- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 4, 2005

In all states where same-sex “marriage” was on the ballot this year, voters rejected it — as they should have.

Of all the phony arguments for homosexual “marriage,” the phoniest is that it is a matter of equal rights. Marriage is not a right extended to individuals by the government. It is a restriction on rights they already have.

People who simply live together can make whatever arrangements they wish, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. They can divide up their worldly belongings 50-50 or 90-10, or however they want. They can make their union temporary or permanent or cancellable at any time.

Marriage is a restriction. If my wife buys an automobile with her own money, under California marriage laws I automatically own half of it, even if my name is not on the title. Whether good, bad or indifferent, that law limits our freedom to arrange such things as we ourselves might individually choose. This is just one of many decisions marriage laws take out of our hands.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said the life of the law is not logic but experience. Marriage laws have evolved through centuries of experience with couples of opposite sexes — and the children that such unions produce. Society asserts its stake in the decisions made by restricting the couples’ options.

Society has no such stake in the outcome of a union between two persons of the same sex. Transferring all those laws to same-sex couples would make no more sense than transferring the rules of baseball to football.

Why then do homosexual activists want their options restricted by marriage laws, when they can make their own contracts with their own provisions and hold all sorts of ceremonies to celebrate it? The issue is not individual rights. What the activists seek is official social approval of their lifestyle.

But this is the antithesis of equal rights. If you have a right to someone else’s approval, they don’t have a right to their own opinions and values. You cannot say what “consenting adults” do in private is nobody else’s business and then turn around and say others must approve of it.

The rhetoric of “equal rights” has become the road to special privilege for all sorts of groups, so perhaps it was inevitable homosexual activists would take that road too. It has worked. They have already got far more government money earmarked for AIDS than for other diseases that kill far more people.

We’re long overdue for calling a halt on “equal rights” word games leading to special privileges — for anybody — and same-sex “marriage” is as good a place to do it as anywhere.

Incidentally, it is not even clear how many homosexuals actually want marriage, though homosexual activists are pushing it. What the activists really want is the stamp of acceptance on homosexuality, as a means of spreading that lifestyle, which has become a deathstyle in the AIDS era.

They have already succeeded to a remarkable degree in our public schools, where so-called “AIDS education” or other pious titles are put on programs that promote homosexuality. In some cases, homosexual activists actually come to the schools, not only to promote homosexuality as an idea but even to pass out to the kids the addresses of local homosexual hangouts.

There is no limit to what people will do if you let them get away with it. That our schools, which are painfully failing to educate our children to the standards in other countries, have time for promoting homosexuality is truly staggering.

Every special interest group has an incentive to take something away from society as a whole. Some will be content just to siphon off a share of the taxpayers’ money. But others want to dismantle some of the values that make a society viable.

They may not want to bring down the whole values structure, just get rid of the part that cramps their style. But when innumerable groups start dismantling pieces they don’t like, we can be headed for the sorts of social collapses seen both in history and in other parts of the world in our own times.

Thomas Sowell is a nationally syndicated columnist.