Thursday, November 20, 2003

Gay marriage is a topic wired with explosives

Peter Bronson

Whenever I see a headline about "gay marriage,'' I get this sinking feeling. It's always the same story.

There's a photo of a loving, caring, monogamous lesbian couple, raising adopted orphans. "We only want the rights given to everyone else,'' they plead.

On the other side, buried deep in the story, is an opponent of gay marriage, with a quote like an anthropology lecture: "Marriage between one man and one woman has formed the foundation of civilization for thousands of years.''

It's emotion vs. logic.

And logic has about as much chance of surviving this debate as a slice of crisp bacon at a meeting of Atkins Dieters Anonymous. In our Oprah-fied culture, blubbery emotion must be fed. So the definition of marriage that has outlasted the Great Pyramids and crosses more cultural, geographic, religious and ethnic boundaries than the Great Wall of China is crumbling under the slow drip of "I want.''

"It puts us at a challenge,'' says Ohio Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, sponsor of a Defense of Marriage Act. His bill, scheduled for hearings this month, reinforces the existing Ohio definition of marriage as one man and one woman. "If we respond equally emotional, self-righteous and moralizing, we lose. We have to be like Sgt. Joe Friday - just the facts.''

Seitz says the strongest argument is that 38 states and the federal government have already passed such laws. If Ohio doesn't do the same, it could be forced to recognize homosexual unions approved in Vermont and Canada, and now Massachusetts.

His bill wouldn't block private employers from providing benefits to gays. But it would protect Ohio from being forced by the courts to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

Seitz says the state has a duty to protect heterosexual marriage, "without which the species ceases to exist.''

If homosexual marriage is allowed, "The question then becomes, what other practices are we going to legitimize?'' Seitz says.

Public officials have been burned at the media stake for daring to point out the obvious legal truth: Once the barrier that defines marriage is kicked down, nothing is left to stop polygamy and deviant "lifestyles'' between consenting adults.

Polls show most Americans oppose gay marriage. Support comes mainly from liberal courts, Hollyweird and the media. But debate is stifled by a minefield of craters and barbed wire.

"They will demonize us,'' said Seitz. He's been through it before, when his bill passed the House two years ago and was blocked in the Senate. "It will be the usual litany of names: homophobic, nasty, moralistic, narrow-minded, self-righteous and bigoted. I'm going to try to take as much emotion out of it as possible.''

That's fine in the political arena. But in the WWF ring of public opinion, book-smart logic loses the smackdown.

Maybe opponents should instead point out the likely victims of free-for-all marriage: children. Marriage has been battered by rising divorce, co-habitation, politically correct "domestic partner'' benefits, welfare policy and a culture that winks at infidelity, even in the White House.

The ones who suffer are children in fractured families, stuck in poverty, failing in school, slipping into crime and teen pregnancy.

You can say marriage is defined by God or biology. Defying either one is just asking for trouble.

E-mail or call 768-8301.

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