My Plan to Save the Sanctity of Marriage

Tuesday, 26 May 2009 04:47 AM Written by

(from politicians who want to save the sanctity of marriage)

Like swallows to Capistrano, George Lucas to new versions of the old Star Wars trilogy, or dogs to their own vomit, so, in contentious and uncertain times, do intellectually bankrupt demagogues return to the issue of same-sex marriage. Because there's nothing quite like demonizing gays to galvanize the base — especially when budget deficits are up, poll numbers are down, and political minds are otherwise empty.

Much as Bill Frist, George W. Bush, and all the rest of the devout, compassionate, love-thy-neighbors-as-long-as-they're-straight crowd did in 2004 and again in 2006, and much as our State Senate Judiciary Committee did last year, one grandstanding politician — by which I mean, one closeted bigot — has decided it's time to worry about what horrors might befall us if two men or women in love were allowed to marry and claim a couple of extra tax deductions. Our economy's sputtering, our infrastructure's going to hell, and our state legislature is still the size of mainland China — don't even get me started on the property assessment mess or the state-wide pension fund crises — but State Senator John Eichelberger thinks the real threat to the health and welfare of the commonwealth is the prospect that gays might somehow destabilize the sacred institution of marriage with an “activist movement” that has lately claimed the souls of those degenerate hedonists in Iowa.

Maybe it's natural instinct. Maybe its cynical exploitation. Maybe it's just some vile, insatiable hunger to mess with the people whose style of messing around they don't like. But whatever the reason, it's a compulsion our elected officials, who must have better things to do than worry about who may say I do, lately can not seem to resist vomiting up from the deep, dark bile of their own upset minds.

Still, in some strange, benefit-of-the-doubt sort of way, in the always gracious spirits of tolerance and of acceptance, let's try to understand what our esteemed State Senator is thinking. If the name of his upcoming bill -- the Marriage Amendment -- is any indication, it seems he doesn’t really want to discriminate against an entire class of people; he just wants to save what little is left of the rapidly diminishing sanctity of marriage. And for that, who can blame him?

After all, the institution of marriage is already less stable than the San Andreas Fault; one more tectonic shift, and the whole ritual might just crumble into a bleak and sinful sea of indifference. When American marriages last, on average, less than two full gubernatorial terms, and when the number of American divorces in a year is roughly the same as the number of dollars you can win on Deal or No Deal (now with a bonus round: Custody or No Custody!), maybe it's time to do something radical to save it.

If that's what he really wants to do — and not, you know, marginalize a whole class of people — then I have the perfect plan to do it. We'll just see, as they say on all the big-game sports telecasts, who wants it more.

First, we keep heterosexual marriage as is. Then we legalize homosexual marriage. And then, for a period of five years, we track the status and chart the progress of all new marriages, both homosexual and heterosexual, in the commonwealth.

Who's living happily? Who's having trouble? Who's seeking help? Who's beyond help? Who's separated? Who's divorced? Who's killed their spouses and dumped their bodies in the nearest body of water? We could even go national and solve this infernal, infuriating, every-damned-election-year problem once and for all. 

Think of the drama. Think of the intrigue. Think of the ratings.

It could become our next great pop culture infotainment obsession. Instead of just covering celebrity marriages, the morning shows and news magazines could track all marriages: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were divorced yesterday, Matt, but there's good news from Scranton, Pennsylvania: Lisa Williams and Mary Johnson just celebrated their second anniversary together! Score one for the lesbians!

We could even turn it into a new reality show: American Marriage. Or maybe Survivor: Wedding Bed Edition. Ryan Seacrest could host. Charlie Sheen, Elizabeth Taylor, and Simon Cowell could be the celebrity judges. The show would start with, say, six heterosexual and six homosexual couples. Each week, viewers could call in and eliminate one couple based on their appearance, their taste in clothes, their ability to sing show tunes, or their intimate knowledge of each other's annoying personal habits. It would be like a new-age Newlywed Game with better production values and a more annoying host. The show's web site could offer at-home, behind-the-scenes video (watch Adam and Steve fight over who left the toilet seat up!) of all the contestants, and we could even track all the stats in a special newspaper section: Couples, sort of a cross between the Sports, the Magazine section, and the Obituaries.

All those things would, of course, be just window dressing. Happy diversions to keep us entertained until we come to the truly important competition. Because we know that the real threat to the sanctity of marriage isn't who's getting married; it's who's getting divorced.

The true test — and so the true cultural impact — of this plan would come at the end of those five years. We'd do one final status check of every couple married during the trial period, then tabulate the statistics. Whichever group — The Hammerin' Heteros or The Hellacious Homos — produced the lower divorce rate would be crowned the winners. The Ultimate Matrimonial Champions. The true and shining guardians of our most sacred cultural institution. And then, after a little time, a lot of fun, and some simple arithmetic, all the great debate and demonization would finally be over. Because we would know for certain, once and for all and forever and ever amen, which kind of couple poses the true threat to the sanctity of marriage.

To make it even more interesting, and to be sure the debate never flared up again — you know, the next time some do-nothing politician needed to throw a little red meat to the open-mouthed, closed-minded masses — the competition would be winner take all.

If The Hammerin' Heteros win, we amend not just the state but the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as the most high and holy union of a man and a woman. If The Hellacious Homos pull off the upset, we amend the Constitution to define marriage as a grand and glorious union of the same sexes. It would be a neat, clean, field-tested, results-oriented, can't-argue-with-the numbers, they-left-it-all-on-the-field-and-in-the-bedroom, that's-why-they-play-the-game-and-test-the-commitment-of-the-orientations kind of resolution.

It would be fun, it would be fair, and it would be final. End of debate. End of story. End of relentless political pandering.

What do you say, Senator Eichelberger? U.S. Senators and Congressmen? All you other fire-breathing cultural caretakers? Wanna put your marriages where your mouths are?

I'm guessing you don't. For many reasons. Not the least of which is that, if we actually held that competition, we all know who would win.

(For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, here’s a hint: It wouldn't be the side that has already driven marriage so far into disrepair that an influx of loving, monogamous homosexual couples may be the last, best chance to save it.)


Join the conversation:

A Tale of Two Speeches

Monday, 25 May 2009 05:27 AM Written by

(it was the best of ideals, it was the worst of ideals)

I don’t know what’s more shocking: some of President Obama’s policy prescriptions, or that someone on MSNBC — bravo, Rachel Maddow! — saw fit to call him out on them. 

Join the conversation:

(Holiday Weekend) Notes From a Friday Afternoon

Friday, 22 May 2009 01:17 PM Written by

(packing the bags of my mind)

For your consideration: another curious collection of thoughts, reactions, and observations that didn’t make it into a full-length post this week...

• Yeah, I know. Bit light the past couple of days and late today too. Been that kind of a week. A long holiday weekend will help, and I expect to come back fully refreshed next week.

• In Wednesday’s post-primary post, I wrote: Principled men (and women, of course) do not apologize for speaking the truth. Which inspired one of TRM’s favorite readers and writers to email this important clarification: Uh, principled married men everywhere would disagree.

• The author of that little bit of philosophical wit shall remain nameless, if only to spare him — once more, I imagine — from being proven correct.

• Another of TRM’s favorite readers and writers — we’ll call him Mr. T. — emailed to share some thoughts about President Obama’s national security speech yesterday: The President, incidentally, doesn't want to "look back," but he premised his entire homily on blaming Bush. And talk about Nixon-paranoid  Rahm Emanuel scheduled Obama's speech as a direct counterpoint to Cheney's. (Why are they so concerned about Cheney? After all, Cheney has no credibility.)

• Mr. T. is right. Watching the suddenly omnipresent Cheney — where’s a secure and undisclosed location when you really need one? — take shots at Obama, then watching a ridiculously thin-skinned President Obama and his administration bristle so much about it — who do they think they are? The Mayor and his campaign manager? — and fire petty shots and staged speeches right back at him, is more depressing than anything I would have thought possible after the last eight years of clinical political depression. Between that crap and the all the regular, internecine bleatings from Capitol Hill, it’s as if our whole political discourse has been hijacked by a bunch of petulant kids on a middle school playground.

• It’s only a matter of time before one of them runs to a lunch lady and complains that someone stole his dodge ball, his detention camp notebook, and his War on Terror lunchbox.

Join the conversation:

Thursday Morning Post

Thursday, 21 May 2009 05:03 AM Written by

(the cover, at least)

I don't know quite what to make of this — I'm tempted to think it's some kind of metaphor for the increasing disconnect of the increasing hyper-connect of our increasingly fractured, postmodern lives, but it's a bit early in the morning for an explication that heavy — though I do know I was compelled to look, to look again, and then to stare at it for a while in my rearview mirror as I waited for a red light at Forbes and Beeler.

A bright red Land Rover, pulled to the curb, its engine still running. On the sidewalk beside it, a little boy, white shirt and blue shorts, obviously uniformed for private school, dancing a kind of herky-jerky jig back toward the passenger side door. Inside the Land Rover, another little boy, same uniform, standing up on the backseat, head and shoulders thrust through the sun roof. In the driver's seat, a man, presumably their father, sunglassed and seemingly oblivious, chatting away on a cell phone pressed tightly to his ear.

It was like some modern, half-demented Norman Rockwell painting come to life.

Almost an hour later, it's still kinda freaking me out.

Join the conversation:

They Didn't Ask Me, But...

Wednesday, 20 May 2009 09:11 AM Written by

(some notes after the primary)

Note to Patrick Dowd: No matter how many times The Mayor whines or complains or invokes the twin spectres of his Mom and his hurt feelings, do not take back one word of what you said during the campaign. Principled men (and women, of course) do not apologize for speaking the truth.

Join the conversation:

The Pharmacy America Trusts

Tuesday, 19 May 2009 03:25 AM Written by

(for peddling to the paranoid)

One of TRM’s regular readers and occasional correspondents sent me a Facebook message yesterday. It was so good — by which I mean, so depressing, yet so unsuprising — that I just had to share:

Join the conversation:

Together Alone

Monday, 18 May 2009 03:46 AM Written by

(some for one and few for all)

Alright. Let’s keep this simple:

The Obama Administration should stop acting and sounding like a slightly more nuanced version of the Bush Administration and release every last prisoner-abuse/enhanced-interrogation-techniques/whatever the-hell-they’re-calling-torture-these-days photo it can find. Apologize for them, promise that nothing like them will ever happen again, and then...

The Obama Administration should stop coddling and covering for the Bush Administration and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the stories, the terrible actions, and (quite possibly) the crimes behind those photos. And everything else associated with them. And then...

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s feet, and perhaps a few of her other body parts, should be held to every rhetorical, political, and factual flame we can find, so that everyone knows with absolute certainty what she — and any of her other, similarly grandstanding and hypocritical congressional colleagues — knew, when she knew it, and why she didn’t do a damned thing about it.(Except tuck it away for points of political outrage to be scored later.) And then...

Join the conversation:

The Radical Radio

Monday, 18 May 2009 03:33 AM Written by

(with mark, anna, and julie)

It’s time for another Blogger’s Roundtable on Pittsburgh Business Radio.

Tune in this afternoon from 5-6pm to hear us punditize on all things Pittsburgh and beyond. You can listen to the show on WMNY Money Talk 1360 AM, catch the live stream online, and/or participate in the accompanying real-time TalkShoe chat.

If you miss it — if you’re, say, stuck in a meeting, or busy preparing for tonight's Penguins game — I’ll post a link to the podcast later this week. 


Join the conversation: