I don’t think the government should get involved in gay marriage. But, on the other hand, I don’t think the government should be involved in straight marriage either.
That might sound like a strange sentiment coming from a happily married guy like me. But The Queen and I, not religious in the slightest, got married only because it was the only option available to us. If we could have gotten civilly unionized, we probably would have gone that route. Instead, we just made it as secular an affair as possible, with a retired judge as the officiant and a ceremony held in the Seattle Aquarium.
The fundamental problem with “marriage” is the word, not the institution. It means different things to different people, which largely accounts for the acrimonious debate over gay marriage that grips the nation every election year. For some “marriage” is a religious arrangement, where two people are joined together by God; to others it refers to the purely secular tradition of pledging fidelity to one another in the hopes that your friends and relatives will give you DVD players and ice cream makers. Until the two sides in the gay marriage debate agree on a common definition — something unlikely to happen anytime soon — we’re going to just go around and around in circles on this issues for decades to come.
The gov needs to get out of the marriage business altogether, ya’ask me. Separation of church and state, yo. It should relinquish claim to the word “marriage” altogether, let it revert to its original, religious meaning, and wash its hands of the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong — I still think there should be a secular equivalent. Just don’t call it “marriage.” And don’t call it “civil unions,” either — that term is sullied by those who have been trying to pawn it off as some kind of bargain basement matrimony.
I think the United States should adopt the Buddy System.
Here’s how it would work. When a citizen reaches Buddying age, he or she will receive a charming, hand-written note in the mail from the government. This is what it will say:
Hi there! Welcome to adulthood. You've had it relatively easy so far, all things considered: what with the parents, and the no job, and the not paying taxes, and the ability to eat an entire Italian sausage and black olive pizza without feeling like crap the following morning. Sure the whole puberty thing sucked, no argument there. But by and large life has been pretty sweet.
Unfortunately things get a little trickier from here on out. You might have to work a job you don't particularly like, or find yourself with all kinds of obligations you'd just as soon avoid. Maybe you'll feel your idealism leech away, and your patience for the status quo dwindle. Perhaps the people who signed your yearbook "2good + 2b = 4gotten!" will move away and 4get you, and your opportunities to meet new, fun people will become increasingly limited. And -- trust me on this one -- no TV show will ever seem as cool as the ones you enjoyed when you were 13.
Yeah, adulthood is a drag sometimes. And that's where the Buddy System comes in. At some point, you may find it useful to Buddy up with another person, someone you will watch over and who will, in turn, watch over you. Like the earlier version of this system you may have used at school or at camp, your Buddy's job will be to make sure you don't get lost. But less a literal "don't get lost in the forest during a dayhike" and more a figurative "don't get so lost working at a crummy job that you forget how much you like gardening." Or, you know, whatever.
So, at some point, feel free to take a Buddy. Or don't: whatever works for you. But iIt's a scary world out there, and sometimes a Buddy is just the thing you need to make it seem a bit more manageable.
Also, couples wishing to Buddy would be required to have their ceremony somewhere awesome, like a waterslide park or a Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert or the Seattle Aquarium. And an open bar would be mandated by law.
I think this is a compromise the whole nation could all get behind, don’t you?