You can't claim you're the party of smaller government and then make laws about love. On this Valentine's day, let's stop and ask ourselves, "What business is it of the state how consenting adults choose to pair off, share expenses, and eventually stop having sex with each other?"

And why does the Bush administration want a constitutional amendment about weddings? Hey, why stop at weddings? Birthdays are important; let's put them in the great document. Let's make a law that gay people can have birthdays, but straight people get more cake. You know, to send the right message to kids.

Republicans are always saying we should privatize things like schools, prisons, social security -- hey, how about we privatize privacy! Because if the government forbids gay men from tying the knot, what is their alternative? They can't all marry Liza Minnelli.

You know, the Republicans used to be the party that opposed social engineering, but now they push programs to outlaw marriage for some people and encourage it for others. If you're straight, there's $1.5 billion in the budget to promote marriage, but gay marriage is opposed because it threatens or mocks or does something to the sanctity of marriage, as if anything you can do in Vegas drunk off your ass in front of an Elvis impersonator could be considered sacred.

Half the people who pledge eternal love are doing it because one of them is either knocked up, rich or desperate. But in George Bush's mind, marriage is only a beautiful lifetime bond of love and sharing, kind of like what his dad has with the Saudis.

But at least the right wing aren't hypocrites on this issue. They really believe that homosexuality is an abomination and a dysfunction that's curable. They believe that if a gay man just devotes his life to Jesus,
he'll stop being gay, because that worked out so well with the Catholic priests.

But I have to tell you that the greater shame in this story goes to the Democrats because they don't believe homosexuality is an abomination, and, therefore, their refusal to endorse gay marriage is hypocrisy. Their position doesn't come from the Bible; it's ripped right from the latest poll which says that most Americans are against gay marriage.

Well, you know what? Sometimes most Americans are just wrong, and where is the Democrat who will stand up and go beyond the half- measures of civil union and hate-the-sin-love-the-sinner and say loud and clear, "There is no sin. It's not an abomination and no one can control how cupid aims his arrows, and the ones who pretend they can usually turn out to be the biggest freaks."

The law in this country should reflect that some people are just born one-hundred-percent outrageously, fabulously, undeniably Fire-Island gay. And they do not need re-programming -- they need a man with a slow hand.

-- Bill Maher

What effect will allowing men to marry men and women to marry women have on our peculiarly modern venture of marriage? Proponents typically say that it will have hardly any—that there is no shortage of marriage licenses, and all that will happen is that more citizens and their children will have the benefits of existing family law. The opposition argues that one of the organizing institutions of our society will be imperilled.

History suggests that neither view is quite accurate. Despite comparisons to the repeal of miscegenation laws, no other expansion of the marriage franchise—to the sterile, to slaves, or to interracial couples—has required an alteration in the basic definition of the term: the union of a man and woman as husband and wife. To discount this as mere semantics misses what the definition points up: that marriage, through all its incarnations, has been a procedure that assigns people a new identity based on their gender. For centuries, it has been the ceremony that makes males into husbands and females into wives. Until very recently, this meant a lifetime commitment to both the security and the constriction of a well-defined social role. The symbolic danger that gay marriage poses to such an arrangement is obvious. It alters the public meaning of the word by further draining it of its power to reinforce traditional expectations of behavior. What does it mean to be a husband in a world where a man could have one of his own? This is up to each individual couple, one is tempted to say. Fair enough; but the words we use to describe our relationships are shared cultural property. There is no private language. In this sense, granting the word “marriage” to gay couples will eventually affect everyone.

The mistake is to consider the change in meaning particularly drastic. After all, undoing customary expectations for how a husband and wife behave toward each other has been one of the goals of the women’s movement since its inception. Rather than an abrupt departure, same-sex marriage is the culmination of a larger and ultimately more consequential change in the nature of marital relations between men and women.

Which is one of the reasons that the opposition to it is so fierce. It has come to symbolize what is, historically speaking, radical about contemporary marriage: the decline of the patriarchal legal structure and the rise of the goal of self-fulfillment. Gay marriage is unsettling, to many, not because it departs from modern meanings of matrimony but because it embodies them. 

-- Adam Haslett, The New Yorker

I belong to the 1970s generation of gay liberationists who thought that gays might provide straights with a new, superior model of association, long chromosomes of lovers, partners, serial husbands and fuck buddies that would answer the real complexity of human needs. We were all certain that the ideal of companionate marriage invented in the nineteenth century represented an unrealizable goal, especially when the claims of hedonism and self-realization that cropped up in the second half of the twentieth century weakened the ethic of self-sacrifice. Companionate marriage - in which just one other person was supposed to be helpmate, sexual partner, best friend, domestic manager and soul-sister for life - obviously was not something that came naturally to the vagrant human spirit. Only strong religious convictions and an inflexible self-discipline could make it work, as well as a sense that one was living not for pleasure but out of duty to the next generation. Once that model of marriage started to collapse, gays proposed their own molecular models of multiple partners. To be sure, our model emerged in the late 1970s because that was an era in which antibiotics had stilled our fears of venereal disease and AIDS had not yet appeared with a new fatal consequence to promiscuity.

AIDS in the 1980s killed off many of the gay men who'd been adventurous about their personal lives - guys who slept around, took it up the ass, tried out new positions, played versatile roles, experimented with drugs. It preserved those men who were too drunk or too fearful or too puritanical or too homely or too traditional or too stiffly macho to try out any of those fun new gadgets or practices. Whereas the only visible gay leaders in the 1970s had been the leftist liberationist crowd, AIDS in the 1980s flushed out of the woodwork conservative, middle-class men, the ones who'd had no stake in coming out previously but who now were forced by disease out of the closet. Once out, these middle-class men seized power and knew how to wield it. They brought to the gay movement their own conservative values - including a respect for the family and for marriage.

Until a year ago I would have sniffed at the gay pro-marriage movement as just one more effort on the part of gay neocons to assimilate with their white, middle-class, straight friends and relatives. But the uproar of the Christian right against gay marriage has won me over to the cause. Anything that Republicans and Christians hate so much can't be all bad. The question for me is no longer one of lifestyle but rather of civil rights. Lesbians and gays should have all the same rights as straights. Some of the rights we gained earlier were peripheral (and often reversible), whereas marriage goes right to the heart of national concepts of community and the future. Civil unions are not as good as marriages precisely because they lack the quasi-mystical symbolism (and many of the rights of inheritance and adoption).

Curiously, perhaps the ardor and zeal that gays are bringing to marriage may renew the prestige of the institution even in the eyes of straights. And maybe gay male couples - who aren't subjected to the
compassionate, civilizing influence of women – need marriage to soften them, bring a note of humanity and kindness into their relationships. 

-- Edmund White