A quick note to the government-is-the-root-of-all-evil conspiracy theorists…

Dear anti-government conspiracy theorists,

I know I’m beating a dead horse here but seriously, the “government” is not at the root of all the world’s ills. It really, really isn’t.

When I started seeing this

receive competition from this

I wanted to punch myself in the face.

Repeatedly.

Because, frankly, it’d be less painful and way less annoying than trying to explain everything that was wrong with this notion. But before I could ball my hand into a fist and let the pummeling begin, I saw this

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And I thought it was awesome.

Not just because it brings into focus what’s at stake in the fight for marriage equality but it reminds us that our words and ideas are mere parts in a greater sum. When we talk about marriage, we refer to publicly expressed love and lifelong commitment. But in the fight for marriage equality we speak specifically of the legal recognition of these things between people of the same sex, too. And that matters.

Government is not “in charge” of marriage in any other way than by denying gay men and women the right to marry. Outside of that, government is the institution through which we mediate marriage’s intrinsic entanglements with other institutions – like, for instance, insurance companies. And, ya know, parenthood. And, hey, what about that American-as-cherry-pie institution known as divorce? Yes, yes, if you didn’t get married in the first place you wouldn’t have to get divorced. But if that’s the line of argument that you’re taking, then there should be no legal recognition of marriage at all. And if we go a little further down that rabbit hole then we find ourselves saying that there should be no government at all and then I start punching myself in the face.

Repeatedly.

Now I can understand if you would like to watch me punch myself. Sometimes I’m a dick and I probably deserve it. But if you don’t want government “in charge” of marriage, you would do yourself well in recognizing the difference between denying and facilitating rights as well as broadening your understanding of our relationship with our institutions. Drop the de-institutionalization nonsense of our parents’ generation and do or say something constructive rather than tout some contradictory Paulist idiocy that does little more than humor your friends’ struggle. Because when you say something like, “Real equality would be government that is not in charge of marriage,” you’re effectively saying, “You’re fight for marriage equality is pointless and silly, I don’t understand why you would want to get married anyway.” That, or, you’re just trying to sound smart…

…and failing.

Miserably.

Regards,

JSL

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