A lot of people think that gay couples should be happy with civil unions or domestic partnerships and stop complaining that they aren't allowed to call their relationship a "marriage" (these are, by the way, the same people who don't think we should have civil unions in the first place). They argue that since in some cases (such as Washington state) these domestic partnerships give full legal rights to those couples (which is in itself a fallacy thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act), there is no reason to demand marriage equality.
But marriage is more than a word with a dictionary definition. Marriage has legal and cultural implications that get intentionally ignored by opponents of gay marriage. To illustrate the point, let me ask my straight readers: how would you feel if you were married, and someone suddenly told you that you could no longer refer to your marriage as such, or to your husband or wife as such? Would you not feel that something special was being taken away from you, like your relationship was somehow being deligitimized?
Civil Unions: A Love Story, recently posted by Ben Smith over at Politico, illustrates perfectly how deeply marriage is engrained in our society. The idea, essentially, is that you never hear a little girl talking about how much she wants to be unionized civilly, or an old couple talking about the trials and tribulations of civil unionization. And lest we forget our favorite movie, "My Big Fat Greek Civil Union."
Yes, marriage is more than just a word, much more. We need to let all people, regardless of sexual orientation, partake in the joys of marriage, and the legal and cultural recognition that comes with it.
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