Those who follow the serious debate on gay marriage know that Jonathan Rauch and David Blankenhorn have become the two most responsible voices on their respective sides of the issue.Â Last week, these two adversaries teamed up to offer A Reconciliation on Gay Marriage in the New York Times.Â And for once, the Old Gray Lady serves the role she would like to serve, as a source of intelligent discussion on controversial subjects.
While Rauch and Blankenhorn disagree “on the merits of gay marriage,” they do “agree on two facts:”
First, most gay and lesbian Americans feel they need and deserve the perquisites and protections that accompany legal marriage. Second, many Americans of faith and many religious organizations have strong objections to same-sex unions. Neither of those realities is likely to change any time soon
They recognize the “parade of horribles” about which proponents of Proposition 8 warned us in their successful campaign last fall to enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in the California constitution. Both men want to ensure that religious organizations are not required to recognize unions at odds with their doctrines.
Thus they favor federal recognition of same-sex civil unions with “with robust religious-conscience exceptions:”
Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill.
I have hesitated to blog on this because, well, I’m not sure I agree with their solution. And I guess I feel that if I blog on something I must express an opinion.Â Well, I do have an opinion.Â And this is it. It’s refreshing to see two adversaries on gay marriage work together to forge a compromise which recognizes the concerns of both sides.
Neither brands the other a hater or moral degenerate. Each man understands the other’s arguments. Together they come up with a novel solution. And that’s the real good thing about their proposal, finally some new thinking on this controversial issue.