A Word In Edgewise: I Now Pronounce You…

The discussions roil on about whether to hold out until legalized same-sex pairings are called “marriages” or to yield to the separate-but-equal “civil unions” terminology if that will allow the unions to happen.

Personally? I think that every legal joining of two consenting adults in our society should be called a “marriage,” whatever the division of their X and Y chromosomes.

However. “Marriage” as a term still meets greater resistance than “civil union.” “Civil union” reflects biased thinking, but if it’s the open sesame to 500+ state benefits and protections, why not? Once same-sex wedded couples enjoy equal rights with straight marrieds, then is the time to tackle the semantics. (Not to forget that until the DOMA at the Federal level is abolished, 1,138 rights, benefits and protections remain unavailable.)

The distancing “civil union” nomenclature is reminiscent of what female children have long endured having their accomplishments, however outstanding, labeled, “Not bad for a girl.” It’s only demeaning if you let it be. Many little girls have done and are still doing amazing things; think Madame Curie, think Hillary Clinton.

In a prophetic sea change, the venerable AP (Associated Press) has announced that it is revising its style-book, the bible of numerous magazines and newspapers worldwide, to include “a single standard when referring to gay and straight spouses.” Nathanial Frank, in his Los Angeles Times article, notes the “entry for “husband, wife”: “Regardless of sexual orientation, ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. ‘Spouse’ or ‘partner’ may be used if requested.”

This would mean, as I understand it, that even if a gay couple is joined in a state that admits only civil unions, if their wedding is written up under AP guidelines, they will be husbands and wives, terms the opponents of same-sex marriage have yet to render into semantic topiary.

I write this on the day that the new bill to legalize same-sex marriage is being unveiled at the Capitol. Gays and lesbians, one can see in this issue, continue to wed, to have homes and families and to cherish one another. One day their marriages will be deemed legal by our society as well as by the one who created all men and women.

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