RG06.2 Domestic partnerships in Oregon

Oregon begins this week offering domestic partnerships to gay couples that will be by law in every way equivalent to marriages. It’s a step but not a solution, because neither side of the controversy is satisfied at the moment. Advocates for same-sex marriage see the domestic partnership as a new sort of segregation (“separate but equal”) that will give them their legal rights but preserve the social stigma — they’re not “really married.” Defenders of traditional marriage will counter that even this step legitimizes relationships they believe will eventually undo civilization, dissolving into a cesspool of Caligulan orgies. They have vowed to continue to fight back. People in the middle, as is so often the case, have little to do but watch. But here’s a way to make the issue relevant to all of us: legalize domestic partnerships for heterosexual couples. If the right wants to join the effort, they can insist that the state start substituting domestic partnership licenses to anyone who has already been married and then divorced or annulled that marriage. If only first-time marriages are preserved as marriage and all others are deemed domestic partnerships, the social stigma would quickly fall away.