The UK recently joined the small number of truly civilized countries that recognize love wherever it may be found, along with fairness and equality for all. You may remember it as the day that Elton and David tied the knot.
Currently, civil marriages between same sex couples are legal nationwide in The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with civil partnerships — equivalent to marriage in most particulars — existing in several European countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK) as well as in the U.S. states of Vermont and Connecticut, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia, the Australian states of New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania (the Australian Capital Territory recognizes domestic partnerships with the same rights as civil unions), New Zealand and the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dozens of other countries and states worldwide are considering legislation, determined to make places for themselves in the 21st Century.
This groundswell has failed to materialize in many areas of the United States, and is unlikely to do so until the conservatives are out of power. The reason? Business.
Most of the countries that now recognize civil unions or same sex marriage have also adopted sensible health care and retirement systems. In the US, by contrast, the NeoCons and their business partners have developed and are attempting to implement plans that will dismantle the existing systems, replacing them with individually funded retirement, and medical care via private insurance companies. They want to funnel all that money into areas that will most benefit the business interests that they consider their true constituency.
Equal rights for partnerships outside the current legal definition of marriage would be a disaster for those plans. Suddenly, domestic partnerships — both homosexual and heterosexual — would be eligible for joint medical insurance, retirement plan survivor benefits, tax benefits (including benefits for couples with children), spousal inheritance benefits, and more than a thousand other privileges currently restricted to couples joined in heterosexual marriage as defined by Federal laws.
Hundreds of billions of dollars would be drained away from business and business-friendly government programs such as wars. The argument that this would destroy the economy conveniently overlooks the fact that those funds would find their way into the system anyway, only through the choice of their rightful beneficiaries instead of the businessmen and their bought-and-paid-for political supporters.
The religious right, fast friends and partners of the NeoCons, have duped their followers into believing that the controversy surrounding this issue is about protecting the Sanctity of Marriage. A couple is either one in the eyes of God, or they are not, and no pronouncements by human beings will ever be able to change that, no matter how sanctimonious they may sound. The marriage protection issue is a non-starter with everyone but non-thinkers, who are happily being led by their noses down the garden path and out of the garden by the hypocrites who stoke their visions of being The Chosen.
The economic stakes are gigantic. Gay marriage is a money issue, not a moral one.* Those concerned about morality need to consider whether their efforts serve the God of Love, or the Demon Mammon.
*Morals are about opinions; ethics are about people.