It’s a bit old now, but I just came across Roger Olson’s proposal to put an end to the same-sex marriage debate. Olson argues that we should
reserve marriage to the churches and other religious organizations…[and] let the government issue civil union licenses to any two people who desire such a relationship which gives them certain privileges in the eyes of the law (e.g., joint property)… [On this arrangement,] each church would decide who they recognize as really married. (Just as they do who is really ordained or really baptized.) A church would not have to recognize as married every couple that has a civil union. And the government would not recognize a church’s marriage as a civil union. The two would be entirely separate–just like church and state are supposed to be.
You can read the rest here.
This two marriages proposal isn’t really new. It’s the position I’ve held for several years now. I first heard it from Tony Campolo when I was in college. And Tony Jones’ related manifesto is now available on kindle.
But here’s my question: Would this proposal, if it won out, really put an end to the same sex marriage debate? That is, would the constituents at either extreme of the spectrum be happy with it? I suspect not, but it’s worth asking the question.
To my conservative friends: Would you be happy to allow the state to give tax breaks any other privileges to whomever would chose to commit to partnership, provided that we agree that what the state is doing is not marriage, but something different all together. If not, why? Especially now that many social conservatives joined also in the fight for a smaller government, why not put our money where our mouth is? Why not take the power of defining marriage away from the government?
To my progressive friends: Does this proposal, which would level the playing field in terms of government privileges, really give everyone a fair shake? If not, why? Especially for my LGBT friends: Do you feel—this is my uneducated theory—that this still leaves unanswered the question of whether the government will sufficiently recognize (honor?) same-sex unions?