They go together like a horse and carriage, as we know. And if a horse and carriage is like a marriage, why not gay marriage?
I'm being silly, of course. But as our President has caused the issue to raise its head again, as it were, I feel given to expound on it. He is an able politician; he says that he is in favor of it but thinks the states should decide whether or not it should be legal. The best of both worlds in the political universe, it would seem.
I heard on the radio recently the argument that gay marriage should be allowed as it involves the pursuit of happiness, one of the "inalienable" rights identified in the Declaration of Independence of our Glorious Republic. The drafters of that remarkable document, being lawyers, were careful not to state that happiness itself is a right. If one considers our society litigious now, just imagine what it would be like if we could sue for being deprived of happiness.
So, we have only the right to pursue happiness, it seems. If a gay person wants to pursue happiness by marriage, should not he/she have a right to do so?
Well, the pursuit of happiness is subject to some limitations. One can't pursue it through fraud, for example, or criminal conduct. Not quite the same thing, though, I hope all would agree. But the law also imposes restrictions on conduct in other circumstances, purportedly for the public health and welfare.
No doubt those who oppose gay marriage would claim that it is detrimental to the public health and welfare in some manner. It's hard to imagine, though, how it would be any more detrimental than marriage is now. The contentions being made regarding the "sanctity" of marriage are laughable. It should be obvious that marriage is not, at least in the law, a sacred or holy relationship, nor should it be. It should also be obvious that it is not treated as such by most of us, or is at most treated as a sacred and holy relationship which may be revoked at will and is revoked by many in fact; in other words, not very sacred and holy at all.
I've voiced the opinion in this blog and elsewhere that it would be useful if the word "marriage" was not used in the law, i.e. that all marriages be considered "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" or something along those lines. That would only make sense, as for purposes of the law they are nothing more than partnerships of a special kind, which operate and are construed as business partnerships in most ways. This would it is to be hoped release us from claims being made that marriage has some kind of unique status, which cannot be sullied in any fashion. Claims made in the context of the law, that is to say. Religions may treat them as holy as they like. However, what they do would and should make no difference to the law. Whatever penalties or prohibitions a religion may impose as to marriage may be imposed, provided that they are not relevant to legal status, rights and responsibilities.
But I daresay someone would claim that this is caving in to bigotry, or that marriage does, indeed, have a special status in the law, as some federal judges have held, which renders it in a manner I find bewildering different from civil unions in the law, and that this special status should be made open to all.
Words do indeed have power. But sometimes they are accorded too much power over us.