Opponents of gay marriage say that it is in the best interest of the family, the state, the nation and humanity itself to protect the traditional definition of marriage as a strictly procreative institution between one man and one woman. They say redefining the word “marriage” at a state or federal level will undermine the purpose of marriage itself and (somehow) devalue existing heterosexual marriages. Furthermore, opponents say allowing same-sex couples to marry will inevitably lead to state-sanctioned polygamy, incest and bestiality.
Now, I am no biologist—how exactly does redefining marriage as a union between one person and one person lead to polygamy, incest or bestiality? That depends on the definition of person, some could say. Well, of course, but is it necessary to include such taxonomical designation in our civil rights legislation?
Liberal lawmakers and talking heads scoff at such reckless exaggerations, but these scare tactics work better than we unclassified, displaced homosexuals would like to admit. Rights are not always guaranteed for minorities, and especially not for homosexuals, who do not have minority designation under the law.
The only quasi-logical justification for protecting the “traditional,” binary definition of marriage is that it ensures continued procreative success for our species. That sounds innocent enough—after all, survival is in our nature, and children of intact nuclear families are statistically better off than “other” children. “Other,” as generalized by Prop 8 proponents during the appellate session, can be defined as children of one or more gay or straight, divorced, widowed, disabled and/or handicapped, unemployed, alcoholic and/or drug-addled, abusive and/or neglectful, single and/or multi-parent households.
If we are to believe these arguments, I propose that we treat them with an equal measure of conviction and absurdity. So, for the sake of posterity, let us accept the premise that people marry to create a family. What would it mean to write such logic into law?
If we define marriage (strictly) as a state-issued license between one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation, and if that guarantees the continued existence of the human race, by all means, write it in stone. I will be the first to sign a petition that guarantees our survival, but we have to be consistent. If we are to implement a federally issued, state-regulated, morality-based mandate on traditional marriage, our parameters must be clearly defined, with no margin for interpretation.
First, states must revamp the marriage application process to weed out ineligible couples. Besides being of “sound mind,” applicants must submit to fertility testing to verify their physiological, reproductive ability. Fertility tests can be administered at the probate court when submitting other required vital records; external test results can be accepted if obtained no more than six months prior to the application date and notarized by an approved clinician and one witness. Applicants found to be infertile and/or unable to produce offspring will be denied based on any or all of the following criteria (includes medical history): erectile dysfunction, previous or expected hysterectomy/vasectomy, low sperm count, ovarian/testicular cancer, certain mental and/or physical disabilities, sterility, menopause, previous miscarriage or abortion, tilted uterus, terminal illness, venereal disease, or traces of birth control in the blood.
In addition, couples must sign a pre-marriage contract relinquishing their rights to divorce, separate, annul, or otherwise terminate their marriage. The contract will also require couples to produce no less than one child every three years. DFACS will conduct unannounced investigations to determine contractual fulfillment; derelicts will be arrested and charged with child endangerment and obstruction of justice. Under no circumstances can the pre-marriage contract be revoked, voided or dissolved; the contract will expire upon the death of one or both applicants. Fertile widowed persons may remarry.
This is all ludicrous, of course, but it illuminates a larger issue. The debate about marriage equality is hardly a debate at all. Arguments against equality are simply arguments for continued ignorance, bigotry and homophobia.
It all comes down to this: states issue marriage licenses, not the church or the federal government, and it is unconstitutional for either the state or federal government to regulate one’s unobtrusive pursuit of happiness. If procreation is the only factor differentiating opposite- and same-sex couples, why not require it? Other than procreation, what is the point of marriage?
Marriage represents so much more than procreation. Firstly, it is a declaration of love between two people. Secondly, it is an easy way for federal and state governments to divvy out privatized extended benefits. When someone marries, divorces, adopts, births or dies, the government simply needs an easy way to say whom gets what and how much.
Besides, getting married is easy in most states; you do not even have to be in love. Vital records in hand, I could propose to a female stranger on the street and the state would rubber-stamp our marriage without hesitation or delay. In an instant, I could be legally bound to a woman with whom I share no connection whatsoever, and she would automatically reap the benefits of being my wife (i.e. Social Security, tax deductions, inheritance, guardianship and hospital visitation rights).
This raises the question—seriously, someone explain to me—of how a loveless, meaningless union to a complete stranger is better than my real marriage to a loving, nurturing, forgiving, honest man with whom I have chosen to build a life?
Is it because we are gay? Is it because we flail our hands when we are excited? Is it because we take care of each other when we are sick, and that just makes you sick? Is it because we choose to be gay and flaunt it?
I take it back—keep your haphazard rationalizations to yourself. Some stranger’s “traditional” heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than mine, nor is my big, “in-your-face” homosexual marriage any better or worse than theirs.
That is the only argument worth making, and it is the only discussion worth having.
(c) 2013 Jeffrey Garris