Sunday, September 14, 2003

What's in a name?

Last night I attended the annual Wingspan Benefit Dinner. The keynote speaker placed Dean in the same category as Bush and Kerry because Dean advocates equal rights for the LGBT community via civil unions in lieu of marriage. She proclaimed that those who work for these people have become the apologists for their candidate to the LGBT community. I was upset for two reasons: A. I am not now nor will I ever be an apologist for any person. B. The speaker's remarks indicate to me that people are not thinking critically about this issue.Those who desire equality must realize that this is not a black and white issue and if equality is to be obtained we must examine our society not with our hearts but with our minds. Below is my opinion on this issue.

Marriage, according to my American Heritage Dictionary, is the "state sanctioned union between a man and a women." What the dictionary leaves out is the religious connotations that are attached to marriage; the vast majority of marriages in this country are performed and sanctioned by religious institutions. We live in a secular country. Our government, regardless of how individual politicians or citizens feel, cannot force religious institutions to sanction unions between same-sex couples. It is sad that most religious institutions do not embrace all their followers but the government can not change religious beliefs. The work for equal recognition within religion is the job of the religion's members, they are the only ones who have the power and influence to make changes.

Our government does have the power to extend equal rights to all couples. It can sanction and recognize
unions between couples both homosexual and heterosexual. These unions are called civil unions. Many
ask why there is this distinction and why can't unions between same-sex couples be labeled as marriage.
As individuals, people can call their union whatever name they choose. As stated earlier marriage is a
religiously charged term. Our government recognizes religiously sanctioned unions because the majority of our citizens choose this type of union. I personally believe that because our government is secular it should not do this; civil unions should be used for everyone. Like the brand names Kleenex and Q-tips, marriage has become the common term used to denote a union between two people regardless of whether it is religiously sanctioned.

I support Howard Dean because he thinks critically about this issue. I support Howard Dean because he
supports me.


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