February 3, 2004

It's easy to make fun of the folks in Georgia who don't want schools to use the word "evolution" when teaching science:
New middle and high school science standards proposed by state Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox strike references to "evolution" and replace them with the term "biological changes over time," a revision critics say will further weaken learning in a critical subject.

But how different is it, really, from proposals to resolve the gay marriage issue by using the term "civil unions" instead of "marriage"? In both instances the state is catering to the sensitivities of persons with traditional religious values. Here's Chris Matthews interviewing Howard Dean on Hardball last December:

MATTHEWS: For all practical purposes, whether it's Vermont or New Mexico, is there any difference between civil union and civil marriage? For practical reasons.

DEAN: Well, in terms of legal rights, no, there is not.

MATTHEWS: So why are we quibbling over a name?

DEAN: Because marriage is very important to a lot of people who are pretty religious.

UPDATE, Feb. 4: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court writes: "The dissimilitude between the terms `civil marriage' and `civil union' is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status."

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