A Next of Kin Relationship

In “An Unfinished Life”, there are two wifeless but heterosexual men who are very close. They are so close that one of the other characters assumes that they are lovers. But they’re not. And that’s good, because if there’s one thing I don’t want to see it’s Morgan Freeman having sex with Clint Eastwood. The movie is worth seeing. Jennifer Lopez looks good as always, and if you do fly other way, you might like the cowboy hats.

With or without sex, two people can be closer to each other than they are to anyone else. They could be injured war buddies who are unable to have normal relations; They could be old friends, each of whom has lost their husbands; Or, possibly, they could be gay lovers. The point is, nobody has to ask. Why couldn’t two people who are closer to each other than any member of the opposite sex, and are committed to sharing their lives together, enjoy the benefits that come from a next-of-kin relationship?

The various domestic partnerships that have been proposed as a substitute for gay marriage received hostility from anti-equal-rights advocates because even though they weren’t called “marriage”, they were framed as a marriage with a different name to appease homosexuals. The hostility was hateful and wrong, but it was powerful. And the way the domestic partnerships were framed as vehicle exclusively designed for gay couples meant that they would not be used by others who could, and should, be allowed to take advantage of them.

I would call the relationship a “Next Of Kin Agreement” or something like that. I realize that there would be little more than a semantic difference between that and a “domestic partnership”, and I realize that most of the people who would take advantage of it would be gay lovers. But framing the debate differently would support gay couples while allowing other deserving people to take advantage of a legal acknowledgement of their relationship.

I also realize that my timing for this post is pretty lousy. It’s too late now to prevent the travesty that has occurred in Virginia, a wide sweeping law which not only prohibits gay marriage but anything “bestowing the privileges and obligations of marriage”, even if granted in a different state. But if the issue comes up again, maybe we come up with something even better and more inclusive than what marriage equality advocates were hoping to achieve in the past.