Saturday, May 17, 2008

What's love got to do with it?

A friend of mine spent five years with a woman who married him only for US citizenship. I know a number of couples whose marriages were arranged, including my own in-laws. I know that hundreds of marriages each year take place between two people who don't even know each other in mail-order bride setups. In none of these situations where a marriage license must be obtained does a judge or a court clerk ever ask how each party feels toward the other. Why not? Because, it is not up to civil authorities to determine if there is an emotional basis for marriage. In other words, as far as the government is concerned, what's love got to do with it?

Apparently, it's the only thing that matters if you're gay and want to marry your partner in California. The CA Supreme Court put same-sex marriage on the fast track to statewide implementation this week by overturning a ban on such marriages. Chief Justice Ron George explained the majority opinion by saying, "our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person..." yada yada (emphasis mine). Oh, so now the state is supposed to have an interest in how loving two people are toward each other as the basis for marriage?

Anyone should see how poor Justice George's rationale is. First, the law has never cared about the emotional state of people getting married, because second, it can't. The law has no ability to grant a position of marriage based on emotional relationship, because "loving" is not a quantitative characteristic. All the law can establish with any certainty is species, gender, and age, all of which must be legal in order for a valid marriage. Last, the length of the committment to marriage is of no consequence (and just as unquantifiable), as divorce is as common as tatoos in Seattle. So Justice George's appeal to gay couples having the capacity for "long-term committed relationship[s]" makes about as much sense, it doesn't make any sense.

Now I'd like to march right into the courthouse where I got my marriage license and demand to know why my feelings about my fiancee were never confirmed for the state. That's the government--failing the people once again.

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