Sunday, December 14, 2003

Here's a simple solution for gay unions: Call it 'pairrage'

American citizens who happen to be gay are, if nothing else, entitled to be free to unionize in any way they choose - so long as their choice does not violate any other citizen's right. But to allow a gay couple to marry violates the rights of married couples to be in a class by themselves.

It would be just as unacceptable to allow one to demand to be classified as a doctor, lawyer or disabled without fitting the accepted criteria.

The flap over gay marriage might be resolved with a simple change of terms. Marriage is recognized in most jurisdictions as the legal union of one man and one woman. Perhaps if we coined the term "pairrage" to mean the legal union of two men or the legal union of two women, we might solve this dilemma.

The clergy and others licensed to perform marriages who wish to join couples in "pairriage" would be required to undergo state certification to perform this new legal union. Such certification should include training particular to counseling couples planning to be pairried.

Establishing a specially defined and separate term takes nothing away from the institution of marriage while authenticating and legalizing the affiliation of pairriage.

One of the main objections to an official sanction of legally pairing same-sex couples under the term "marriage" is the fear of opening a Pandora's box.

Chief among those are certain contractual rights now acknowledged for married couples that would automatically revert to same-sex unions if they were allowed to be "married."

However, if we legalize a new term, then those who have elected to pairry will not automatically qualify for such contracted rights as tax breaks, surviving spouse rights, health care benefits and other such entitlements.

Legitimized as a distinct class of citizens, pairried couples would, however, have the power to lobby for their own special rights.

Additionally, by legitimizing same-sex unions with definite parameters, another fear is negated - the possibility of other such legal joining together such as man/man/woman, man/woman/woman, man/beast, etc. Establishing "pairrage" makes sense for our society.

Chuck Klein, Downtown

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