In honor of St. Valentine, I come before you to plead a case, or rather, to enter another lines of reasoning into an already roiling discussion.
Let's say that I'm in love with a person, and we have decided that on this, ostensibly the most "romantic" of all days of the year, we've decided that we want to express our love for each other by having our union made public and honored by the government. But alas....
I walk into the county clerk's office to apply for a marriage license (the necessity for a license for such an intimate proclamation left aside for now). I answer all the questions thereupon about myself and my partner.
Are we already married? No.
Are we of legal age to make a binding decision? Yes.
Are we related to each other in such a way that makes it illegal for us to wed? No.
Are we both US citizens? Yes.
And on and on. No reason under the law preventing us from being married.
And yet the count clerk denies my application because my love, the person whom I want to publicly declare my devotion, is male. Well, maybe not because HE is male, rather it is because I am.
Were I a female: "no problem, congratulations, and here's a coupon for a discounted rate for the honeymoon suite at the Econolodge for your big night (Tu-Thu nights only, except between Memorial Day and Labor Day). For no other reason than that I am male is my otherwise perfectly legal application to a government office denied.
If I were applying for a job and denied for being a male? Watch out.
For food stamps? Subsidized housing? A government research grant? Fuhgettaboutit. But a marriage license?
Because I am male, they will not grant me one. Were I female, there would be no hesitation.
Think about it. This discussion may be framed in a way that is not about traditional marriage definitions, not about the role of religion in our society, not about whether or not families of same-sex unions are just as strong as those of differing-gender parents. Think about the passion, heartache, and entrenched bigotry we could avoid by not getting into the trenches with the opposition on those subjects.
I'm not saying that these are not important discussions to have, it's just that I believe that it is possible, maybe even preferable, to avoid that neverending back-and-forth in this battle for equality.
Banning same sex marriage is an issue of gender discrimination. The gender of my mate aside, I am denied a set of government benefits because of my gender. No need to get into whether it's a choice. No need to get into whether or not the government should be involved in marriages in the first place.
Because I am male, I am denied. Were I female, I would be approved.