Thursday, May 20, 2004

Reason Magazine

Reason Magazine's latest issue is mind-boggling.

The cover of the magazine contains a circled aerial photo of my house, which is nestled deep in the woods of southern Oregon. Well - they claimed it was a photo of my house, but upon inspection appears to be a near miss and is actually my local post office, not too many miles away.

And on the inside cover it purports to show a picture of the road to my house; it's also wrong, but only because whatever database they are using is trying to make sense of my PO Box address.

They threw in a lot of specialized info about my neighbors, our median income, age, and people per household, which appears to be about right. One fact they got absolutely correct was the commute time to the nearest town.

They did this to each of their 40,000 subscribers in a stunning feat of targeted marketing, done in order to point out the "databasification" of America, how our privacy has been stripped away, and how we will probably be glad to see it go, as long as we can keep Big Brother from stepping in and using the information against us in the years to come.

The article made some excellent points. When marketers know all there is to know about you and your buying habits, they can send you ads for things you probably will want. And they won't send you ads for stuff you probably don't want or aren't qualified to buy.

But they topped this article with one of the best articles about the gay marriage issue I have seen, written by Jonathan Rauch, author of the book Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America. As you might expect from his book, he makes a reasoned argument about the case FOR gay marriage, worth reading even if you have already made up your mind about the issue, either way.

I'm of the opinion that gay marriage will come to pass, despite the protests of those who oppose it as unnatural or immoral, because of well-organized pressure from the highly vocal gay community.

Oddly enough, I don't think anything horrible will happen as a direct result of giving gays full legal marriage rights on par with what we have between men and women. Or "civil unions" or whatever compromise is reached.

But reality will set in amongst gays about what it means to be married to someone.

It will be strange when the first gay divorces are run through the courts. I expect it to happen in the next few months. Someone will want to be the first, just for the publicity it will bring. Maybe Rosie O'Donnell?

In most states, the law is slanted toward the wife in a divorce. If two women get divorced, are they both to be considered wives? If two men are divorced, who will pay alimony? Or is it palimony? It's going to make for some wonderful case law and down the road I think it will tend to even things out for normal heterosexual divorcing men and women, which would be good.

While I'm gazing into my crystal ball, I think it will also open the doors to the legality of polygamous marriages, although there will probably only be the Mormons in that fight. There is plenty of Biblical support for those, however, and I think gay marriage will open the door to polygamy and later, group marriage. Laws against bigamy will go the way of laws against inter-racial marriage.

Will the traditional family fall apart as a result? And our society? Well - hasn't the traditional family ALREADY fallen apart? According to the latest census, 67% of married women with children under 6 years of age are working jobs to make ends meet. And our society is in deep trouble already.

My hope is that this gay marriage issue may act as a springboard toward the simplification and reform of all marriage and divorce laws in the US. In my view it should be as easy to get divorced as it is to get married in Las Vegas.

The state needs to get out of the marriage picture altogether.

We seem to be headed toward more equality in the law for homosexuals compared with heterosexuals, whether we want to or not. But when we have real equality in the law between men and women, then we'll really have something!

Women have been pushing for it for a hundred years, and I think it's time for men to push for it as well and repeal some of the "deadbeat dad" laws on the books. Men are serving time right now for the crime of not making enough money, and the laws used to convict them are terribly biased against them and violate their basic civil rights. They must be struck down, the sooner the better.

It's been proven time and again you can't legislate morality - and whether someone pays child support (or not) is a moral issue.

Below even that level, people are responsible for their own conditions.

Marriage has consequences, as the gay couples getting married are discovering. Marriage is not all lovey-dovey and "let's make a beautiful future together", although the act of getting married seems to be -- it's also "how are we going to make this next car payment" and "whose kids will be here this weekend and what will we feed them?" and "How come your spending money we didn't agree on?" Logistics take up most of the attention of married couples, and they discover to their horror a couple of years into it that every one of those personal attributes and quirks that were once so charming and appealing in their spouses are now driving them absolutely insane.

So when the first gay divorces hit the media this summer, don't say I didn't warn you.

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