Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Freedom Rings: It's nice to live in a nation that people often call "the free-est country in the world". It would be even nicer if it were true.

That title has to be given to the Netherlands. With ultra-liberalized laws on drugs, sex, and prostitution, the Dutch are free to do just about whatever they want with whomever they want, however they want. And yet Amsterdam has not been smote, smited, or smitten.

The Washington Post just ran a story about how common gay marriages are in the Netherlands, with almost 8 percent of weddings being between members of the same sex. Still, no smiting.

I don't see why some people see gay marriages as a threat. The truth is, you don't need permission from the government to get married. Any two people who commit to loving each other forever and being faithful to each other are married.

What the state provides is legal protections to married couples: marital tax exemptions; coverage of spouses under medical, dental, and life insurance; medical consent; hospital visitation; child custody; etc.

So by discriminating against certain couples by not providing such legal rights, the government is denying equal protection under the law. And according to the 14th Amendment, the government can't do that. Therefore, any denial of same-sex marriage should be considered unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, right-wingers will cry about tradition and how this ruins marriage and how it would be bad for children. But they have to face the fact that tradition changes, just like when women were allowed into the workplace. Encouraging more couples to commit will only strengthen the institution of marriage. And children are already being raised in homes with gay couples, with no adverse effects whatsoever. It's time for people to open their eyes and open their minds.

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