SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
The other day I was telling someone the issue of gay marriage had become too politicized, which is true. However, all issues have become too politicized, including politics.
I used to be against gay marriage, for one simple reason: Haven’t gays been punished enough?
I also used to have a little photo of a white-clad bride, with the caption, “Why do I have to get married? I didn’t do anything wrong!”
You gay people out there, you know who you are: What are you thinking? You have a readymade excuse to avoid marriage: It’s illegal! Commitment phobia? No problem: “Oh, sorry, dear – my idea of expanding my dating pool never included meeting everyone in cellblock B.”
But I no longer make such anti-marriage jokes, because … well, because now I’m married.
On the other hand, I’m a humor columnist, and it’s my job to make fun of stuff, and things.
On the third hand, I’ve looked into both sides and I understand their arguments, and their feelings on the issue. Can I make fun of people, even when I find their arguments persuasive and understandable?
Still, you can understand my reluctance to address the issue, even now after the Supreme Court struck down a Federal law against gay marriage. It has everyone dancing, rather flamboyantly, in the streets. I have friends who are gay. I assume I have other friends who are gay that I don’t know about, since it hasn’t been too long since there were more gays in the closet than too-small clothes.
So joking or not joking, I’m afraid I’m going to have to take the libertarian position on this one: Take the government out of marriage.
Should the government be involved in decisions of morality? Well, yes. Is crime a moral issue? Disaster relief? Vice-Presidential IQ tests? The Federal government is grotesquely obese and should be put on a crash diet, but it does have its purposes, and those purposes often do include making decisions based on some kind of a moral line.
But marriage shouldn’t be one of them.
Marriage was around long before the USA, and will be around long after. Generally, marriage has always been between a man and a woman, yes, although I believe a few Roman emperors married their horses. It’s safe to say that marriage has usually been wedded – pardon the expression – to religion. However, that’s led to such things as forced marriages, not to mention it being difficult to divorce in those
times when it really is the best thing to do.
But proponents of gay marriage point out, quite correctly, that there are other aspects to it. Gays with long time partners (as well as straights who chose not to marry) can find themselves paying more on taxes and health insurance, losing out on death benefits, being banned from seeing their partners in medical facilities, and losing control of their partner’s belongings and burial details on death.
Okay, that was two paragraphs of no funny, but I had to lay down the basics. Now, let’s go to my idea, which will solve all the problems. It’s an idea I came up with years ago (and I’ve heard it from many others since), but didn’t write about because I couldn’t make it funny.
(That bodes ill for the rest of this column, doesn’t it?)
It’s a compromise that would solve all the problems, which pretty much guarantees that nobody’s going to like it. But that’s okay: Nobody who makes actual decisions listens to me, anyway:
Civil unions for everyone.
The government gets completely out of the wedding business. Instead, if you want to be legally wed to your wife/husband/partner/second cousin/farm animal of your choosing, you go to the courthouse and get a civil union license. (I’m kidding about the farm animals. They can’t sign the paperwork.)
The civil unions would be legally binding, and make you a couple under the law. You could get insurance, tax breaks, joint custody of the test tube babies, hospital visitation rights, and in-laws. Hey, I didn’t say it was all good.
Marriages would go back to the churches. You want to get married to someone of the same sex, that’s fine: Just find a church that approves of gay marriage and will perform the ceremony. You can get married in whatever way you prefer, if the religious institution of your choice approves of it. Marry a guy, girl, one of each, your rich Uncle Murray, yourself, whatever. Since the government isn’t involved in it, what do they care?
You can have a civil union and get married. If you don’t care about the legalities, you can just get married – it won’t be recognized by the government, but they’re getting worse and worse at recognizing anything important, anyway.
Do this, and all my friends will be happy: the conservatives, the gay rights advocates, and the conservative gay rights advocates (there are some). The most important affect: I won’t continue getting an ulcer whenever I try to debate this internally and figure out a way to make everyone happy.
Because I just did.
Well, everyone would be happy except for two groups of people: The ones who insist on having it completely their way, who – let’s face it – are never happy; and the ones who were looking at an excuse not to get married.
You people in that last group, just man up – pardon the phrase – and learn to say no. But don’t tell your significant others I said so.
I’m sure the rest of us will find something else to fight about.