A Fictional Conversation on Marriage

Henry M. Halff

San Antonio, Texas

February 2004

Woodrow: So, Gus, what do you think about this gay marriage business. Lots of folks say we need a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.

Gus: Is that right, Woodrow. I thought the constitution was supposed to protect freedom, not restrict it.

Woodrow: Yeah, but this is about protecting the sacred institution of marriage, and that trumps freedom.

Gus: But, Woodrow, doesn’t the constitution guarantee each of us the right to decide what’s sacred and what’s not on our own?

Woodrow: Mostly, yes, but marriage is special. It’s a timeless and universal institution.

Gus: But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed over the centuries or that it’s the same for every couple.

Still, you’re bringing this up gets me to thinking about marriage and all that, and how much of the institution people really want to protect. I was looking through wedding ceremonies, and some of them do mention “this man and this woman” in passing, and there’s none with “husband and husband,” or “wife and wife.” But, you know what else I found in just about every wedding vow?

Woodrow: No, what?

Gus: Every wedding ceremony has words like “until death do you part.”

Woodrow: Well, of course they do. Marriages are supposed to last until one or t’other of the spouses die.

Gus: It don’t seem to me that this death-till-us-part bit is getting a hell of lot of protection these days. Seems to me that we need a constitutional amendment banning divorce a lot more than we need one banning gay and lesbian weddings.

Woodrow: Don’t be silly, Gus. It’s not the same.

Gus: What’s not the same about it, Woodrow?

Woodrow: Well, uh, well, uh, ….

Gus: I’ll tell you what’s not the same. People are a lot more willing to make someone else’s sins illegal than to make their own illegal. There are too many divorced people to make divorce illegal and there just may be too few gays and lesbians to prevent gay and lesbian marriages from becoming illegal.

Woodrow: There’s lots of gays and lesbians, Gus. You’d know that if you’d ever been to San Francisco. It’s disgusting, what they do in that Castro district.

Gus: You mean the promiscuity, the steam baths, jumping from one bed to another, the whole gay lifestyle, thing, right?

Woodrow: Yeah, the gay lifestyle. They sure ain’t like us.

Gus: Well, gee Woodrow, if we don’t like the fact that they ain’t like us, why would we make it illegal for them to marry, settle down, and become more like us?

Woodrow: Because they engage in sodomy, Gus, and that ain’t right.

Gus: Maybe, but it ain’t illegal. And if you don’t want them having sex with each other, Woodrow, how do you want them to live?

Woodrow: Well, they should change. Find a lover of the opposite sex, get married and settle down.

Gus: You think they could do that, eh?

Woodrow: Why not?

Gus: Well, do you think you could become gay, Woodrow?

Woodrow: I hope you’re not suggesting what I think you’re suggesting.

Gus: I’ll take that as a “No.” So, if you can’t change from straight to gay, how can you expect some gay guy or lesbian to become straight?

Woodrow: Well, maybe they can’t. But if they can’t, they could just not have sex at all.

Gus: You think that’s practical. You’re going to ask all the gays and lesbians just to give up sex? Do you think that you could give up sex?

Woodrow: Now, Gus, that’s not a fair question.

Gus: I’ll tell you what I think, Woodrow. I think that if you look around, you’ll see all sorts of marriages, some good, some bad. The same can be said for marriage customs. I just can’t figure how denying a gay couple or a lesbian couple the right to settle down and form a household like you and I can do serious damage to the institution; and it seems like it would make life better for all of us.

Woodrow: And, I’ll tell you what, I think, Gus. I think I’ll have a beer.

Gus. First sensible thing you’ve said, Woodrow. You reckon there’ll ever be a constitutional amendment banning beer?

Woodrow: It’s been tried, Gus. Didn’t work so good.

Gus: Yeah, how soon we forget.