men were less likely to live in a house with one or more other guys than to rent a room in someone else’s home or the YMCA. Young women were more likely to live with a partner, particularly when female schoolteachers remained single or were fired. No one suggested they automatically became gay when this happened.
A recent conversation among a group of seven women of various professional backgrounds shed light on the transition period. Two had taught, were still teaching when married and were fired when they became pregnant. Teachers of that era now have grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Those who remained single now share the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of others. Sometimes the family you choose is more precious than your own.
Two sisters, whom I knew well, lived together. When a third sister died, they took her young children into their home. The children grew up, got educations and jobs, and set up households of their own. One of the original two sisters married. The other did not.
A large family lived in my neighborhood. Four siblings remained single and lived together in the family home. Three had jobs and one kept house. I remember them as middle-aged people who seemed quite satisfied with this arrangement.
I remember two retired teachers from another neighborhood. They had met in college, ended up teaching in the same school system and together bought a house in which they lived more than 30 years. In a situation like this, who could you depend on – your loving family in another part of the state or your best friend in the same house?
People who join religious orders choose to share their destiny with others in their group, often forsaking their birth families. Nuns in particular live in close communities in convents with others of their order. At one time they were not allowed to go out except in pairs or groups. One of my older neighbors told me this story. She and her husband planned a party for a big wedding anniversary – probably their 40th or maybe 50th — and their daughter who was a nun had a hard time getting permission to attend, although the parents lived only a short streetcar ride away.
Let’s try a different hypothetical situation. A young man grew up in his grandmother’s home and is an adult on his own now. Probably there’s at least one young man like this in every council district in Fort Wayne.
Grandmother is taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Is the young man notified? Probably not. If he does not find out, he may not be able to get any information about her condition without more persuasive charm than Prince Harry or the legal clout of a power of attorney.
It’s time for our government to create some kind of domestic contract. Our privacy rules have become too strict. More people need legal recognition of the rights and responsibilities they choose to have for each other. Such a contract should be a long-term commitment and difficult to set aside. Just don’t call it marriage.
If churches choose to recognize this with a religious ceremony, that’s not the government’s concern.