Wednesday, October 10, 2007
PACS On Both Houses
Confirming my belief that the government doesn't belong in the marriage business, a study on French civil unions (known as PACS) has found that the closer their legal status resembles that of marriage, the more popular they've become. Not just with same-sex couples, for whom the legal status was ostensibly invented, but also with mixed-sex couples. In fact, gay couples now represent only 7% of those seeking the PACS status. Since 2000, while marriages were declining by 10%, the number of couples getting PACS'ed tripled and now represents 25% of all heterosexual unions:
Similarly, the sociology of the PACS tends to imitate that of marriage. The average age of those entering a PACS, which went from 37.6 years old in 1999 to 31.5 years old in 2006, has approached that of marriage. Another common element between the two types of unions: The seasonality. Couples prefer to get PACS'ed in June and July. (Translated from the French.)
The idea that government recognize the same civil unions for everyone and leave marriage up to the individuals' chosen religious denominations is both fair and consistent with the principles of separation of church and state. But it also has the added advantage of being more politically palatable for people who don't necessarily have a bedrock position on the issue, but are simply uncomfortable for whatever reason with the idea of gay marriage.
Civil unions for everyone means marriage denied to no one. It also places the ceremony of marriage -- all marriage -- where it, as a religious ceremony, belongs: in the private sphere.