Picture for me, if you will, the following dialogue. The setting: a well-apportioned bedroom in a cozy home on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Laura: George, something just doesn’t feel right. Between you and me, I mean.
George: How so, punkin’?
Laura: Well, George, it’s as if our marriage has somehow ... lost some of its sanctity. I’m just no longer as committed to you as I once was.
George: Oh, now, Laura, don’t feel bad. The sanctity of our marriage has been diminished by the gays who are trying to marry each other. You see, Laura, their actions affect our marriage, even if the weddings are hundreds - or even thousands - of miles away. But don’t you worry, sweet pea, we’re going to protect marriages like ours from that threat, by banning gay marriage. Then all our problems will be solved.
Laura: Oh, George. You’re so smart (Laura smiles vapidly and falls asleep).
There you have it, my friends: the sad results of gay marriage. Because of this abomination, all over the country, husbands are cheating on their wives, parents are divorcing and babies are being born out of wedlock!
But then again, that was already happening. So let’s sit down and discuss the absurd notion of gay marriage being able to violate the sanctity of the whole institution, as is purported by many conservatives who are in favor of keeping loving couples apart. The idea is that since marriage is a holy institution, allowing homosexuals to participate in it degrades marriage for everyone. Therefore, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court declared gay marriage constitutional, or when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome allowed homosexuals to marry, it wasn’t just an affront to God and Christians and whoever else decided to be offended that day; it was detrimental to every single married person on the planet! That’s a whole different level of seriousness - this calls for an amendment to the Constitution.
The “sanctity of marriage” argument was a brilliant maneuver by many conservatives. If you’ll remember, dear readers, American civil government is founded on the premise that what your neighbors think of your life doesn’t really matter as long as you aren’t stealing their things or killing their dog; if we look at gay marriage for what it is, the union of two consenting adults into a lifelong commitment, there is no reason for gay marriage to be illegal. Certainly there may be some who disapprove of the lifestyle choice, but if we demanded that Congress outlaw every practice we found distasteful, no one would have time to sleep. (Currently I’m all in favor of passing an amendment against people who drive that suburban behemoth, the H2. We’re trying to decrease dependence on foreign energy, remember guys?) But that’s what’s beautiful about America: We consider the individual’s rights to pursue happiness (as long as it isn’t at the expense of anyone else) to be paramount, regardless of other people’s religious or cultural beliefs. Whether the couple down the street is gay, straight or from Mars should be of no importance to you, as long as they follow the rules of the homeowners association. And ordinarily, conservatives are all in favor of keeping the federal government out of people’s lives. But the thing is, to a lot of conservatives, gay marriage is really icky, and they just had to come up with a way to make gay marriage everyone’s business. And in a stroke of genius, all of a sudden “really icky” became “the end of marriage as we know it!” Something had to be done, think of the children!
“But Allison,” you’re saying, “aren’t there anti-gay passages in the Bible?” Well, gentle readers, that is a two-part answer. First of all, despite what Jerry Falwell tells you, the Hebrew word often interpreted as “homosexual” in the Bible isn’t one we know, though scholars of the language have recently posited that it’s closer to “masturbator” (advocate for an amendment against that, I dare you).
Secondly, do we, as a nation, really want to get into the practice of legally codifying everything in the Bible? Notice that the holier-than-thous of the Republican Party are conspicuously less zealous when it comes to the many other Biblical prescriptions for righteous living. Divorce is a prime example, especially for all the Christians out there: Jesus, who was silent on the issue of homosexuality, spoke out directly against divorce and said it was akin to adultery. Yet somehow it’s the gay marriage that destroys the sanctity of marriage. Golly - if I didn’t know better, I’d say these guys were protecting their own self-interests!
Nah, couldn’t be. But before I leave you, my chickadees, let me plant one more thought in your heads to swim around for a bit. Why is it that drunken fools can get married in Las Vegas after a night of gambling and debauchery, divorce the next day and have no discernable impact on the institution of marriage, but two people of the same gender in a years-long, monogamous, committed relationship destroy it? Are American marriages really that flimsy?
Allison Meredith is a junior in the School of International Service.