The issue of gay-lesbian or same-sex marriages is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. We don’t know how they will rule. But here’s how this situation should be resolved.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Public Law 104-199, passed in 1996, defined marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” It also defines the term spouse as a person of the opposite sex in such unions, who is a husband or wife.
The term “union” here is important. It represents two people coming together as a single entity. Thus a marriage is a form of union. It could thus be reasoned that a traditional marriage is a subset of a union.
For the moment, let’s refer to both the traditional marriage and what is commonly called gay-lesbian or same-sex marriages as unions to avoid the emotional content of the term marriage.
Should there be such unions formed by two people of the same sex/gender?
In a supposedly free society, the capability should exist for two people to live their lives as they wish, as long they don’t directly negatively impact others. This could be living together in an informal relationship, or in a more formal one.
If such a couple decides to formalize their relationship with a union and the cost to establish the framework for that option is not prohibitive, they should be permitted to do so.
A formalization should require an application for and valid licenses approved for the union. It should require they meet the same responsibilities and obligations to each other as in a heterosexual union. They should have the same options and requirements for a divorce, if the union becomes unsatisfactory for some reason(s). People involved in such unions should have the same options, such as survivor tax benefits, social security benefits, insurance premium reductions, and so on, as the traditional heterosexual union.
The laws or rules should be equivalent for a same-sex union as they are for a traditional heterosexual union.
Let’s go back and further consider terminology.
Should we call a same-sex union a marriage? No. The history of the traditional union should be maintained as is. A same-sex union is clearly different from a traditional heterosexual union. For example, a same-sex union does not include a coming together for possible natural procreation of the species. It should simply be called a union by using the superset word, or we could put heads together and come up with a new or different word. Those choosing that lifestyle should be willing to accept this.
Not using the word marriage to describe a same-sex relationship should also be acceptable to those who object to that type of union or relationship. Let’s live and let live. Let those who prefer the same-sex lifestyle exercise their freedom in their way as a union. People should not impose their own religious or other beliefs on others.
Then, how should we refer to the members of a same-sex union. The term partner appears to be commonly used. But partner has led to confusion at least in some cases with a business partner, so that’s not the best option.
Instead, let’s redefine or expand the definition of “spouse” as used in the DOMA to: “the other member of a two-person union.”
Finally, how will the Supreme Court rule on this? Is such a union constitutional or not? Does it even matter within the constitution? The constitution doesn’t address this matter, so it is irrelevant.
1 – Given the strong desire to form an official, loving relationship, same-sex unions should be permitted with the same benefits and responsibilities as heterosexual unions.
2 – Marriage has been a term used exclusively for millennia to refer to a union of one man and one woman. That should be retained. If desired, another term should be developed for same-sex unions.
3 – The definition of the term “spouse” should be revised as indicated.