Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Gay marriage - what's all the fuss?

Your voice: Rich Schmaltz

As a married heterosexual, I'm struggling to understand all the fuss about gay marriage. Why are people so vehemently opposed to the idea that they call for an amendment to the Constitution? I haven't encountered an argument that justifies the furor over the subject.

Gay marriage is a reality - lacking only a legal sanction guaranteeing the complete rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples. The sanction here is legal, not religious.

The immorality argument rings hollow considering that alcohol, tobacco and gambling - the core of profitable American industries - are also considered immoral.

While there may be a religious foundation for this argument, I would prefer that the laws of my country not be manipulated by someone else's religious beliefs. (The founding fathers were Christian, but they set things up so that reason, not faith, would be the guiding principle behind our government).

Marriage is cohabitation. In general, married couples share a home, as do committed gay couples. Preventing this is illegal. Marriage involves public commitment - this is practiced by heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Parenthood is considered fundamental in marriage. Though more difficult, many homosexual unions produce children - through adoption, artificial insemination or surrogate motherhood. But to say a marriage is valid only if children are produced is ludicrous. Would we enact laws to forcibly divorce heterosexual couples who are, by choice or biology, childless?

Gay couples share checking accounts, mortgages and often health benefits. Missing from current gay marriages are survivorship rights and benefit guarantees, but the majority of what constitutes a marriage is already legal. What is the problem with sanctioning the rest?

Gay marriage will not affect our congregations. Many churches won't even sanction interfaith marriages - heck, a Catholic priest wouldn't baptize my son because I've been divorced. Churches are allowed to make these choices based on religious conviction.

If we are enacting laws to "defend" marriage, shouldn't that cover all "assaults" on this institution? Divorce would no longer be an option - not necessarily a bad thing, but it would never happen. Shouldn't that also mean that adultery would become a felony?

I love my wife. We define our relationship. If the couple next door happens to be gay, what we share isn't diminished.

With real challenges at home and abroad, it's odd that banning gay marriage is at the top of so many political agendas. You may ask why I get worked up over this issue if it doesn't affect me ... but isn't that the point?


Rich Schmaltz, a teacher, lives in Mason. He is married and has two sons.

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