It’s not about marriage

I’m speaking, of course, about the “gay marriage” issue currently in front of the 9th Circuit. The proponents of California’s Proposition 8 would have us think that the issue is about the “sanctity of marriage”, procreation, and child-rearing. This is nonsense, legally speaking. The state has no interest in defining what is or is not “sacred.” The real issue here is equal rights.

As currently implemented, the state-sanctioned concept of legal marriage (we are not talking about sacraments here) conveys certain special rights; including tax breaks, rights of visitation, inheritance, and child custody. The denial of these rights to couples based solely on their gender is clearly unconstitutional. It’s really as simple as that. All the moaning about “traditional concepts” and “welfare of the children” is a smokescreen, that one, in many cases, suspects of covering up plain old bigotry.

It may be easier to understand the essential point if we remove all the loaded language. Let’s try it this way: If the state is going to sponsor a “special status”, and allow persons to qualify for this status on a voluntary basis, then the state needs to be non-discriminatory in how it grants this status.

On the other side of the coin, my argument implies that if the state eliminated all the special “perks” associated with a marriage license, then there would no longer be a legal basis for challenging the discrimination against same-sex couples. I’m not sure if that is true — there may be another type of argument based on the public recognition aspect — but I am not prepared to discuss that at this time. In any case, I don’t think this circumstance is likely to arise.

I suppose my attitude may be disappointing to those who are focused on the romantic and religious aspects of marriage, same-sex or otherwise; but in my opinion, these have nothing to do with the state. People who feel a need to have the state validate the “sanctity” of their vows are already over the line on the whole church/state separation question. But that’s a rant for another day…

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