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Gay Marriages Would Violate Equal Protection
by Nicholas Jenkins, The Fence
25 November 2003

The problem with legalizing gay marriage for "equality" reasons is that it would require opening the floodgates to polygamy and would allow straight heterosexuals - who are just friends - to use the facade of marriage in order to reap government benefits.

Black guy and a white guy walk into a restaurant. They see strawberry ice cream and mint ice cream on the menu. White guy orders the strawberry ice cream. Black guy orders the mint ice cream. Waitress says black guy “sorry sir, we’ve been out of the mint ice cream for a week.” Jonesin’ for the mint ice cream, black guy demands an order of mint ice cream. “Sir, we do not have mint ice cream,” says the waitress. “I can, however, bring you some strawberry ice cream.”

Now furious, black guy bolts out of the restaurant, hops a yellow to his lawyer’s plush digs, and promptly files a discrimination suit against the restaurant. Their cause of action: the restaurant violated his right to mint ice cream.

Now substitute “gay guy” for “black guy” in the above scenario, and substitute spousal choice for the bowls of ice cream. (I am spouseless, so I can get away with the comparison.) And there you have the essence of today’s gay marriage debate. It isn’t about equal rights. It’s about special rights.

Fact is, homosexuals have the same rights as today as heterosexuals. The law does not allow either of them to marry someone of the same gender. It allows all of them to marry someone of the opposite gender. What can be more equal than that?

Ah yes, but gays don’t want to marry straight people, you say. Fair enough, but that just means that gays choose not to exercise their rights. Lots of people don’t exercise each and every one of their rights. But that doesn’t mean they can't. In fact, gays choose to marry members of the opposite sex all the time. Those are called “sham” marriages. Rumor has it there are lots of those in Hollyweird.

But if society allowed gay marriages, it would do so at the expense of equality. Gays could marry gays and - as before - heterosexuals could marry heterosexuals. And gays could still marry heterosexuals. (That’ll relieve many a Hollyweird publicist I’m sure.) But – and here’s where it gets dicey – heterosexuals could not marry other heterosexuals. Unless, of course, we allow all same sex marriages, including marriages between a couple of skirt-chasin’ drinking buddies who may or may not be roommates.

Ah, but so what, you say. No straight guy worth his Maxim subscription would ever marry another straight guy. And I mostly agree. I doubt we’d see crowds of straight folks banging down the courthouse doors, and I sure as heck wouldn’t do it. But in a world where parents still let their kids watch Teletubbies, it isn’t out of the realm of imagination. I could see, for example, a couple of lower-income, fifty-something lonely hearts "marrying" each other so one could piggyback on the other’s health insurance. Or receive government benefits like Social Security and Medicare. Or take advantage of income tax deductions. Or get tuition discounts at certain institutions. Neither would have to take the other’s name. Heck, they wouldn’t even have to live together. In fact, save the marriage license, a straight marriage could be almost invisible on the proverbial street.

Ah, but there’s a difference, you say. And that’s love. Homosexual couples love each other (in theory) – buddies don’t. That’s all good in theory, but I’ve seen best friends love each other more than many a married couple I know. Even newlyweds. They don’t sleep together, to be sure, but then neither do lots of married couples these days. Besides, if marriage no longer requires a man and a woman, why should it hold on to that antiquated requirement of (often-feigned) love?

There’s more. If we allow buddy marriages, polygamy is just around the corner. After all, in a polygamous relationship, all parties are consenting adults, just as in a gay marriage or a straight marriage or a buddy marriage. Polygamists don't have the numbers the homoexual lobby does. But a few invocations of the ever-expanding-and-never-contracting "right to privacy" would undoubtedly convince a few judges of the unassailable truth of their position. And judges don't need to worry about annoying matters like the law -- they can make it up.

Ah, you say, there’s an easy answer to all this. Just don’t allow same sex marriages except between gay people. We could do that, but it then we wouldn’t have equality then, would we? Gays would be permitted to marry anyone -- straights would be limited to the opposite gender. That would be akin to serving the black guy any ice cream he wanted, while limiting the white guy only to strawberry ice cream. So if equality in the eyes of the law is what matters, then along with gay marriages must come buddy marriages. And when that happens, well . . . we might as well start letting cats marry dogs.

Equality is, after all, the whole point, right?

If you still believe gay marriage has anything to do with equality, don’t answer that.

Nicholas Jenkins is a recovering lawyer and the founder of The Fence, an internet community built for opinionated people.

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