Re: ::: Celibacy: Everyday Presentations

Lief M. Hendrickson (hendrick@NOSC.MIL)
Mon, 18 Dec 1995 15:04:01 PST

On Dec 18, Micheal Ashkenazi wrote,

>Re the "spouse" question of homosexual partners. It seems Lief is
>somewhat behind the times. In quite a few countries (Sweden, Denmark,
>Israel, and I believe elsewhere, homosexual partners are recognized
>LEGALLY as spouses, e.g. as having a material and continuing interest in
>their partners, including social benefits.

Oh please, this has nothing to do with my being behind the times-
which may or may not be true. If you look back, I referred to the
traditional meaning of an English word. The countries you cite do not
use that exact word in their language. Futhermore, what is done by
people in different parts of the world does not change the meaning of
words in the English language as applied by people to customs in their
own English speaking country- which was what Dorothy was referring to
in her rush to keep homosexual sexual people's feelings from being
hurt by not being considered in the same category as traditionally
married people. I'm well aware of various social movements to further
the stature of people with alternate lifestyles, and I am not
commenting pro or con on such activities. I simply recognize
subterfuge when I see it. Spouse has a certain meaning which isn't
changed simply by emulating some of its attributes.

The word spouse comes from the Latin past participle of spondere, to
pledge. This does not mean any two people who exchange mutual pledges
are considered spouses. The term has a legal and social definite
meaning notwithstanding attempts to appropriate its usage. Whether
any particular two people should be afforded the same benefits from
society without being spouses, per se, is another issue. Some say
they should, and some employers now extend medical insurance coverage
to same-sex partners. That creates quite a morass of issues of
whether the "partnership" has a sexual or economic basis, but we'll
let the insurance companies worry about that.

There has long existed the means for any persons to establish a legal
"material and continuing interest" (quote from Micheal Ashkenazi
above) in their partners via contract law. Any two persons can form a
partnership expressing joint ownership in all their worldly goods and
bequeath right of survoirship to the other. The possibities of
contractural arrangements are endless and easily cover anything any
partners could want with regard to their behavior with respect to each
other. However, no amount of legal verbage can turn them into
something they are not. Two same-sex partners are not spouses in the
traditional sense of the word which has its basis in the origins of
the family. (Yeah I know, what is a "family" anymore? But you know
what I mean- or do you?).