Gay 'n Gray
|by John D. Siegfried|
Though the Republicans now have their candidate, the neck-and-neck Democratic race for the White House continues. Both parties want a big turn out in November and some aren't above using devious means to reach that goal. Here in my home state of Florida one of the techniques to prime the election pump is to put the same-sex marriage issue on the November ballot.
Florida law already defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman but Florida 4 Marriage, a right wing initiative created in 2004 by the Florida Convention of Baptist Ministers and funded with a $300,000 donation from the Florida Republican Party, has collected enough signatures to place the same-sex marriage issue on the November ballot as an amendment to the state constitution. Some Floridians apparently don't feel that the law is enough of a barrier to the evil gay destructive forces aimed at the American family and are willing to tamper with the state constitution in order to advance their cause.
Most rational Florida residents, even those against same-sex marriage, recognize that the amendment is superfluous and merely a ploy to bring right wing voters to the polls in November in the hope that a large turn out will help insure a Republican presidency. Governor Christ, a Republican, to his credit has publicly stated that, "The Republican Party should not underwrite the campaign to amend the constitution since Florida has higher priorities." But, as if the political pool weren't muddy enough with the issues of Iraq, the economy, education, immigration and health care, the amendment is bound to muddy it more by injecting a guaranteed source of controversy. Tossing same-sex marriage to red-neck Floridians is like tossing a raw steak to a starving pit bull.
All is not lost, however. I have a plan that will equitably solve the same-sex marriage controversy and I'm waiting for one of the candidates to endorse it.
My plan is simplesubsidize gays and lesbians not to marry. Since our real gripe isn't that we can't walk down the aisle of some religious sanctuary arm in armthe churches will do what they want about recognizing same-sex relationshipsbut rather that we are discriminated against economically by the government, it seems reasonable to expect the government to provide a financial subsidy to gays and lesbians to stay unwed thereby eliminating the inequality between married and unmarried couples.
There's plenty of federal precedent for providing financial subsidies to worthy citizens for inaction. Farmers annually haul in a multi-billion dollar bonanza for not planting tobacco, not planting cotton, or whatever, so why shouldn't single people who are partnered and in a committed relationship be similarly rewarded by the government for remaining single? If the government wants to support the so-called family values of one segment of our population, let them put their money where their mouth isor, more accurately put their money where my mouth is.
In typical Washington election year frenzy opponents to my idea will scream, "Where will the money come from? We can't afford it!" But I figure the subsidy costs can easily be covered by adding a taxno, that's a dirty word in an election year so call it a marriage surcharge, or a non-voluntary equality contributionto each and every marriage license. Perhaps a hundred or two hundred dollars per license would be an appropriate starting point. This added cost to wed might test the sincerity of the Britney Spears wannabes looking for a fifty-five hour romp in the hay. It would help protect the exclusivity of the institution of marriage by making it more expensive thereby eliminating the riff-raff, and the poor riff-raff at that, from this sacred institution. What better defense of the family?
Add to the money generated by this non-voluntary government imposed contribution the money that would be saved by states like Florida by not having to put stupid and unnecessary constitutional amendments on the ballot and the subsidy funds are guaranteed. The Same-Sex Subsidy sounds like an accurate descriptor for my plan, but the SSS acronym evokes images of men in black goose-stepping across the stage. This is hardly the image we'd want for a step forward in equal rights. Perhaps it would be best to name the non-tax the Marriage Equalization, Same-Sex, or MESS for short. It has a certain ring of truthfulness about it.
I recognize that it would take a whole new bureaucracy to administer such a program, but the government is good at establishing bureaucracies and any presidential aspirant would see this as a challenge and an opportunity more political plums to pass out, thousands of new jobs to create. And best of all a select team of gay decorators will be entrusted with color selections, furnishings and fabrics for the federal and the regional offices. The Fab Four will be relegated to historical annals as the Fab Five Hundred Federal Fruit-Flies take over.
The biggest problem that I can foresee will be the selection of an appropriate name and a suitable acronym to designate this important mission. The Bureau for Same-Sex Subsidies has a certain appeal to it, but BSSS might be confused with BSA, the Boy Scouts of America, or just plain BS, and that's no way to start an important program like this. Agency for Marital Protection, or AFMP, sounds like something I'd look for in the electrical section at Home Depot. Had the term not already become a symbol of cronyism, mismanagement and incompetence FEMA, the Federal Equality Marriage Agency, would have worked.
Oh well, our new president will have four years to work out the details, that is if he or she has the foresight and leadership to champion my plan.
John Siegfried, a former Rehoboth resident who now lives in Ft. Lauderdale, maintains strong ties to our community and can be reached at email@example.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 02 March 08, 2008