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Stop the debate, end marriage

People Respecting Individual Diversity and Equality (P.R.I.D.E) held mock same-sex weddings on campus Wednesday in an effort to illustrate the injustice of the gay marriage ban.

These marriages are non-contractual and not recognized by the state. However, regardless of the event’s legal significance or seriousness, the group may have unintentionally shed light on an important point — that as far as the state is concerned, marriage is defined by a legal contractual obligation and nothing more.

In Florida, the only prerequisites for legal marriage are that the persons are adults of the opposite sex who are not directly related and not already married.

Support for same-sex marriage is based on implacable principles of social justice. In comparison, opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in social conservatism and uncompromisable religious beliefs.

As such, the best solution for “protecting” marriage, as well as ensuring social equity, would be to eliminate it altogether — at least legally. This would make all marriages technically lawful in ceremony, but not recognized by law.

This compromise may not eliminate the conflict between opponents and supporters of gay marriage, but it will eliminate the possibility of blaming the government for individual choices and cultural designations.

This position forces those who take offense to same-sex marriages to voice their concerns against a social issue rather than a legal one. Prohibiting the legal recognition of all marriages will allow those with concerns about the sanctity of marriage to acknowledge whichever weddings they choose — by arriving at their own personal or religious definitions.

The emotional worth of a marriage ceremony is solely dependent on the affections and passions of the individuals desiring matrimony. The authenticity of love is not beholden to legal precedence or moral zeitgeists.

There are practical limitations that must be considered before abolishing the legal institution of marriage. Tax benefits, shared assets, child custody and medical visitation rights are among the items affected by marital status.

Fortunately, retroactively changing the term “marriage” to “civil union” while ensuring the same legal benefits easily solves this problem for both sides.

Regardless of the practicality of this proposal, it proves there are more solutions than simply allowing or prohibiting same-sex marriage.