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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

What marriage is really about

I want to preface this by saying that I am happily married with a young son. I am saying this so everyone understands that I have no hidden agenda or vested interest in the decision passed down today by the Massachusetts Supreme Court on gay marriage. For those of you who missed it, the Court ruled that civil unions are not equivalent to marriage and that gay and lesbian couples must be allowed to marry in the state, with all the benefits and responsibilities thereof.

Good. I am glad someone has finally said something that needs to be said in this country. There is NO reason that two adults who love each other should be kept from marrying each other.

This decision will undoubtedly cause mass hysteria in many parts of the country, who equate gay marriage with Armageddon. And no doubt religious conservatives will call for the "sanctity of marriage" to be preserved, and various commentators will say we're one short step from polygamy and incestuous marriages being legalized.

Of course, these doomsayers are completely and totally insane.

Two men or two women getting married and benefiting from that relationship affects these bigots how? What personal impact does it have on them? Does their house fall down? Their car's engine seizes up? Food doesn't taste as good? What actual, measurable negative impact will gay marriage have on society? None. People won't start fornicating in the city streets and wearing leather chaps while quoting Walt Whitman simply because two men who love each other have the audacity to actually want to legally commit to each other for life.

The people who claim the "sanctity of marriage" is at risk miss the point entirely. If a man cheats on his wife (as numerous conservative political and religious individuals have), is that marriage still sanctified? If a man beats his wife, is that marriage still sanctified? I say no. Because the sanctity of marriage isn't bestowed by the gender of the two adults coming together. The sanctity of marriage is formed by the love and respect the two people share for each other. As long as that exists, then that marriage is sanctified. Being a gay or lesbian or heterosexual couple doesn't add or subtract to the strength of the marriage. How they act and treat each other is what counts.

And the "argument" that allowing gay marriage will open the door for the recognition of polygamy, incest, bestiality et al. is even more ridiculous. What we are talking about here is allowing two non-related adultsto marry one another. It's not a redefinition of marriage. The fact that they may be the same sex is irrelevant. The key here is "not related", not the gender. Otherwise, you are essentially arguing that marriage is a contract entered into for procreation. So what if a women is barren or a man impotent? They can't have children. Should they be allowed to marry one another or someone else? If you believe gender, and by extension procreation, is the essence of marriage, then the answer is "no". Of course, that is as stupid as keeping gay couples from marrying.

And for the love of God, please do not start talking about how the Bible condemns homosexuality. I could easily fill another page talking about how anti-gay bigots have twisted the Bible to fit their agenda. I simply leave this part of it with two statements. One, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is not about the evils of homosexuality. It is an admonishment against being inhospitable and not being kind to strangers. Two, Jesus never said one word about homosexuality. If it is such a sin in the eyes of God, I think his Son would have said a few words on the topic.

So what does the ruling mean? That's the million dollar question. It could become moot if the Mass. Constitutional Convention passes a "one man, one woman" clause and it gets passed by the citizenry on the 2006 ballot. Of course, since gay marriage has to be instituted by mid-May, that'd leave a year and a half of marriages that could be...voided? Grandfathered? Who knows? On a national level, the actions of the MA court could force other states to recognize gay marriage. Under Article IV, Section I of the US Constitution, "Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state." In other words, a gay couple married in MA must be recognized as married in Kentucky, Texas and every other state.

I must admit I am not a big fan of the judiciary setting public policy. It really isn't their arena. But there are times when society is so gridlocked or divided that it needs a shove in the right direction. Nationally we had Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. Now this ruling in MA forces us to tackle another important issue. And it's about time.

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