sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 15, 2006

a new name
posted by soe 10:12 pm

A while ago now, Erik and I were IMing about some of the court setbacks that gay marriage and civil unions have faced in the last few months.

I once again suggested that we change the concept of marriage altogether in the future. A civil union, open to any two unrelated adults, should confer all legal and governmental benefits — Social Security, shared custody of children, inheritance rights, hospital visitation, etc. — that are currently offered to married people. Marriage proper could be a religious ceremony, offered to certain (or all) people depending on the tenets of the church.

Erik, I believe, (Correct me if I’m misrepresenting your views here) agrees with this idea in theory. But he argues that “civil union” as a term seems very bland and businessy and second-class when compared with “marriage.” And what would one use as a verb? “Unionized” has a very different connotation. “Partnered” has platonic definitions that lends itself to confusion.

So we thought we’d open the discussion up to you. Is there a better term that we could start to use to connote all the romantic feelings that ought to accompany such a union while simultaneously and unambiguously explaining what sort of relationship one is entering into?

Category: gay rights. There is/are 1 Comment.


The word “marriage” has many many years of building up cultural significance.

To use an existing term would bring with it connotations that do not bear the same weight as the word marriage. To coin a new term will, at least for a few generations, sound like you are describing a new type of relationship. And being newer, it would feel like a lesser compromise even if it wasn’t.

Legally, a new term is destined to fail. The laws that exist today specify the rights, privliges and obligations of a marriage contract between two people. While you can try to make something that conveys all the same rights, the legal loophole is open because those preexisting laws aren’t about this new thing.

And that’s a hell of a lot of legal work created to reinvent the wheel. If you are going to create a legal contract that is everything a marriage is without any religious connotations, then call it marriage and you are done.

I may be suffering from an excessive lack of faith in the human race right now. I just discovered that people voting for the 2007 Meow Calendar felt compelled to cheat. How sad is that?

Comment by Grey Kitten 08.16.06 @ 3:14 am