I see four different questions here:
What do I want from a legal agreement with a life partner?
What do I want from an spiritual bond with my mate?
What do I want from a religious agreement with my mate?
What do I want from the concept of my bond existing within my community?
The legal question is the one that is most at issue within the gay community right now - the right to both the RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of legal union.
What I want from that set of legal rights is pretty standard:
For my spouse to have power of attorney should I ever be disabled - so that the one who knows me best decides what I would most want for myself should I be too gone to be able to make that decision.
For my spouse to be granted custody of my children automatically if I die so that the person they know of as their other parent is still thier guardian.
For my spouse to inheret my posessions.
For my spouse and I to be able to make joint purchases or investments.
For my spouse to be considered "next of kin" and never seperated from me by hospital staff (if you've read stories of gay men who were blocked by heartless disgusted nurses (citing they weren't "next of kin" since there was no marriage contract) from attending the very DEATH of a husband they'd been with for years as he died..... it would make the very stones weep)
Of course for all of these rights to be granted to my spouse as well and for us to have to be responsible to eachother in all of these matters.
This list goes on - the legal rights of a couple are pretty well commonly understood. This is bascially the "bundled" bunch of legal agreements that are all contained within a conventional civil union. And, yes, these are all things I would want from a civil union for myself and my mate. These are the things I would fight for the rights of any committed adult relationship to have.
These things are not the RELATIONSHIP to me - they are ensurances that no agency can easily disrupt that relationship on a practical level so that we are safe to explore and live that relationship day by day in our own home.
What do I want from a spiritual bond with my mate?
I want to love and be loved. I want to be completely understood and to understand. I want honesty. I want to be made better, stronger, more compassionate, bolder and more deeply myself by the connection. I want the daily details of our lives to be woven together so that we know eathother on a visceral level. I want our souls to be nourished by one another. I want to be so deeply bonded to eachother that our souls may even be together in the next phase of existance.
THESE THINGS ARE THE RELATIONSHIP TO ME.
No state can give me these things in a certificate. No laws can keep me from having these things - though discrimination such as putting me in jail or killing me would make it hard to KEEP having these things - and to a lesser degree the discriminations of REFUSING to ensure me the conventional protections of legal union can also make it hard to keep having those things. THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO BUSINESS IN AIDING OR INTERFERING IN THESE THINGS THAT ARE THE HEART OF A RELATIONSHIP.
What do I want in a religious agreement with my mate?
To me this question is not seperate from the spiritual question. Since I believe in no diety or doctrine outside of the individual soul, there is no seperation between my spiritual connection and my religious one. They are the same thing - deeply personal and with relevance only to what I percieve on a spiritual plane. For those with a theistic or doctrinal religion, of course there would be a lot more to this question, and in our culture the word "marriage" most closely means this idea of union.
What do I want from the community with regard to my status as someone committed to someone else?
I want aknoledgement of our intentions. If we've chosen to let it be known that we're committed to stay together for life through every difficulty, I expect the community to assist us in that via friendships, ears to listen and hands to help and the expectation that we live up to our intentions. I expect to contribute to that community with my ears and hands and friendships as well, as the fulfillment of myself in that relationship affords me extra energy and love to help others when they need it. I expect our community to advocate for our rights as a committed couple to strangers. I expect to advocate to strangers for the values of our community.
I've been in a legal marriage that lasted a disasterous decade for both parties. I've been in a poly relationship (though I don't identify as poly by orientation I do advocate strongly for the acceptance of poly relationships as normal and possible). I do identify as a bisexual woman. And I have the kind of spiritual connection with my mate that I've described as what I would demand for myself of a relationship with my mate.
No one has the right to tell anyone else what committed relationship means to them. People need to delinate terms. I would never want marriage in the religious definition. I do want spiritual bonding, community support and aknoledgement, and the option to use the blanket of civil union to protect our rights as a financial and family unit. IMO its time to seperate the term of "marriage" from the legal, the community and the spiritual and let it stand for the religious committment.
See, this is what happens when I think about a thread for a whole weekend
*smooch* QT-HM Thanks for asking
*edited to ad I see a zillion Dvorak inspired typeos and weird grammar cause my brain works too hard typing in Dvorak.....its too late at night to fix them. Please do me a favor and pretent I sound well spoken, K?
AM, up to 42 wpm
Edited by ArmourMe, 16 February 2004 - 03:38 AM.