The Pennsylvania legislature is now debating whether or not to legalize gay marriage. One hears the usual, the predictable arguments from both sides in this debate. But the other day I heard one argument from people opposing the right of gays to marry that had never occurred to me—the possibility that if we allow this to go forward in Pennsylvania it would put us on a slippery slope that could lead to legalizing inter-species marriage.
I like to think of myself as a pretty liberal guy when it comes to others’ personal relations. Inter-species marriage, though, hit a nerve. The sight of a beautiful June bride sharing a kiss at the altar with an orangutan, or the wedding night doings of a newly-minted groom with a muskrat, well, that slippery slope was disorienting.
But strangely, as I thought the matter through more carefully, a very different notion came to mind. In fact, I now believe we should give very serious consideration to legalizing inter-species marriages because they are not only already quite common, but are needed as a matter of simple equity.
Be honest. How many people do you know who like their pets more than their spouses? How many show greater affection to these other-specie individuals than the man or woman to whom they are formally wed? Do you think the woman who purrs at her cat while stroking behind its ears lovingly does that kind of thing with hubby? Do you think the guy who rolls around in the yard with Fido, sharing nips and growls, engages in that kind of affectionate play with his legal partner? If you love a pet that much, why not be able to legally tie the knot?
There’s also more than affection at stake here. A pet gets sick, who pays the vet? Your company health insurance policy? Medicare or Medicaid? And if you pass away before the little one, who gets the Social Security? Not the long-time pet true-companion of the deceased.
Look. I know legal inter-species marriage is not a popular cause, and the country may not be ready to go down this slope just yet. So let me offer this compromise: civil unions. And so as not offend the sensibilities of opponents too much (at least not at first], I also suggest that such unions be limited to creatures with four limbs or less.