Pittsburgh Domestic Registry a Good Idea

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bruce Kraus has introduced a proposal to City Council that would take a step toward getting the State out of the marriage business by setting up a “domestic registry“.

“Friends, straight or gay couples, cohabitating seniors and others could walk into the City-County Building, show evidence of their ‘mutual commitment,’ and come away with official recognition of their relationship under a proposal introduced by Pittsburgh Councilman Bruce Kraus yesterday. The proposed ‘domestic registry’ would allow certain city employees to share their fringe benefits with partners, and other employers could opt to treat registrants like married couples. More broadly, it would allow almost any two city residents to ‘legitimize their relationships and families,’ as Mr. Kraus put it.”

This is a good start. The important part from my point of view isn’t about gay couples, but friends and cohabitating seniors. It shouldn’t matter why two people choose to share their fortunes, only that they so choose. The bit about legitimizing relationships and families is where I part ways with Kraus, though. Here’s where I think he goes off the rails:

“‘It makes us a much more desirable location for young, bright, cutting-edge people who want to come in and live in progressive areas,’ said Mr. Kraus, who is openly gay. ‘It really is about being a good place to attract progressive employees and employers, and grow.'”

Attracting “progressive” employees is of absolutely no importance to me. Attracting good citizens who wish to set roots in Pittsburgh is. This shouldn’t be about furthering progressive ideals or recognizing gay relationships. This is about civil liberties and the freedom to choose the person with whom you will share your benefits.

“Under the legislation, any two unmarried city residents — unless they are related too closely to be married under state law — could apply with the city Personnel Department. They would have to show three pieces of documentation of ‘mutual responsibility,’ which can include loan papers, utility bills, insurance policies, wills, powers of attorney, contracts, motor vehicle titles, bank or credit account statements, or evidence of shared child care responsibility. They then would pay $25 to be certified in the ‘mutual commitment registry.’ The designation would apply until one party either presented an affidavit ending the relationship or died.”

This seems to be exactly the kind of contractually binding civil union I’ve alluded to. It’s also very similar to the solution the University of Pittsburgh found for gays demanding the ability to share benefits with their partners. IIRC, the university requires affidavits to recognize and cease recognition of domestic partnerships.

The only obvious flaw in Kraus’ proposal is that the state of Pennsylvania restricts how closely one may be related to one’s spouse. This isn’t a marriage, though, and close relations would be hurt by this restriction. For instance, two elderly sisters couldn’t register themselves as mutually committed despite sharing residence and financial burdens. Still, this is a good start toward getting the State to restrict itself control of contract regulation and enforcement, the Church to regain control of marriage, and the People to regain control of their lives, their liberties, and their property.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

7 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Domestic Registry a Good Idea

  1. Mark Rauterkus


    Also, what about a mom and a child, just as two who are siblings. Seen it. Happens. But, I guess they have ‘rights’ anyway. “next of kin”

    But generally, in the Bruce Kraus world, questions that begin with “why” and “how” are wasted breath. He is generally clueless as to the logic and deep-thought elements that drive principles.

    His best course of action is to say as little as possible. If he only did more an talked less, he might save face.

    I have other reservations too. Frankly, I don’t like the expansion of government.

  2. Funky Dung Post author

    It seems pretty mild as government expansions go. In fact, I’d hesitate to call it an expansion at all because it relates to contract law, whcih should be the primary concern of the State.

  3. gbm3

    In fact, I’d hesitate to call it an expansion at all because it relates to contract law, whcih [sic] should be the primary concern of the State.

    Yes, but what contracts should be made? I’m working on a post that gets into this. Many of the ideas I’ll probably talk about are from here: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=1088 .

    In other words, in the old system, the state presumed the existence of a substantive, natural reality that required legal adumbration: the union of a man and a woman, and the children resulting from their sexual relations. Now the Canadian government sees that it must intervene and redefine marriage and parenthood in order to give fixed legal standing to otherwise fluid and uncertain social relations. When the gay friend donates his sperm to the surrogate mother hired by a lesbian couple, the resulting “family” is a purely legal construct, one that requires the power of state to enforce contracts and attach children to adoptive parents.
    The result is the opposite of the libertarian dream of freedom. As Farrow observes, with gay marriage we are giving over the family to the state to define according to the needs of the moment. The upshot, he worries, will be a dangerous increase in the power of the state to define our lives in other realms once thought sacrosanct. “Remove religiously motivated restrictions on marriage,” he writes, “and it is much easier to remove religiously motivated restrictions on human behavior in general, and on the state’s power to order human society as it sees fit.” The libertarian dream turns into the totalitarian nightmare. Who can or cannot be a spouse? That’s for the state to decide. To whom do children belong? It’s up to the state to assign parents as its social workers and judges think best.

  4. John

    This would seem to be a contraction of government powers. You are stripping it of the ability to regulate marriages and instead giving it a different watered down version of that authority.

    Also, gbm3, you are utterly incoherent. You say that the only way to prevent the government from having the authority to control our lives as it sees fit is to ensure that it controls our lives in the manner that you see fit.

    You also make the tacit arguments that “Gay == Hitler;” which does not thrill me.

  5. gbm3

    Also, gbm3, you are utterly incoherent. You say that the only way to prevent the government from having the authority to control our lives as it sees fit is to ensure that it controls our lives in the manner that you see fit.

    Before I respond, could you elaborate on this comment. To what (quotes of mine) are you specifically referring?

    You also make the tacit arguments that “Gay == Hitler;” which does not thrill me.

    Where do you see this argument?

  6. gbm3

    John, I’m also confused about your comment since I didn’t really say anything in this post: I quoted a First Things daily “on the square” thing above. What are you talking about (what quote of mine)? I’m also concerned (or something) since you used a Hitler analogy.

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