In a discussion on a "marriage defense" blog, I asked the questions, "Is defending traditional marriage more important than assuring that gay people and their families are not fully accepted into society? Would you trade supporting age-appropriate educational tools (such as the book "Heather Has Two Mommies" and movies like "Southern Comfort") for teaching your children, and prominent, visible support for the passage of ENDA and fully equal civil unions(including federal tax benefits and interstate recognition) on your blogs, for visible support from LGBT people in opposing the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex marriage?" My intent in asking the questions was to clarify what the opine bloggers priorities are in regards to marriage equality for gays, i.e., whether protecting marriage was top priority, or whether protecting society from the "gay menace" was priority and that's merely one aspect of the anti-gay agenda.
OnLawn offered in reply a compromise on gay marriage. ("A compromise means both don't get everything we want, but we work together to find some ground in the middle where they both get what they need. Where there are direct incompatibilities, there each need their own space to afford their own values and ideals.") To summarize:
- Gay people can become Reciprocal Beneficiaries, which essentially means the states pass a law that grants any two adults who are restricted from marriage by law "access to a limited number of rights and benefits on the state level."
- No age-appropriate educational materials reflecting LGBT families in schools.
- No federal protections for LGBT people from employment or housing discrimination.
- It's not clear whether OnLawn would allow the reciprocal beneficiaries to extend to the federal level.
OnLawn is a Mormon, a member of a group that has survived plenty of persecution, violence, hate, and discrimination, some of which lingers on today, but most of which is in the past (thanks in part to civil rights legislation protecting folks from discrimination based on religion), such as when the Mormons were driven out of Illinois. So I'll assume that OnLawn is familiar with the effects of discrimination in a personal way, and, in that spirit of compromise, I'll offer this:
- Mormons may no longer marry each other, but they may enter into reciprocal beneficiaries with each other.
- No educational materials mentioning Mormons will be allowed in schools.
- Mormons will be exempt from civil rights legislation protecting individuals from discrimination based on their religion.
- Mormon reciprocal beneficiaries will be recognized at the federal level, granting full rights of tax equality, inheritance, guardianship of children, and so on.
Of course, this is an academic question, as neither of us has the power to enact any of these elements beyond our votes – and, regarding my own suggestions, almost nobody, including me, is interested in effecting any of them. Also, I'm philosophically opposed to compromising on human rights, justice, and equality – not that there isn't room for all to have their needs met, and to have an equal place at the table. However, perhaps this will open a dialogue where we can both really hear what each other needs, and find a way to deal together toward finding that solution that meets all needs. This compromise deals with specific strategies for meeting needs, and I'm totally open to hearing other strategies; I don't insist that the strategies I believe will be effective be implemented, if others can accomplish the same thing in a way that better meets the needs of "marriage defenders" or gay people or preferably everybody. If this leads to a dialogue that clarifies what needs are/aren't met by different strategies, may it be blessed.