Re: :: Celibacy: Everyday Presentations

Lief M. Hendrickson (hendrick@NOSC.MIL)
Mon, 18 Dec 1995 08:59:50 PST

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).

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.