Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Reconciliation on Gay Marriage

02/23/09 NY Times:

David Blankenhorn is president of the Institute for American Values and the author of “The Future of Marriage.” Jonathan Rauch is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and the author of “Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights and Good for America.” In this opinion article, they propose that Congress

"bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill."

02/23/09 The Corner (National Review Online): Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, claims that "gay rights groups have shown little willingness to offer any substantive religious-liberty protections at the state level," and that a federal civil-unions law would be used "to endanger DOMA and state marriage laws."

02/24/09 ADF Alert: According to the Alliance Defense Fund, "[t]his proposal has already been offered as a compromise by many leading pro-family organizations. But, it has been rejected [by] proponents of marriage redefinition, because the real battle here is about defining societal norms[,] not benefits." Glen Lavy, Senior Vice President of ADF's Marriage Litigation Center, has claimed that " 'same-sex "marriage' advocates want to force the government and their fellow citizens not just to extend benefits to same-sex couples, but to fully endorse such relationships by extending legal status to them.

02/24/09 comment by Michael Ginsborg: Australia has recently adopted the Same Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Bill of 2008. This sweeping reform represents an alternative model for extending the rights and benefits of marriage, even if it falls short of recognizing an equal right to marry. The Blankenhorn-Rauch proposal of federal civil unions involves, by its own terms, a "separate-but-equal" legal status for same-sex couples, with a First Amendment allowance for religious discrimination, and an allowance for "religious-conscience" forms of government discrimination. Australia's new law has been designed to ban discrimination against same-sex couples, without creating a separate legal status arguably at odds with that status' anti-discriminatory intent. Instead, the Australian Bill confers federal recognition of equal treatment with respect to federal rights of de facto couples. According to family law practitioner Andrew McCormack of HopgoodGanim, in Brisbane:

"The rationale behind the Bill was to ensure that same sex couples have the same rights and privileges under Commonwealth legislation as opposite sex couples. It provides legislative recognition to same sex partners and their children to ensure that children are not disadvantaged due to the construction of their family unit."

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