The Supreme Court of New Jersey has just decided that gay couples are entitled to all the rights that heterosexual couples have… but do not have a claim to the institution of marriage. The legislature of that state now has 180 days in which to decide whether to change the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or whether to create another separate-but-equal institution to provide benefits and obligations.

Much of the argument against marriage equality is that man-woman marriage is the ideal grouping in which to raise children. While same-sex couples may raise perfectly fine kids, it just isn’t as good a model as opposite-sex couples and therefore the state has the right to reserve the privileges of ‘marriage’ to those groupings that best benefit society.

Perhaps the legislature of New Jersey will take the high road and opt for equality. Probably not. Having just finished Jim McGreevey’s autobiography, his observations about the ethical character of New Jersey politicians suggests that they will have no problem with treating their citizens as two different classes of people. I hope I’m wrong.

But assuming that New Jersey will create Civil Unions (or revise their Domestic Partnerships) to provide second class status for gay marriages, I think they should take the opportunity to look at other marriages that don’t meet the standard of “optimal”. Such marriages could include:

Divorced Marriages – All studies agree that divorce is horrible on children. And a huge percentage of sexual abuse of minors is by step-parents. Clearly this isn’t ideal.

Ex-Gay Marriages – The limited information available suggests that ex-gay marriages are much more likely to end in divorce than straight marriages. This is devastating on the kids. Clearly this isn’t ideal.

Mixed Orientation Marriages – These are probably not much more successful than ex-gay marriages (though certainly more honest). And the dynamic between the parents is not a healthy model for children. Clearly this isn’t ideal.

Post-Menopausal Marriages – These marriages don’t result in children. And since the anti-gays will tell you that the primary purpose of marriage is children, then one that can’t result in children really only needs the benefits and obligations of marriage, not marriage itself. Clearly this isn’t ideal.

Perhaps you can think of a few more marriages that could be downgraded to Civil Unions. Feel free to use the criteria that anti-gay and ex-gay speakers use to argue against equality.

Of course I really don’t favor diminishing the relationships of any married couples. But perhaps if straight judges and politicians (and ex-gay ministers) viewed themselves the same way they view gay people, these arguments for legal discrimination and the opposition to equality would someday go away.

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