Do The Seven Laws Permit Civil Unions?

Take the "Sex" Out of It: Rabbi Yirmeyahu Bindman, in The Seven Colors of the Rainbow: Torah Ethics for Non-Jews, notes that the Seven Laws of Noah forbid homosexual behavior as they do incest, adultery, bestiality, and some other sexual practices. Moreover, "no one can legislate any change to permit them." No surprise there. But there is a question of whether one should support anti-sodomy laws, which generally are not going to be enforceable or even desirable as a symbol in a country which doesn't cotton to telling consenting adults how to live their private lives. On the other hand, it seems to us that much of the impetus for protecting "gay rights" verges over into a desire for some societal endorsement of a specific sexual behavior. To be sure, there are some practical issues at work. Why should someone be denied the right to designate another person as their primary visitor to their hospital bed? Why shouldn't they be able to designate the person of their choice as their beneficiary or to share property with that person? Why shouldn't they be able to form a household with that person? Of course, currently they can make such arrangements through various mechanisms. But domestic partnership legislation would make it easier. And we have no objection, as long as such legislation doesn't define the nature of the relationship in sexual terms. Why should my barber, who has pooled his money and credit with his twin so that the two of them can each buy a home, be prohibited from forming a legal domestic partnership with that twin? It seems like the same issues apply--except for the need to have their relationship somehow endorsed by the state. Why is endorsement of particular sexual practice (beyond, possibly, marriage between opposite-sex couples) the job of the state? Think about how weird the extension of such a principle could get. We think that taking the "sex" out of the domestic partnership question is a compromise that solves a number of problems.
Schueller House.

No comments: