Making the World Safe for Heterosexuality

There's nothing like an election year to bring out the true public service spirit of the Capitol Cronies.

For Sen. Don Nickles, R-Oklahoma, and Rep. Bob Barr, R-Georgia, the critical issue facing the country is not balancing the budget, reforming welfare , or restoring Medicare to solid financial footing. No, for these two dedicated public servants, the question that will seal the fate of this country's future is whether or not the federal governement will recognize same-sex marriages if legalized by one of the states.

Ever vigilant, these Southern legislators are deeply concerned about the potential impact of a pending court case that could pave the way for Hawaii to legalize same-sex marriages, and, in their minds, the road to hell for the United States. So, these two shining examples of civil service have introduced bills that would allow the states to not recognize those marriages and to deny the civil rights granted to heterosexual couples.

Of course, there is that pesky little passage in the Constitution under Article 4 that commands that "full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state." But, hey, this is an election year, and politicians can't be troubled by something as trivial and meaningless as the Constitution. After all, it's the image that's important.

Besides, why shouldn't the states have the right to refuse to recognize the legal activities of another state? If one of the states decided that two people who have known each other for 20 minutes shouldn't be allowed to get married, they ought to be able to ignore a marriage license from Las Vegas, right?

Despite efforts to frame this debate in moral or religious terms, marriage is a civil contract. That's why couples getting married have to apply for a marriage license. And, while the public ceremony may carry a tremendous amount of personal symbolism, without that little piece of paper, no state will recognize the marriage and all of the civil benefits it accrues. If a public ceremony constituted a legal marriage, there would be a number of same-sex couples enjoying the legal protections afforded a spouse.

If two people are willing accept the legal responsibilities and obligations that signing their marriage license entails, then they should be granted the freedom to exercise that option, herterosexual and homosexual alike. It is no one's place, especially government's, to question the validity and sincerity of the commitment between two people who choose to embrace each other as spouse simply because they are the same sex. That decision should be celebrated and supported by every means available, including the civil rights afforded a legally recognized marriage.


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