Civil Unions, Gay Marriage, and Reducing Government Intrusion
This started out as a response to comments on civil unions in one of the posts on our affiliated blog, Light Up The Darkness, and ultimately became enlarged into this. It pointed out that Kerry's support for civil unions made this a topic of discussion on the old Kerry blog. This raises the question of whether we should continue to stress this issue. I'm not sure that discussing civil unions on the blogs (as opposed by politicians) makes much of a difference.
Bloggers (as well as people who read blogs) and general voters are different populations. Bloggers who oppose gay marriage are more likley to be extreme in their views and be just as opposed to civil unions. On the other hand, many on line supporters of gay marriage oppose the compromise of civil unions.
The general population is different, and more moderate. While perhaps not thinking of the intellectual justification of distinguishing the religious component of marriage from the legal, many do find civil unions to be acceptable. Last year, when the right used opposition to gay marriage in their strategy of winning from the far right, a majority supported civil unions. Here in Michigan, where an anti-gay marriage proposal did pass, polling also suggested that many who voted yes did not understand the extents to which the measure discriminated against gays.
While calling for civil unions is unlikely to have much impact in the blogosphere, it is possible that liberal politicians could attract support with this idea. It didn't work in 2004, but 2008 is a different year. Opposition to government intrusion in situations such as the Terry Schiavo case may make voters more accepting of arguments to live and let live with civil unions, while less likely to fall for the gay bashing from the right.
The answer to those who vote on "moral issues" is not to compromise principles, but to place these issues in a large context. Civil unions and gay marriage should not be a question of one's personal feelings about homosexuality, but a question of how far to allow the government to intrude in the personal affairs of individuals. The Terry Shiavo case has illustrated this issue for many. Now we need to extend this to defending gays from government discrimination and to right to choice on reproductive issues (including the purchase of contraceptives).