04 December 2009

What gives me the right to tell gay people how to live?

Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston had a "relationship" that spanned 16 years. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn have reigned as Hollywood royal couple for 26 years and counting. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been "together" for five years and had three (biological) children.

For generations, the moralizers for Hollywood have dismissed the importance of "a piece of paper" to validate their love. True love, we were told, didn't need some government license, or, heaven forbid, a phony stamp of approval from some antiquated church.

Right?

Well, you can take it up with Rosie O'Donnell and Kelli Carpenter. Or Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. Because now, it seems, the only thing that matters is that piece of paper.

But whose approval do they need, and why?

I am instinctively inclined to favor separation of marriage and state. My marriage is sanctioned by the Catholic Church, from which it obtains its only legitimacy. The government license is very much secondary, and entirely irrelevant to the sacrament of matrimony. At the same time, I am sympathetic to arguments that there is a compelling state interest in protecting the best interests of the children. In other words, marriage laws, at their heart, are not at all about marriage, they are about protecting the next generation that will sustain our society.

Whether or not one accepts that this reasoning is sufficient to justify state involvement in marriage, it is difficult to conceive (pun intended) of any other state interest in adult relationships. Everything in a marriage, except children, can be governed by contract, entirely outside of the marriage license.

Yet, children are never a consideration in a gay "marriage." Never. No lesbian or male homosexual couple can ever conceive a child.

Proponents of gay marriage licensure argue as if such a license is a benefit. It is not. It is a burden. It is government intervention. And believers in freedom understand that government intervention must be justified by a compelling state interest. I have yet to hear what compelling interest might enable me, a taxpayer and voter, to have any say over gay relationships.

Because if it is licensed by the state, if it's a matter of law, then I have a say. The government is in your bedroom. But here is the thing: I don't want to be in your bedroom.

So I ask: if you want me to be able to set rules for your relationship; if you want me to regulate what happens when you break up; if you want my opinion to to have legal bearing on your private behavior; please, tell me why.

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