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
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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