Re: :: Celibacy: Everyday Presentations

Parm Grewal (pgrewal@GOPHER.CHEM.WAYNE.EDU)
Tue, 19 Dec 1995 19:14:05 -0500

On Mon, 18 Dec 1995, Lief M. Hendrickson wrote:

> On Dec 16, Donna Lanclos wrote:
> >I suppose I was just trying to be more specific, and to be clear about
> >what I consider the word "spouse" to connote (perhaps I should have used
> >the phrase "long-term" rather than "lifetime.") What might be insulting
> >in Mr Graber's typology is the implication that same sex partners are
> >not, in fact, spouses, since homosexuality was included in his typology
> >of celibacy.
> Are same-sex partners really "spouses"? The traditional definition is
> a heterosexual monogamous partner who has been publicly and legally
> acknowledged by a prescribed ceremony (i.e. the wedding) and procedure
> (i.e. filing for a license). Can a same-sex partner cause society to
> afford them the same definition by emulating the formalities? They
> certainly can not come close to emulating the underlying structure of
> combining their DNA to produce another human being (yet anyway- though
> it's been advocated along with test tube babies).

Mr. Hendrickson

Being a heterosexual man, I have difficulty in your definition of
"spouse", especially the "heterosexual monogamous partner" aspect. Could
you please clarify what the term spouse has to do with ceremonies,
weddings, filing for licenses? It seems you may have confused Western
forms of a bonding ritual with the term spouse. A more true definition
may be husband "OR" wife, that is to say "a married man" or "a married
woman" but not necessarily to opposite sexes. With respect to your last
point about about society changing it's mind, it seems if this is the
same society who put such social constructs on the word spouse, then it
can also change them. Society is dynamic.

> This is not to say procreation is the only basis for having a
> "spouse", but it is certainly is a component and a very important
> possibility- whether symbolic or real- even if the option is not
> exercised- either by choice or by biological malfunctions. This is
> the basis of the true definition of the term. Appropriation of the
> term in some sectors does not automatically change the meaning for
> society at large. Rather then muddying the water by derivative usage
> of terminology, I suggest we use a more general term to say what is
> really meant. "Sex partner" won't do. "Significant other" has been
> used. I'm sure there are others.
What is really meant? and do people still have free will?


Parm Grewal- The opinions expressed are mine, they may or may not reflect
those of my employer.