March 12, 2010

Don't split the difference on same-sex marriage

— There are issues on which both sides can split the difference and come away with a deal that everyone can live with.

At this point, same-sex marriage is not one of them.

State Rep. Les Fossel, R-Alna, has admirably tried to bridge the gap between people who want to extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples and those who do not.

His solution, a package of rights that married couples now enjoy assembled under another name for same-sex couples, is one that will satisfy neither side. The measure is well-intentioned, but would provide an unnecessary distraction in the midst of an already intense public-policy debate.

A domestic partnership law is the wrong place to start the discussion. Those who object to the state applying family law norms to same-sex relationships see it as a way to sneak gay marriage into the law books.

Those who support same-sex marriage view it as a less-than-equal legal status that does not carry one of the most important benefits of marriage -- its universal recognition.

In a school, hospital or courthouse, everyone understands the family relationship of marriage and the rights that go with it. A new institution with an unfamiliar name would not have the same weight.

We support full marriage rights for same-sex couples because we believe it they are entitled to equal protection under the law. Marriage is the best building block for stable, supportive families, and families led by same-sex couples should have same legal rights and obligations as those led by heterosexual couples.

Obviously, others disagree.

But a discussion of marriage equality is the public-policy debate that we should be having. It is not something that should be sidestepped with a preemptive compromise.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)