Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Amending the U.S. Constitution Amid Social Hysteria
Has worked well for this country in the past (see, e.g., the 18th Amendment , repealed just 13 years later by the 21st Amendment), so it's great to see our fearless leader, Dubya, going down this same road again. G.W. has asked Congress to approve a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Last night's "Daily Show" aired a brilliant piece by Stephen Colbert on this issue. Mocking the president's announcement, Colbert satirically expressed enthusiastic support for the amendment. He stated that he had recently forgotten his anniversary, his wife's birthday, and on a few occasions, her name. Was this the result of years of emotional neglect? No, Colbert blamed his poor husbandship on the recent gay marriages in California. When Jon Stewart asked Colbert if he would also support a constitutional amendment forbidding adultery, given that adultery seems to pose a pretty big threat to heterosexual marriage, Colbert exclaimed, "Hey, hey, get your laws out of my bedroom!"
Although Mr. Colbert was being sarcastic, I would bet that the same conservatives that laud a constitutional amendment against gay marriage do not want the government intruding on their relationships with their partners. How far will this go? Do you and your spouse ask God for daily affirmation of your love and partnership? No, well, I want to see a constitutional amendment requiring that you do so.
Marriage is a religious institution, although the State has recognized it and given it certain rights. What we should have is a constitutional amendment that declares marriage to be just what it is - a private, religious ceremony. Partners who meet certain neutral requirements such as shared incomes and residences could then be eligible for government benefits and rights. Churches that want to recognize some types of marriage but not others would be free to do so.