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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gay Marriage

I am dismayed that so many Republican candidates believe it is the duty of government to deny gays the right to marry. They call it “defending” marriage, as if gay marriage were somehow a threat to anyone. Are they afraid we are all going to turn gay? Or maybe it is just mean-spirited; they wish to make gays as miserable as possible.

The fact is that gays are going to continue to marry each other and live together, with or without state approval. Laws like California Proposition 8, to “define” marriage as between a man and a woman, do not affect the actual practice of gay marriage, but they do allow the state to discriminate against gays in the area of marital privilege, through laws governing such things as inheritance, divorce, community property, child custody, visitation rights, taxes, and benefits.

It is interesting that currently over sixty percent of major corporations provide employee benefits to same-sex partners, yet only five states plus D.C. recognize gay marriage. This is a disgrace, but it is not surprising. Government has a long history of discriminating against its own people. There was a time, for example, when 38 states banned inter-racial marriage.

Government has the obligation to treat all people equally. That comes from the 14th Amendment of the federal constitution, which says states may not deny any person the equal protection of the law. Perhaps a future Supreme Court ruling will strike down state laws which currently discriminate against gays.

Gay couples are entitled to the same legal rights as everyone else, including the right to form a legal contract commonly known as marriage. Moralists who believe they must defend the institution of marriage by discriminating against gays have their morals on backwards.

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