The Oregon ballot, as you likely remember, featured measures dealing with the legalization of marijuana and privately owned casinos, two politically charged and morally oriented subject areas. Those measures failed.

In 2014, you can pretty much plan on being asked to weigh in, again, on a third important social issue: same-sex marriage, which won at the polls in Maryland, Maine, Washington and Minnesota this time around.

As Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s flagship marriage-equality group, and other backers work on their plans, here’s what we hope they come up with:

A proposal that gets our state — in which the constitution has been amended to define marriage as a one-man, one-woman proposition — out of the “marriage” business altogether, a business we never should have been in in the first place.

Here’s what we mean:

Rather than handing out marriage licenses, the state could issue every interested couple — same-sex or heterosexual — a civil union license and contract that covers all the rights and responsibilities currently owned by married people.

With that license/contract in hand, a couple would be free to do whatever they wanted in terms of a ceremony, religious or otherwise, and they could call their union whatever they wanted: A marriage, domestic partnership, etc.

Some same-sex marriage supporters likely won’t be truly satisfied unless the state and by extension all of its residents acknowledge those unions as “marriages.” They want that brand of validation, even though in some people’s minds, marriage simply does refer to a man and a woman; that’s not a value judgment, just a question of semantics.

But semantics aren’t really the point, and Basic Rights Oregon’s post-election press release aims to spell out what the point really is: “As more and more Americans are having conversations with gay and lesbian friends and family, they’re coming to realize that this is not a political issue. This is about love, commitment and family.”

They are correct.

So let’s have our state sanction the legal and financial aspects of couples’ unions and leave the name of those unions up to the couples and their families and friends. That’s a compromise, and a corrective turn in state government terminology, that we all ought to be able to get behind. (sl)

(19) comments

Scott Bruslind
Scott Bruslind

Thank you Jesus for Steve Lathrop's clear thinking and writing. I wrote the same to the Lebanon Express in 2007-
http://lebanon-express.com/news/opinion/leave-marriage-to-churches/article_cdf9b175-7e50-5c2f-9f53-5d2b0bcc1262.html

The point I want to press is that churches should get behind this idea. It will put marriage back where it belongs- solely within the sacred bounds of intentional religious communities. They decide whom they will marry.

Want to make a civil contract with your true love? Get to the county courthouse and get hitched.

Want to declare devotion and ask for a community's blessings? Better ask the brothers and sisters who best support you and your view of the Divine.

Scott Bruslind
Scott Bruslind

Steve Lundeberg, not Steve Lathrop. Sorry, Scott

Kenny D
Kenny D

I find it very strange that marriage is the only legal contract that requires gov't approval.

TheRealJules
TheRealJules

I'm sorry, but this isn't sufficient. Every time I ask a "gay marriage" advocate why civil unions aren't sufficient, they either refuse to answer or continue a tirade against homophobia and how their rights are being trampled. They clearly want to take the word "marriage" away from those who think it has some special significance and turn it into just another contract.

By the way, there are lots of contracts that need government approval. The feds poke their noses into all kinds of things, especially when they are telecom related or have some potential for limiting competition.

Kenny D
Kenny D

The difference between a 'marriage' and a 'civil union' is about 100 different rules. Civil union partners are excluded by HIPAA from making medical decisions for their partners, they do not share in federal retirement of pensions, and a host of other benefits. Right now, we have a system of 'separate and unequal' laws.

And no, Jules, there is no gov't approval needed for signing for utilities, renting or buying a house, signing for a cell phone, or buying a car. All of these aqctivities carry with them the same legal responsibility for debt as marriage, yet the gov't does not require to purchase a permit prior to signing the contract.

TheRealJules
TheRealJules

So, if the civil union laws are incomplete, CHANGE THE CIVIL UNION RULES. What a difficult concept, huh? Everyone is so busy trying to change the laws for marriage, why not use that energy to change something that very few people consider to be "special" or have any religious connotation? Stop trying to take the special nature of marriage away from those who believe it has some. If you are truly seeking the rights of joint couplehood, then that should be enough. If you are trying to take things away from others, it isn't.

I didn't say anything about signing for utilities or the rest of the things you mention, so no, you didn't prove I was wrong. All you did was come up with places where the government doesn't need to approve. They do in other places. Want to contract with someone to put up a 7' fence in Corvallis? Guess what -- you need city approval. So yes, there are contracts that the government gets involved in.

Kenny D
Kenny D

No, Jules, I do not need a gov't license to enter into a contract with a fence-builder. I may need to get a building permit, but I do not need a license to enter into the contract. Two different things.

And no, no one is trying to change marriage laws nor legal benefits. What needs to change in civil union laws and legal benefits at the state and federal level. Equal treatment under the law for all partnered couples - should be a slam-dunk.

Ezra
Ezra

Worst editorial ever in the DH....war's a coming if you plan on changing Oregon's constitution on marriage. It's a man & woman only!

scorpion
scorpion

I am going to play a little "Devils Advocate" here, because I happen to believe this concept that the churches are the ones that have created the concept of marriage, so its really their rules. The government has simply inserted itself into it.
But isnt this asking to take the word "marriage" out of the contract and replace it with "Civil Union"? The very concept that isn't good enough right now for gay right advocates or Kenny D? Do not gay couple want the union to be recognized as a marriage? I am a little confused by this notion that if we re-label it, it will somehow be better?

Kenny D
Kenny D

scorpion - it doesn't matter one whit what the partnership of two people is called. Until the laws applying to the legal benefits of civil unions are exactly the same as the laws applying to legal benefits of marriage, we will have inequality.

scorpion
scorpion

Ahhhh thank you for making my point Kenny D.
It DOES NOT matter what you call it.
Unless it is treated the same, its just semantics to change what it is called.
And if you kick it back to the church to decide, then how do you think will be the way they treat it?
This idea is a joke, and has no real merit.
Therefore, I fear that the real change that must happen for same sex marriage to be treated equally, MUST involve the government in order to move forward.

Kenny D
Kenny D

Exactly. Laws and regulations must be changed at the state and federal level to insure equal treatment under the law for all partnered couples.

Libertarian
Libertarian

Merriam-Webster online, definition 1 a (2) for “marriage”:
the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage

Words have meanings. Dictionaries tell us the meanings. Get over it.

Ray Kopczynski
Ray Kopczynski

I am inferring by your comment you disapprove of the drive to make a person' sex irrelevant in a "mariage." If so, how does that square with your passionate beliefs about freedom of choice as long as those choices harm no one?

Libertarian
Libertarian

Ray, aside from your expressed support for the flat tax ( which you probably no longer support), you never get anything right. You are so blinded by your belief that I’m some kind of nutcase that you cannot even read a simple comment and take it for what it says. My comment stated a dictionary definition of “marriage.” My comment stated that dictionaries tell us the meanings of words. The statement “get over it” means accept what the dictionary says. Yet you read this comment and take something completely different from it.

I am a libertarian. Libertarians support freedom. That’s what libertarianism is all about. To the best of my knowledge, libertarians have support same-sex marriage from day one. We are not selective, supporting this freedom, but not that one. We support freedom for all people to live according to their own choices so long as they are doing no overt harm to others.

Your support for the collectivist policies of CARA mean you do not support freedom. You support literally asserting ownership of your fellow citizens like me who simply want to be left alone. You use this egregious assertion of ownership to coerce us into supporting goals that are your goals, not our goals. That’s exactly what tyrants to.

I’m not saying all this to get into an argument. I will not be available for that.

Tennelson
Tennelson

Don't we already have legal civil unions in Oregon? Perhaps " marriage" should be outlawed for all, then we wouldn't have this pesky problem. :)

PereUbu
PereUbu

I don't really see how the church has full reign over the term "Marriage", but really..... who cares what it's called as long as everyone has access to equal rights.

This is not about the use of the trem "Marraige" Nor is it for the "Equal rights" for civil unions, other wise they would go after the rights and not the name. They want the name because the agenda is for total and complete acceptance of their life style. One would at least think they would come clean and admit that is what all of this garbage is about. ... Next up, marraige between more than two people.

John Puma
John Puma

Right on cue: strident howling from the "we're number 1" crowd that consistently and diligently prevents us from actually achieving that potential.

What is SO threatening about realizing one of our prime, national organizing concepts, that of equality under the law - the TRUE realization of which would add considerable credibility to the now tragically hollow claims of the "No.1'ers"?

To the person below horrified about the concept of changing the state constitution to allow marriage for all: I would remind you that Measure 36, of a few years back, is what would have to be repealed, and THAT change to the state’s constitution was a moment of profound ignominy as a majority of the people of the State of Oregon, joining some of the more regressive of the other states, totally REVERSED the national concept and legal tradition of expanding the recognition of rights of citizens.

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