Folks opposed to marriage equality argue that if gays and lesbians are permitted that state-sanctioned status, it will have the effect of destroying heterosexual marriages. In response, they promote legislation ostensibly designed to protect this venerable institution. Most liberals campaign against these measures, on the grounds that they are unfair (what part of “equal protection of the laws” is unclear?) and irrational (straights have done a pretty good job of marriage destruction all on their own).
My view is: if we’re going to use the legislative process to protect heterosexual marriages, let’s pass laws that might actually reduce stress and promote harmony in those marriages. These measures would “save” those marriages in the sense that the people in them would remain happy with one another and therefore married, rather than in the way that opponents of gay marriage think it works: that we’ll only stay together if we can smugly monopolize the legal label for our relationships.
Warning: what follows traffics in the basest of gender stereotypes, derived directly from my own 16-year experience with heterosexual marriage.
The Bathroom Separation Act. Men and women were not meant to share bathrooms. The vast genetic differences in cleanliness perception and many practical differences in paraphernalia make sharing facilities a source of stress in 55% of heterosexual marriages.* Under this proposed legislation, all new homes will be required to have two completely separate bathrooms adjacent to the master bedroom and money will be allocated from the federal budget to retrofit houses of married heteros with one extra master bath.
The Laundry Technology Act. All new washers and dryers will be equipped with control panels of equal or greater complexity to a sound system of comparable price. In addition, federal regulations will require garment labels to include one of the following two statements, as appropriate: “This Goes In the Light Wash,” or “This Goes In the Dark Wash.” At least 43%* of the bickering in hetero marriages concerns lack of laundry participation by one of the two genders commonly found in those unions. This measure will not only promote increased participation, but will ensure that the result is not uniformly pink.
Music Parity Regulations. FCC regulations will require at least one station in each broadcast area to play folk rock and heavy metal tunes on a strictly alternating basis. Imagine the heterosexual marriages — not to mention lives — saved by not having driver and passenger switching constantly among stations in search of (to take a completely random example) Boston or The Indigo Girls.
Quality Motion Picture Act. At least five movies each year will be required to have both exciting action sequences (car chases; explosions; zombies) and a plot with believable, grown-up dialog and characters. Hetero marriages will flourish when husbands and wives not only attend but enjoy the same movies.
Full Funding for Public Education, Universal Health Care and Assisted Living Act. Approximately 95%* of the fights in heterosexual marriages concern the kids’ schools, the doctor’s bills, and how to care for the in-laws without having them actually move in. The FFPEUHCALA will ensure high quality public education, availability of heath care without forgoing food and heat, and a comfortable, safe old age for your in-laws** somewhere other than your home. This legislation will avoid at least 3.2 million* heterosexual divorces each year. In addition, just imagine all the quality time hetero couples will have in lieu of the hundreds of hours they now spend filling out insurance forms, fighting with insurance companies, filling out more forms, waiting on hold to insurance companies, and figuring out how to pay for things they already bought insurance to pay for.
Let’s see if those anti-marriage-equality folks really want to protect hetero marriage — let’s see if they’ll support all this crucial legislation.
* All statistics in this post are invented out of whole cloth. They sure sound about right, though, don’t they?
** Love ya, Denver & Nora!