Simon invited me over for beerbraut the other day. His fiance Paige met up with us. The food was great, though the company less so (I swear, I’ll explain my anti-Paige thing soon). One of the things we talked about was anti-heterosexual discrimination.
It was an odd topic of conversation because it’s rare that any group in the majority can claim discrimination and that and even so we’re not the ones most likely to talk about it. Paige is a self-described bisexual and Simon and I both have pretty liberal attitudes towards homosexuality. But from their standpoint, they were being discriminated against because they are heterosexual.
Simon and Paige are, shall we say, indefinitely engaged. That is to say that they have no wedding date, it won’t be soon, but they both absolutely know that it will happen. But they need to get out of Deseret and away from his Mormon parents before that can happen.
The problem is that her new job very generously provides cost-free full health and dental to her, her spouse and/or her “lifetime partner.” The problem is that the last one is reserved solely for members of the same sexual persuasion. Since he’s got the tabs and she’s got to slots, they are ineligible unless they get married.
Rightly or wrongly, gays cannot marry. Therefore the only way that they can get benefits is for companies to create a special category. Since the government won’t recognize it, they have to have a sort of “married in the eyes of the corporation” outlook.
But it’s interesting that they choose not to extend this to heterosexual couples as well. The assumption, I suppose, is that if you’re “lifetime partners” then you should get married (gays are exempt from this expectation since they can’t). It’s not an unreasonable conclusion, though it puts couples like Simon and Paige in a the peculiar position of being disadvantageously straight.
But I can think of other examples from people I know that would fall in to this particular crack. One friend is waiting for his dying mother to pass on before getting married. Another friend’s divorce was prolonged for four excruciating years by a spouse with deep pockets, a good lawyer, and a reluctance to let things go. Some religions permit divorce but do not allow remarriage. Then there are those unreligious and anti-religion people that view marriage as too religious for their tastes.
So should Paige’s employer change their policy? Not my call to make, though it does point out some logistical difficulties of the “civil unions” compromise: Namely that if the right were extended to homosexuals, certain heterosexuals would want to be able to make use of that as well. One response might be that it’s an extention of another inequality that heterosexuals will just have to live with. But I have difficulty seeing it being left in a state that is at-all percieved to be discriminatory against the 90+% majority.
History, the notion of marriage as a legal entity is relatively knew. Permanent couplings have existed for some time as have the ceremonies celebrating the union. As written law became more and more prominent, as did legal marriage.
So marriage, at that point, became not only a matter of family and god, but family, god, and country.
In order to attract employees in the 20th century, companies began to provide more than a paycheck. Our employer-based healthcare system is a product of the employee-starved economy during and after World War II. Because what a family is and isn’t began to concern them (in the form of benefits, among other things), it’s somewhat natural that they, too, now define what constitutes a family.
Two can get married by a Justice of the Peace and not be married in the eyes of god (if they do not believe in one, anyway). They can also get married in the church and never turn in the paperwork, being unmarried in the eyes of the government. And now they can be married in the eyes of their employer and not in the eyes of the goverment or god.
I’m not sure why, but that’s just a strange thought to me.