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Equal protection by any other name is the same

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Column by Jim Flynn

In the 19th century and the first 50 years of the 20th, many poorly paid, unmarried teachers, particularly females, lived together out of financial necessity. Whether their living arrangements were anything other than shared expenses was seldom questioned.
Of course there were village busy biddies who would speculate in social circles about teachers living together, without any factual information on which to base whispered suspicions about sexuality. Gossipers feed on subjects which are none of their business.
Opposite sex living together was less tolerated. Shared living by opposite-sex teachers would have resulted in the discharge of both participants, even if their arrangement were chaste. Today opposite-sex living arrangements are more common than matrimony (see 2010 U.S. Census).
Here in the 21st century there is a political impetus to establish spousal rights for same-sex partners, by legalizing the couplings and calling them marriages.
When he first ran for national office President Obama said “I am not willing to have the states deny American citizens a civil union that confers equivalent rights on such basic matters as hospital visitation or health insurance coverage simply because the people they love are of the same sex.”
More recently Mr. Obama said his opinion has evolved. He endorsed same-sex marriage. We think Mr. Obama’s earlier position – civil unions - was correct and in keeping with rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Since aboriginal times, sexual selection has meant the choice made by a man or woman of a member of the opposite sex.
In civilized western culture the legal definition of marriage has been affirmed in many cases, over centuries: “A civil status of one man and one woman united in law for life, to discharge for each other and for the community the duties legally incumbent on those whose association is founded on the distinction of sex.” In other words, fidelity and procreation of the human species.
Authority to perform marriages is granted by states to judges, court clerks, justices of the peace, and clergy members, who must report marriages performed to the office which issued the license.
Catholic marriages, Jewish marriages, Orthodox marriages, Muslim marriages, and other rituals by which a couple may choose to declare the essence of their mutual commitment, are ceremonies which are not essential to establishing a legal marriage.
The issue of legalizing same-sex couplings isn’t going away. Thirty-one states have banned same-sex marriage. Four others will consider the subject in the fall elections.
We have no argument with assuring the benefits of our constitution to same-sex couples, but under some description other than marriage. That term was defined long before Adam and Eve.
So-called same-sex marriage is legal in six states. which were too lazy, inept, or intimidated to give the couplings a distinguishing name – such as linkage, joynage, unionage, partnerage, mergerage, symphisage (growing together), or just plain civil union.