the spate of news on "gay marriage" has created an environment that begs the question, "What is marriage?"
In what has to be a headline writer's dream, the Queen signed the British gay marriage act into law, making it now possible for men to marry men, women to marry women, and for sheep to start trembling with foreboding.
Headline? Queen of Queens
Before that, the US Supreme Court struck down bans on gay marriages, thus setting up a flurry of lawsuits and bureaucratic hand-wringing about what new regulations and such must be promulgated.
Headline? Supremes Love Queens
So, what is marriage? Why should this sea-change in what is and isn't legal marriage cause so much vitriol on both sides of the issue?
What we think of today as marriage is really a fairly recent development, beginning in earnest in the 1800s. Before that, it was primarily reserved for royalty and upper class as a means of securely transferring wealth to heirs and to aid the blue-bloods obsession with breeding themselves like show dogs. Before a couple could marry, one had to know what the intended breedstock's Dam and Sire history was, much like the vetting of Kate before William could officially call her his intended.
With the rise of the middle class, us regular folks started getting some goodies, like land and other property, and we wanted to ensure that the proper heirs received it all after we entered the Undiscovered Country. Since title to real property was registered by government agencies, then it stood to reason that government agencies had to register our marriages and breeding habits to legally protect inheritance.
After the 1930s, and the rise of employee benefits and insurance, we had greedy companies who didn't want to give away more bennies and coverage than they had to, so one had to be 'legally' married in order to share those bennies with a spouse. And if one died without a will and no 'legal' spouse or children, well old Uncle Sugar could avail himself of the family wealth, after the lawyers quit arguing over it.
Under English Common Law (for us commoners), marriage used to be simple. You shacked up with the farmer's daughter, called yourselves husband and wife, and *POOF* it was done. This was often used in old-Timey America when a man and woman would meet for a tryst at the local motel and register as Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Under the Common Law, that made them a married couple.
Since government was given the power to register and sanction who was and wasn't married, for the purposes of inheritance and social benefits, then the government was given the power to determine who it would and wouldn't consider 'married'. Very simple process with far-reaching implications.
Let's strip away all the paperwork, celebrations, traditions, and rhetoric and see just what marriage is.
In effect, humans require pretty much a lifetime of raising. A parent's work is never really done, though around age 18 or so (much later for some), the children become independent and require much less intensive nannying.
What this means is that the male and female of the species find it efficatious to guarantee each other's support for at least 20 years to raise and care for the offspring. There are as many variations on this practice as there are human cultures, but they all boil down to the male promising economic input, while the female promises emotional. Along with this arrangement, the female desires fidelity to ensure that her offspring receive the full attention and resources of the male. The male desires fidelity to ensure the progeny are his.
Some societies see this mutual exchange of promises as a covenant, meaning each party is bound regardless of the actions of the other party. Some consider a single spouse for life enough, while others are a bit more liberal in their interpretation, with multiple wives being the norm, but there are examples of multiple husbands
Add to this the whole mystique of female virginity. In the pre-DNA-testing era, motherhood was certain, but fatherhood was not. A virgin wife more or less guaranteed the sire's legacy. This would seem to be a rather antiquated notion any more. DNA testing has roughly a 98% certainty, compared to virginity's significantly lesser amount. There is at least one famous case of virgin birth on the books.
In light of the history of marriage, it would seem that gay marriage is a joke. After all, two males or two females are not likely to produce offspring (see virgin birth) unless they steal or adopt, which brings the whole legal system back into the matter again.
In fact, until the dawn of social welfare programs, insurance and employee benefits, the whole concept of gay marriage was pretty much pointless. The irony of this is that all the social and legal protections heterosexual couples have fought for to aid and abet their breeding cycles has led to a situation that almost cries out for gay marriage.
If duly and legally registered marriage is a prerequisite for receiving tax benefits, spouse insurance, social welfare payments, and the like, then it stands to reason that only allowing male/female marriages excludes some portion of the population from participating in all the goodies.
You may argue the old way of doing things was just fine. What?! There was an old way? Sure. Male and female homosexual couples used to marry each other's partners and then live in close proximity to each other in order to enjoy all the bennies of heterosexual lifestyles, as well as provide plausible deniability for their predilections, should prejudice rear it's ugly head. This practice is well-documented in 1940s and 50s America. Lest you feel appalled, there were similar arrangements among polygamists in heterosexual unions.
To summarize, legal marriage was created to ensure 'legal' right of inheritance and provide assured breed-stock for the 1%-ers. As the middle class grew, this practice filtered down. With the rise of the nanny state, increaded social and political benefits were granted 'legal' marriages to encourage the production of cannon-fodder for the state. With the world moving toward democracy, everyone felt entitled to the benefits, being equal to all others under the 'law'. Therefore, it follows that the 'law' must recognize all sexual unions to grant all bennies to all people equally.
So really, heterosexuals set up the system for themselves which had to be shared eventually because those same heterosexuals believe that democracy is a great thing.
So quit yer bitchin'.
If you are one of those who believe that gay marriage is an aberration and against the natural law, then you must follow though with that and return to natural law. You cannot worship the state and beg on bended knee for scraps from Uncle Sugar's table, and then complain when crowds start developing around the scap heap. It doesn't work like that. The more power you give to government, the more it will take. It is a fact of life so entrenched that it is nearly as axiomatic as needing a male and female to produce children.
Government loves these kind of issues because people always turn to government for answers, which empowers it to do whatever it wants, which is take more power.
People are completely missing the point on the gay marriage issue. It is not whether government recognizes this or that kind of marriage, but that it has the power to so in the first place. The entire matter boils down to our attitude towards government and the culture we have built around that attitude. Simple as that.
In the future, don't be surprised if the age of consent is lowered to 9, or human-beast marriage is sanctioned. The government will do whatever necessary to capture the most amount of power and revenue, and that means ensuring the greatest number of people come to it begging for permission. Nor can you depend on lawyers to protect the common sentiments, since their vested interest is to create the maximum amount of strife to ensure a steady flow of customers from prenuptial to divorce, and all the filings in between.
You cannot have a little bit of government. That is akin to being partially pregnant. Either you have a cancer on society that will grow until the society is destroyed, or you have a healthy organism. Despite the best efforts of the best minds throughout all of history, no one has found a happy medium.
If you enjoy any benefits from government at all, then you are part of the problem and have no room or right to complain when others nudge you down the slop trough. It is a fact of life as sure as the birds and bees.
If you are considering getting married, then consider doing it without the blessing of government. And don't register the births of your children, either. if you can do that, then you can get in line at the complaint window.