Prescription II

that feel eighteen months post-Obergefell when you realize you missed your chance to be pro-civil-unions-with-all-the-same-legal-privileges but anti-calling-it-marriage while that position was still in the Overton window

(in keeping with the principle that it shouldn't be so exotic to want to protect people's freedom to do beautiful new things without necessarily thereby insisting on redefining existing words that already mean something else)

4 thoughts on “Prescription II

  1. Except this was never about the issue of redefining words or not. People just aren't sophisticated/pedantic enough to separate the issues.

    The issue that masqueraded as "redefining marriage" was should we give equal social status to homosexual unions as we do to heterosexual unions.

    I don't think most people who felt strongly about gay marriage as opposed to gay civil unions would have objected if society had stopped using the word marriage almost entirely and called both heterosexual and homosexual relationships unions or civil partnerships and only using the word marriage in those cases we would now say "heterosexual marriage."

    Unfortunately, the way language works this was never a plausible outcome. We redefine terms all the time and use them in the most convenient fashion. As such, once we accepted homosexual unions as having equal social status as heterosexual unions we were going to start calling them marriages. There was simply too much investment in the word marriage for us not to call whatever kind of unions that we gave full social approval to marriage.

    Moreover, the claim that one merely didn't want to redefine words was never plausible either. We redefine words all the time so if you really weren't opposed to giving equal social status to homosexual unions the mere fact that some people strongly cared about using the particular word 'marriage' should have been enough to justify changing it's meaning. Indeed, shifting our understanding of marriage to include homosexual unions actually amounted to far less work than reworking the vast body of laws that reference marriage to give homosexual unions equal status.

    The position that "marriage means heterosexual marriage" was perfectly reasonable but if you were merely motivated by precision and pedantry there was no reason not to say "yes, marriage means heterosexual marriage but we should redefine it to include homosexual unions as well."

  2. Mother! Oh, mother, I'm so happy! I met the woman I know I will enter a civil partnership with.

  3. having "separate but equal" arrangements makes it easier for bad-faith actors to undermine civil unions selectively, whereas unifying them together as just "marriage" makes it one single nice layer of abstraction that can't be as easily torn apart

  4. & legal definitions have never been perfect reflections of common language anyway; redefining marriage is really just redefining the legal definition of marriage, and doesn't necessarily have to have anything to do with private understanding of marriage

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