The same, but different?

This is a controversial non-parenting topic, and before I start I want to say that I am seeking to understand, that I can be convinced by rational argument, that I am genuinely interested in different opinion. So please don’t flay me.

Right, here goes.

So this week the US Supreme Court has started hearing a case on same-sex marriages.

Now, from what I’ve read it seems the original case is about estate taxes – two women were in a partnership, one passed away, and the other had to pay huge estate taxes. Whereas if they had been a heterosexual couple, no estate tax would have been due.

From a purely tax point of view, this looks like fairly clear discrimination.

So fine, put same-sex unions on the same legal footing as regards taxes, benefits etc.

But, and here’s the big but, does this mean that we have to redefine ‘marriage’? Can we not keep that word for heterosexual couples, and use ‘union’, ‘partnership’ or some other word to describe same-sex couples?

In the UK, it seems that the answer is likely to be ‘no’. The current Conservative government is pushing to redefine ‘marriage’, even though there are already ‘civil partnerships’ which are on the same legal footing as ‘marriages’.

But why? I ask myself this question again and again. Heterosexual couples and same-sex couples are similar in many many ways, but they are also ultimately different in gender. So can we not keep the age-old word ‘marriage’ in it’s original meaning, and use a different word for same-sex unions, as an acceptance of this difference?

After all, as some have argued, it’s just a word.

But it’s a word which holds a lot of emotional significance for many many people.

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