Long: Government has no reason to deny gay marriage

Craig Long

I was reading the news the other day and saw that Washington state is readying to change its stance on gay marriage. They’ve had civil unions as an option to gay couples since 2009, and now they’re going to officially make things equal.

In the article, the president of the National Organization of Marriage, one of the myriad of anti-gay marriage organizations found nationwide, was quoted as saying that his organization was not going to allow for the “bedrock of civilization” to be redefined.

It seems like every time I read about this topic, an organization like the National Organization of Marriage or the Family Leader (led by Iowa’s own Bob Vander Plaats) has some illogical reasoning for denying marriage to homosexuals. Be it religion, sanctity of marriage, reproduction or that it should be up for popular vote, none of them make sense.

Let’s start with religion. I was raised a Lutheran and when the discussion comes up with my mother, this is often the first reason raised. Putting aside that most religions teach that people should be open and accepting to those who are different and/or outcasts in society, there is absolutely no reason that this should be considered.

The government isn’t in the business of endorsing a religion. Look at the First Amendment if you’re unclear on that point. If religion is the purpose for the government denying marriage, it is in violation of the First Amendment. If the government allows gay marriage, they do not force any religion or church to recognize it. Religions are free to do as they please, as they always have. It simply enables homosexuals to freely exercise their ability to get married without being unduly interfered with by a religion that may not be their own.

The sanctity of marriage doesn’t hold up well either. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 1,000 persons in the United States in 2009, there were 6.8 marriages and 3.4 divorces. So for every two marriages, there was one divorce. Sacred as a cow in India, isn’t it?

No-fault divorces have existed since 1969, when it was first enacted into state law in California. They’re available in every state now and require only a single petitioner to dissolve the marriage, without having to show a reason for the divorce. With laws like that on the books, no claim of “sanctity” can stand. Not when you can go to Vegas, get married after a night of drinking and divorced the next day for a few bucks and no reason.

Even if you could call the institution of marriage sanctimonious, the government has no reason to preserve that. It only must act in its best interest and the interest of those it governs. The government has an interest to treat all of its citizens equally and to promote a high standard of living for all of its citizens, and this would go a long way toward that objective.

Now, it’s no secret that gay couples can’t (naturally) reproduce. But that isn’t the point of marriage, nor is it the sole reason why the government extends benefits to married couples. If it were, then having kids would be a requirement for marriage. But many couples decide not to get married for a multitude of reasons. There would be no reason to recognize marriage after children were grown either. That would be a fun discussion to have with my grandparents, whose last child moved out nearly 30 years ago.

While I wouldn’t argue that marriage is a “right,” it’s still something that needs to be protected from popular vote of the people. Marriage is, when it comes down to it, a private contract between two people that is sanctioned by the government. There is no reason that the public should have a say on them.

Put in a similar situation, you would scream bloody murder. Imagine if a popular vote was held, and the majority decided that women shouldn’t be allowed to drive because the popular perception is that they don’t drive as well as men. Or that men should not be allowed to cook because it isn’t a traditional man’s job. The government is designed to protect those who are in the minority from the whims of the majority. Marriage should be no different.

When it comes down to it, none of these reasons are logical reasons for denying the ability to marry to gay couples. The government, the important party in this discussion, has no reason to deny it. So unless you can venture a new and logical reasoning, stop using these tired excuses. Let every happy couple reap the governmental benefits of marriage regardless of their gender.