Vice Squad
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Ohio Heterosexuals Finally Safe

Well, straight Ohioans can rest easy today, knowing that homosexuals can no longer threaten the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. The Ohio legislature passed a sweeping ban on same-sex unions Tuesday. It passed overwhelmingly in the House, and the Governor is expected to sign it into law. The bill denies state benefits to domestic partners of the same or opposite sex, and prohibits the state from recognizing a same-sex union from another state. The bill declares marriage between persons of the same sex to be "against the strong public policy of this state."

What strong public policy would that be I wonder? Not wanting to encourage long-term monogamous relationships between citizens? Oh no, I know, the state certainly wouldn't want two people who live together, care for one another, and share expenses and income to file a joint tax return. That must be it. These are compelling arguments indeed. Incidentally, the bill was modeled on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law in 1996 by the poster-child for the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, Bill Clinton.

Ohio has long been considered a bastion of progressive thought, from the shootings at Kent State in 1970, to the recent race riots in Cincinnati, so I guess this bill shouldn't come as such a shock. What is especially troubling is that Ohio is only one of 38 states to prohibit the recognition of same-sex unions.

I have yet to hear anything even resembling a compelling or cogent reason to support bans on same-sex marriage. Are heterosexual married people afraid that if same-sex unions are allowed by law that their spouse will suddenly leave them for a member of the same sex? Does the government really think people will fake being gay in order to get health benefits? There is simply no public policy justification for banning same-sex marriages.

The current trend of lawmakers trying to ban gay marriage reminds me of Justice Harlan's dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 Supreme Court case that declared that blacks and whites were "separate but equal". Justice Harlan was the only dissenter in the case. He stated, "The destinies of the two races in this country are indissolubly linked together, and the interest of both require that the common government of all shall not permit the seeds of race hate to be planted under the sanction of law."

At bare minimum, I think a government's citizenry should demand that it not permit the seeds of hate to be planted under the sanction of law. All that same-sex marriage bans do is encourage intolerance, breed misunderstanding, and lend the authority of government to bigotry. Apparently Ohio lawmakers have yet to learn that they will one day reap the rotten fruits of the seeds they planted Tuesday.

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