That's what Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-125th District) is proposing in the wake of the New York high court's decision that the state constitution does not recognize same sex marriage.
"Let's get government out of the wedding business and have everyone, equally, have a civil arrangement," she said.
The proposal Lifton supports would replace the word "marriage" with "civil commitment" in state laws, creating a legal contract she said would be accessible to everyone, while leaving the religious aspect of the union to religious institutions.
"Why should state government become a religious institution?" she asked.
Ms. Lifton makes her idea sound so simple: it's just replacing one word with another, that's all. But it's much more than that. It fundamentally turns the institution of marriage, the union of a man and a woman before God and man, into nothing but an impersonal and emotionless legal contract akin to a business transaction. In other words, if gays can't marry, then no one can.
Stanley Kurtz at The Corner responds to Ms. Lifton's proposal:
And as we've seen with [Michael] Kinsley and [Jonathan] Turley, if we're no longer talking about "marriage," multi-partner "civil commitments" will surely follow. In any case, it wouldn't take multi-partner unions to make the abolition of civil marriage a disaster. Just removing public support for marriage as an institution would be damaging enough.
This proposal has no chance of passage right now. Yet it's a clear sign that as same-sex marriage spreads, more and more people (including traditionally religious opponents of gay marriage), will begin to look to the abolition of civil marriage as a "solution." This is the reality of what same-sex marriage has brought: not a strengthening of traditional marriage, but calls for its abolition.
Added: If this proposal were to pass, does that mean that a New York man will no longer propose marriage to a woman, but he will instead propose a civil commitment? Just imagine that scene: the man and woman are at a posh, romantic New York restaurant. He gets on one knee, presents her with a beautiful diamond ring, looks lovingly into his girlfriend's eyes and asks, "will you enter into a civil commitment with me?"
You may think I'm being ridiculous, but considering how the PC crowd has had quite a bit of success removing politically incorrect language (Merry Christmas) and behavior (praying in public school or any mention of God in public school) from public life, the passage of a proposal like Ms. Lifton's would give the PC thought police ammunition to work toward eliminating any mention of the word marriage from public discourse. Since marriage would no longer exist, the phrase "we're getting married" would be labeled "outdated and bigoted," not to mention meanspirited toward gay civilly committed couples because, as long as the term marriage was still used, it could cause them to feel like second class citizens. Instead the traditional institution of marriage would be relegated to people's homes and churches, absent from public life.
It may sound crazy right now, but I can see the moonbat left pulling something like this.