Sunday, March 15, 2009

Defend Love, Not Marriage

Among the many things we're fighting for in this country, the defense of marriage should not be one of them. And I say that as a very happily married man.

And as unlikely as it sounds, repealing the Defense of Marriage Act is exactly the right issue to bring liberals like myself, and conservatives together for a change. One change would be to provide health benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. The only thing standing in the way of President Obama fulfilling this campaign pledge is his desire not to alienate already uncooperative Republican lawmakers.

This is the time for Obama to stand firm on an issue that means so much to so many of his most passionate supporters. And also a time for true conservatives to have their desire not to have government intrude upon our personal lives, apply to gay lives as well. Not only is that the right thing to do, but it would actually help Republicans broaden their base as well.

The Defense of Marriage Act was passed during the Clinton presidency in 1996, approved by an overwhelming majority of Democrats as well as Republicans. It was the biggest display of bipartisan stupidity and hypocrisy Washington has ever seen. With all the domestic and international threats looming then, they considered marriage to be under attack, and declared that it only applied between a man and a woman. After the vote, some of them ran home to their bad marriages, or to the Mayflower hotel for illicit trysts.

One Republican congressman, Vito Fossella of Staten Island who voted for the bill, and who was a great champion of "family values", was forced from office when it was discovered that in addition to his wife and kids at home, he had another wife and kids near Washington. Apparently, Fossella's idea of family values was having as many families as possible.

The origins of marriage came out of purely financial considerations, so there is absolutely no "sanctity of marriage" to protect, as some sanctimonious Congressmen and Senators claim.

While marriage is not sacred, love is. And the right for every American to love freely is a basic and fundamental one that should be embraced by liberals and conservatives alike. And it follows rationally that same sex couples deserve the same health benefits and other rights that other couples enjoy now.

And hey, at $67 million a year to cover health benefits for same sex federal employees, it's practically a steal compared to other expenditures we're seeing these days.

But the cost of giving equal rights to all couples shouldn't be an issue.

Because you can't put a price on love.