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Ben
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Separate from the whole marriage and traditional thing, how would you define a civil union? Considering all the legal issues and debates piled onto marriage, I sometimes think it'd be better for the government to get out of the marriage business entirely, leave it as a sacrament of the church or a community event comparable to a cotillion or other similar celebration. Let people do the civil union thing for legal reasons, and marriage for social or religion, optionally. In which case, what would define a civil union separately from a marriage, if the government did go that way?

My beginning point here: A civil union is defined as two people who, with the recognition and sponsorship of the government, commit to form a family with each other as spouses and the primary next of kin, with all the legal benefits and obligations of family as has been formalized in law.

Just looking for your thoughts on civil unions and how you might define them, on their own. I almost wrote it without specifying "spouse" since I was thinking some people might want to be brothers or sisters, but then I realized it might go too far into adoption and figured I'd step back from that, though if you can argue a good reason or provide a better way to word it in the definition of civil unions, go for it.

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philnotfil
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Here are most of the federal laws dealing with the legal aspects of marriage as of 1997:
http://www.gao.gov/archive/1997/og97016.pdf

I think that any civil union would have to include all of these.

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Carlotta
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In my opinion, if we're going to have civil unions there should not be a requirement of a sexual relationship. I am fine with two people deciding to become next of kin and form an intended lifelong legal familial partnership and have no problem including two siblings in this arrangement.
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Pyrtolin
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Why even limit it to two people at that point? Just make it a fully adaptable contract for incorporating a committed family/household.
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Ben
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philnotfil, I thought "with all the legal benefits and obligations of family as has been formalized in law" would cover laws about marriage too. Am I missing something or a distinction with the wording? And if the government decided to get out of the marriage issue, likely the laws would be rewritten to use words like "civil union" instead of "marriage,", and retroactively grant a separate civil union to all marriages completed before the passage of law, if only to avoid the rush and workload that'd be involved if everyone had to go in and fill out forms.

Pyrtolin, didn't Heinlein write about something like that where some type of synthetic family is incorporated as people (more than 2) join together to form a family? I can't remember what the name was though. I don't recall if they allowed for sibling type relationships rather than the adults all having a spousal type relationship. I am cautious about adding the complexity of adoptions to the issue, but if you can explain how that'd work out and how to word that into a basic definition of civil unions, I'd be happy to hear more.

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noel
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Ben,

The primary objection that I can discern to the phrase "Civil Union", is that it draws any distinction at all with "marriage". Ultimately the SSM agenda mandates that homosexual partnerships be perceived by society as having equal value with heterosexual marriage... in all aspects.

It is less about practical considerations than psychological affimation.

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DonaldD
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That would only be the case where the government did not also, as Ben suggested 'get out of the marriage business'. Sure there will always be outliers, even folks who want the government to allow only same sex marriages, but allowing same sex partners the same recognition as dual sex couples would do just fine at fulfilling that 'equal value' requirement.

As far as I know, that equal value argument is always brought up in response to providing a separate, non-marriage option for gays.

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noel
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No Donald. The "equal value" argument is a SSM touchstone. Read the Walker opinion.
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Pete at Home
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My whole argument here for ssus was that they were neither separate nor equal. That there's distinct function and purpose.
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noel
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Pete,

I understand the separate, and unequal, definition as self-evident. SS unions simply do not have the same value to society that heterosexual marriage (or it's prehistory equivalent) does, and there is about 50,000 years of behavioral evolution behind that opinion.

What would make a SSU not "separate"?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
In which case, what would define a civil union separately from a marriage, if the government did go that way?
There would be absolutely no need to define a civil union separately from a "marriage" in that scenario. People could call themselves "married" for any reason they wanted, and the government would offer "civil unions" for specific unions it chose to recognize. There would be no legal definition of "marriage."
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noel
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Tom,

That actually is an accurate restatement of the SSM effort, which is why California titled Proposition 8 "Protection of Marriage".

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by noel:
Pete,

I understand the separate, and unequal, definition as self-evident. SS unions simply do not have the same value to society that heterosexual marriage (or it's prehistory equivalent) does, and there is about 50,000 years of behavioral evolution behind that opinion.

What would make a SSU not "separate"?

The term "separate but equal" relates to use of government resources and facilities. Blacks were sent to separate schools. Same-sex unions, in contrast, would have access to the identical institutions such as courts and administrative offices as marriages have. Hence neither separate nor equal. Simply distinct.
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Funean
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Marriage should be a religious term.

The community has an interest in supporting the stability of households rearing children.

Everything else between adults should be accomplished by personal contract.

There, that should settle it. [Smile]

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Ben
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Noel, I was deliberately neutral on the sex/gender for my initial definition of a civil union as I believe that everyone should have equal access and rights, though I can see some points to Pete's comments on differences depending on the type of relationship. I think that'd be something to hammer out in the details of family law though, regarding offspring and such.

My $.02 on why government should go with civil unions since marriage is so loaded with religion. The government doesn't recognize baptisms or require Catholics to accept Mormon baptisms for example, so why the marriage of one group of people by others? Let the various churches say what's kosher or not, whether pork or same sex unions, aNd the government is out of it by sticking with civil unions, so people can worship and associate freely as they choose.

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Pete at Home
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I don't want to see the government recognizing or even allowing uncle-neice or aunt-nephew marriages, regardless of what any religion says. I could not care less if the government recognized uncle-nephew or aunt-neice same-sex unions, provided that both parties are of suitable age to consent.
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noel
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Ben,

Gender, genetic relationship, and behavioral patterns cannot reasonably be left out of the calculus when child rearing is at issue. As much as we may like to believe that equal rights equates to blind uniformity in the application of family law, it has never been true... even in California. To say that we will just let the courts hammer child custody issues out, in the context of a Proposition 8 repeal by the court, means an affirmative preference for SS couples in adoption, and custody... political realities being what they are. No judge is going to want to wear the label "homophobe".

The "religious" proscriptions against adultery, homosexuality, incest, etc. have a basis in healthy human development. They are not, strictly speaking, religious. As Funean has stated, stability of a child's environment is a prime consideration. This is true, and it is not the only concern. A situation can be bad, and stable. Biology has hardwired some differences in the genders, and these differences have a very long history of success in sustaining, and securing, the species.

Court personnel are not, by contrast, any better equipped to guide the lives of others then they are their own families. You may as well play the odds in Vegas as rely on a Judge's wisdom in this regard... an honest Judge knows this, which is why they lean heavily on cultural preference in giving the benefit of a doubt to a mother's competency.

Exceptions to the default assumption can include SS couples, just as fathers are occasionally awarded primary custody, but these are the outliers, and should remain so.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
To say that we will just let the courts hammer child custody issues out, in the context of a Proposition 8 repeal by the court, means an affirmative preference for SS couples in adoption, and custody...
I would be very surprised if that were the case.
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noel
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Tom,

How frequently has the "homophobe" epithet been leveled at individuals who support Prop.8 on this board?

You think that Judges are insulated from criticisms that have a bearing upon their employment, and assignments within that employment?

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DonaldD
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Many people argue that Brown v Board of education was a bad legal decision, come to fruition by a court leading society down a particular ethical path.

Did we magically see an immediate 'affirmative preference' for blacks throughout society? Here's the deal: just after Brown there was exactly as much personal racism as immediately before Brown, even though we could argue that some of the systemic racism had been removed.

People actually making decisions on the ground did not suddenly become progressive, and many had to be brought kicking and screaming through the courts to enforce even those small gains.

Why would you expect any different for those people already loathe to deal with gays in the adoption area? Or do you think it is only the laws currently in place stopping adoption providers from discriminating against dual-sex couples?

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noel
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DD,

"... did we magically see an immediate 'affirmative preference' for blanks throughout the society?"... I note your shift to "personal" preference in a bait, and switch, pitch of your assertion.

The decisions from the bench are what matter in family law, not "personal preference". That was the whole point of the SSM lobby seeking judicial nullification of the popular vote.

[ September 27, 2010, 02:07 PM: Message edited by: noel ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
How frequently has the "homophobe" epithet been leveled at individuals who support Prop.8 on this board?
A better question would be "how frequently on this board has the 'homophobe' epithet been leveled at individuals who are not homophobes?"
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DonaldD
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Cut and paste is your friend, noel - that way it won't seem like I wrote 'blanks' instead of 'blacks' when you quote me.

The adoption business is not run by 'judges' noel, but rather by private individuals and organizations. Recognizing this is not a bait and switch, even if you did not understand the point.

Or are you most concerned with the relatively rare case of custody disputes between relatives, where one potential adoptive couple is gay and the other straight?

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noel
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Cut and paste is not an option on this phone until I figure out how that function works. [Wink]

Adoption agencies will be subject to the same pressures that college admissions boards were following Brown, and yes, the ramifications were immediate, pervasive, and resulted in "affirmative preference". Neither justice, nor education itself, was the beneficiary of that faulty decision. In fact, the very notion that "separate is inherently unequal" requires a structurally racist frame of reference.

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OceanRunner
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I think a civil union would have to look just like a marriage - obviously, the entire point is for the same rights and benefits.

Practically speaking, isn't everyone still going to call the civil union a marriage? It's a nice idea to set "marriage" aside as religious and "civil union" as being the government recognized, which I think is what they actually do in France with their strong preference for the secular distinction, but a marriage is a marriage is a marriage.
quote:
In fact, the very notion that "separate is inherently unequal" requires a structurally racist frame of reference.
Erm, by virtue of being seperate? Unless the seperation happens purely by accident (as you might be able to argue in the recent bussing debates). I'm not sure I understand why that wold be a racist frame of reference?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Practically speaking, isn't everyone still going to call the civil union a marriage?
I imagine there are some obnoxious jerks who would refuse to do so.
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noel
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OR,

To maintain that seperate facilities necessarily infer inequality, one would have to look at the human component to find the disparity. By definition, this is what a racist does as a matter of course.

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noel
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Tom,

I am, unapologetically, one of those "obnoxious jerks". [Smile]

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OceanRunner
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quote:
Originally posted by noel:
Tom,

I am, unapologetically, one of those "obnoxious jerks". [Smile]

But how would you know if anyone had a civil union without a religious wedding or not? Would you just abstain from referencing marriage, weddings, or spouse unless you attended the wedding in question or saw photos?

As is so often said on the intwebs, Pics or it didn't happen!

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DonaldD
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quote:
Adoption agencies will be subject to the same pressures that college admissions boards were following Brown, and yes, the ramifications were immediate, pervasive, and resulted in "affirmative preference".
Yes, this is true, except for the part about it resulting in "affirmative preference". If history is any indicator, then the people currently discriminating against gay couples will not immediately overcompensate in the other direction, in much the same way that many educational facilities fought tooth and nail against succumbing to equality reforms in education. To believe that blacks immediately became overrepresented in schools at all levels from kindergarten through graduate school is bizarre.

If you are saying that when people attempt to continue to discriminate in a way that now breaks the law, it is likely that the law will be used to address those actions, then, um, boo hoo?

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Jordan
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quote:
noel:
The "religious" proscriptions against adultery, homosexuality, incest, etc. have a basis in healthy human development. They are not, strictly speaking, religious. As Funean has stated, stability of a child's environment is a prime consideration. This is true, and it is not the only concern. A situation can be bad, and stable. Biology has hardwired some differences in the genders, and these differences have a very long history of success in sustaining, and securing, the species.

Noel, could you please be very specific concerning what is bad about having two same-sex parents?
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noel
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DD,

Discrimination *for* a party cannot happen without discrimination "against" someone else. You are conspicuously omitting an entire half of the dynamic.


Jordan,

Two same sex parents *may* be the best available alternative in a specific case. It will never be the optimum arrangement, because there are interelational, gender based, dynamics that are impossible to model for developing children without a (harmonious) male/female pairing. A similar problem attaches to single-parenthood, and step-parents.

If you have any serious doubts about that, I can go into more detail.

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MattP
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quote:
Two same sex parents *may* be the best available alternative in a specific case. It will never be the optimum arrangement, because there are interelational, gender based, dynamics that are impossible to model for developing children without a (harmonious) male/female pairing.
What is your support for this assertion? The vast majority of data used to support this type of argument comes from single-parent vs two-parent studies, not studies of same-sex parents vs heterosexual parents.
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Jordan
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quote:
noel:
Two same sex parents[…] will never be the optimum arrangement, because there are interelational, gender based, dynamics that are impossible to model for developing children without a (harmonious) male/female pairing[…] If you have any serious doubts about that, I can go into more detail.

I do, and would be grateful if you would. It is not that I have never heard this position stated, nor that I consider it to be outside of the realms of plausibility; rather, I just have not seen much evidence that the children of male-female parents have measurably better outcomes than those of female-female or male-male parents. A priori, it seems equally possible that two mothers might be a superior arrangement in terms of parenting outcomes.

[ September 27, 2010, 04:34 PM: Message edited by: Jordan ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Two same sex parents *may* be the best available alternative in a specific case. It will never be the optimum arrangement, because there are interelational, gender based, dynamics that are impossible to model for developing children without a (harmonious) male/female pairing. A similar problem attaches to single-parenthood, and step-parents.
He asked about same sex parents, not identically gendered parents. How is what you said meaningful given that most people probably don't conform to your gender stereotypes to begin with and have their own individual mix interests and personality traits? And that's not eve getting into the large number of people that are outside of the assumed binary to some degree or another.
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MattP
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There's also the separate question about discriminating in favor of some "optimal" traits while ignoring others. One can make an argument, for instance, that black couples are sub-optimal compared to white parents for some metrics of success.

Even if there were a measurable difference, accounting for all other variables (somehow), between the children of gay parents and those of straight parents, are those differences sufficient and consistent enough to merit discrimination based on them?

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DonaldD
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quote:
Discrimination *for* a party cannot happen without discrimination "against" someone else. You are conspicuously omitting an entire half of the dynamic.
No, you are continuing to miss my point. That there was a push in some areas towards 'equal treatment', that does not mean that in practice, this push actually corrected all the historic momentum and even brought about equal access, nevermind that it went beyond equality as you suggest will happen here.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Discrimination *for* a party cannot happen without discrimination "against" someone else. You are conspicuously omitting an entire half of the dynamic.
This is only true if there is no discrimination in the first place. Otherwise you are effectively say that no longer treating someone preferentially is somehow discriminating against.
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noel
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Matt,

We have become so accustomed to assuming that *discrimination* per se is negative. Family Court exists to discriminate... like it or not. It *selects* for parenting qualities in custody disputes. Occasionally parents are deemed unsuitable altogether. You are correct that single parent vs. two parent, and step-parent, studies are a primary source for my comments. It might save some time if you can state your objections, if any, to these.


Pyrtolin,

Your distinction between gender, and biological assignment is revelatory if you are headed where I think you are. As for race based discrimination, in a social context it is always wrong.


Jordan,

I think your conjecture that two mothers might be preferable to two fathers falls along similar lines of thought as Pyrtolin's allusion. Would you mind if we combined the discussion with that, and Matt's point?


DD,

I did get your point, you are missing mine I think. A "push" to correct the legacy of racial discrimination, with more racial discrimination, was never a solution as the last 46 years have proven.

It never went "beyond equality" because it never approached equality... affirmative action has always victimized somebody.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
Even if there were a measurable difference, accounting for all other variables (somehow), between the children of gay parents and those of straight parents, are those differences sufficient and consistent enough to merit discrimination based on them?

Wrong question. Anyone who bothers to read the news knows that there are gay parents who are in MF relationships and self-proclaimed straight parents who are in FF relationships.

And if you want to second-guess their declared sexual orientation, then how are you any better than the holy rollers that try to reprogram gays?

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