Friday, October 17, 2008

*DEFINING MARRIAGE THE PB&J WAY

The opponents of Proposition 8 are trying to redefine a word that has represented a union between a man and a woman from the beginning. It’s amazing that our society thinks we have the right to change the meaning of something that nature is so clear about defining. Only a man and a woman can create a child. We call their legal commitment to each other and to their children “marriage” and it has always been thus.

There’s an analogy that sounds kind of silly but clearly makes a point. Changing the definition of “marriage” is kind of like trying to redefine a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you put peanut butter on one slice of bread and jelly on the other and then you put the two slices together. Suppose someone were to come along and say, "I don't like jelly! Just use peanut butter on both slices of bread—but I still want you to call it a peanut butter and jelly sandwich." PB&J simply doesn't describe the new sandwich. You can't redefine a PB&J just because you like the way this name sounds better than calling your new sandwich a “peanut butter and peanut butter sandwich!” It's a different combination and it needs its own term.

Opponents of Prop 8 have tried to frame the need to redefine the term “marriage” as a civil rights issue. Consider the often-aired commercial where the bride is trying to make her way to the altar, but she keeps encountering obstacles. She trips over cans tied to the back of a car; a flower girl tries to block her way; a wedding guest trips her with a cane. Finally, after someone restrains the groom from going to the bride's aid, these words come up on the screen: “What if you couldn't marry the person you love?” Someone unfamiliar with California law might think, "Oh my gosh, how horrible that the state of California refuses to acknowledge the rights of two people that love each other to be joined together, regardless of their gender!” That commercial very cleverly misguides people. It leads them to believe that Proposition 8 is going to prevent same-sex couples from creating a legally binding union with all the rights of traditional married couples. That's not what this is about! Same sex couples in California that would like to commit to each other legally have been able to do that for years. We call it a “domestic partnership.” By California law, domestic partners have all the rights and privileges of married couples. This vote isn't going to have any affect whatsoever on these legally guaranteed civil rights. This vote only applies to what we call that union. Opponents of Prop 8 want to change the recipe for their peanut butter sandwich but still call it a PB&J. But a PB&PB will never be the same as a PB&J.

2 comments:

CNJ said...

Just wanted to get your opinion on an idea that may or may not be a good approach. I have heard about people searching for proposition 8 in google and then clicking on the “yes on prop 8″ or “no on prop8″ paid ad links multiple times that appear at the top of the search results in google. Each time someone clicks on these links it is costing that campaign money. I guess clicking on the “no on prop 8″ ad is costing Hollywood stars like Ellen money they donated to the no on 8 campaign. I imagine if you were to break out the donations made to each campaign that the yes on 8 campaign’s donations have been made by at least twice as many people as the amount of people contributing to the “no on 8 campaign”. The majority of donations made to the “no on 8″ campaign have been made by Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt, Ellen Degeneres, and Steven Spielberg. Don’t forget the CTA, is it a bad idea for people who feel betrayed by the $1.2 million donation made by the CTA to fight back by clicking on the “no on prop 8″ paid search link multiple times each day? What do you think……

SearchCz said...

You can count me among the folks who appreciate a good PB&J sandwich. But even if you think PB&J is the best sandwich ever, it would be ridiculous to insist that its the only kind of sandwich people should be allowed to make. Or that its the only combination that should ever be referred to as "a sandwich".

Yet that's what these "marriage defenses" amount to - people who rightly appreciate all the things that are good about the lifelong union of husband and wife unable to comprehend or accept that same-sex pairings are substantially similar. I wouldn't say "identical" - but substantially similar.

We call a peanut butter sandwich a "sandwich" without pause. Likewise a BLT, a Monte Christo, a Turkey Club, a Grilled Cheese; all "sandwiches".

I've yet to see a cogent reason why the term we use for the commitment a couple makes to each other - and to their community - needs to be reserved for male-female couples. Especially keeping in mind that:

1) some of these couples will remain childless by choice or circumstance

2) many same-sex couples are raising children ... children who would benefit from their parent's legal commitment

3) if having kids is the differentiator that warrants a special term, the word "parents" should suffice?