New Hampshire Can Please Gays and Straights in their Marriage Debate

February 7th, 2009 by Al Lewis (alewis)

With all the major problems the country faces, I hate to use up valuable electrons by bringing up gay marriage, but I do so only to solve the problem so it stops popping up on ballots everywhere and most recently in the New Hampshire state legislature, and diverting people from economic issues.   Being a social libertarian at heart, my personal opinion is that people should be left alone to do what they want as long as it does not harm others.


Here’s what you do.  First, two of the three New Hampshire bills agree that civil unions should be granted to gays, unions that preserve the rights of marriage.    Beyond that, opinions differ regarding whether that union should be called a “marriage,” or whether “marriage” should be reserved for heterosexuals.  The other bill would define “marriage” as a union between a man and a woman.”  Until the next paragraph, this first bill was in opposition to the other two.


But think out of the box for a minute.  There is a third way.  Before introducing the third way, consider some historical context:   in the early days of what was then called “women’s liberation” there was a debate over the use of “Miss” vs. ”Mrs.” to indicate whether a woman was married, while men had only “Mr.,” meaning that their marital status was not reflected in their title.   Rather than argue about whether the distinction for women should likewise be changed so that their marital status was not reflected in their gender title, a new title, “Ms.,” was introduced as an option.   Women could either have a marriage-neutral title, like men, or keep their marital status-specific title.   Today “Ms.” is part of the lexicon while some women still use the traditional titles, and no one thinks twice about it.


Why not do the same thing here?  Why not create a new word which can – at the couple’s option – apply to a union of either gays or straights, but with the same legal meaning as a marriage.  Perhaps – and we are not, uh, wedded to this word (no pun intended but if it were it would have been a good one) — call it being “wedded” instead of being married.     Gays may only be “wedded” while straights can either be “wedded” or ”married,” as they prefer.  That way, “marriage” is maintained as an institution uniting men and women only, while being “wedded” may involve any two people.    Straights who have no objection to gay marriage will describe themselves as being wedded while other straight couples will maintain tradition.   Hey, we are not wedded to the word, just the concept of the ThinkOOB “third way.”


Gays, then, would have exactly the same institution available to straights, while tradition is preserved as well.  True, radical gays and arch-conservatives will still oppose this ThinkOOB solution, but they are very small minorities whose voices will be drowned out by those who realize this is as good as it gets, solution-wise, and are ready to move on to solving more pressing economic problems.

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5 Responses to “New Hampshire Can Please Gays and Straights in their Marriage Debate”

  1. 3dollarbill Says:

    GREAT idea except i think maybe a different word easier to pronounce would be better. I think this debate itself embarrasses gays and creates tensions with straights. I like the idea of getting 99% of our cake and ending hte debate

  2. queerguyforthequeerguy Says:

    where has this been proposed and what has the reaction been? What have straight people said about it?

  3. dblacklock Says:

    I suggest the name “pairage.”


  4. Joe Says:

    The problem is that people who are against “gay marriage” are against any institutional recognition of a homosexual relationship, by any name. This is why the whole “civil union” thing never took off.

    Bigotry is one of those things that one never sees in one’s self, it manifests as a visceral reaction, and then confusion when others don’t share the same visceral reaction.

  5. alewis Says:

    I would agree that you can never please the extremists. What I am trying to do is, find a middle ground that people who are oK with civil unions but not marriage will accept.

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