The following was posted by Tammy Lynn Michaels, Melissa Etheridge's spouse, on her blog:
let's say i am wearing a baseball cap. now what if i want to call it a yamaka? you know- it's basically the same thing, but one is missing the sun visor. i don't call my caps yamakas… cuz that is a religious name for a hat that is worn by religious people. now if i apply that thinking to this situation…. i would like to think of it as…. if they afford us the EXACT SAME RIGHTS, then who cares what it's called? my friend joel can wear his yamaka. i can wear my hat. joel can light his menorah, i'll light my candle. joel can eat his matzo ball soup, and i can break crackers into my soup. joel and hanna can have a piece of paper with the word MARRIAGE on it, and all 1200 rights… and i can have a piece of paper with who-cares on it, and all 1200 rights. the word marriage is a religious, holy, word that people who go to church on sundays are told belongs to them. like yamaka, menorah, or matzo.
The point that I think that Tammy has missed is that “separate but equal” is seldom, if ever, truly equal – and there are Supreme Court decisions that confirm this (sorry, I can't source that off the top of my head). If some people have pieces of paper with MARRIAGE on them while others have pieces of paper with 'who-cares,' as Tammy puts it, then there will be other people and businesses that say, “We only recognize and (for example) give family rates/benefits/etc. to people who have MARRIAGE on their piece of paper.” The only way that this “two-paper” system can work is if the State decides to:
- Stop issuing MARRIAGE papers and only issue CIVIL UNION (for example and want of a better term) papers.
- Pass a law effectively converting all previously issued State MARRIAGE papers to CIVIL UNION papers.
- Pass another law changing all laws and legal references regarding MARRIAGE to read CIVIL UNIONS.
- Only recognize CIVIL UNION papers for legal purposes, regardless of whether the persons in question have Church issued MARRIAGE papers or not.
Thus MARRIAGE becomes a purely 100% religious term – as Rick Warren and others maintain – and the State can keep it's hands off of it and nolonger give any attention to its definition. Churches can still continue to issue MARRIAGE papers to whomever they want and by whatever rules they choose. Otherwise it's the 'LGBT-drinking fountain' and the back-of-the-bus for us.