Check out the front page of the Globe -- the world has not ceased to spin on its axis now that same-sex couples will be issued marriage licenses in Massachusetts. In the rather unscientific Globe online poll, 66% of respondents support the ruling...though it looks like the SJC itself is all torn up over this. It seems the dissenting justices feel the "squabbling" over the name of the institution (i.e. "marriage" vs. "civil union") is trivial, and not a constitutional issue. Hmm, I wonder if the parties in the Dred Scott case thought the question of whether black people were "citizens" or not was trivial? Imagine if the state decided to hand out "marriage licenses" only to people who were able to bear children (procreation being the point of marriage, according to one argument), and created a "parallel" system for the older and/or infertile people whereby they were issued "partnership licenses." Don't you think that "semantic" distinction would enrage some people? Imagine if on "Sex and the City" Miranda and Steve were able to get married, but Charlotte and Harry had to get "partnered." Or on "Friends," same deal -- Ross and Rachel (those libertine co-parents) could tie the knot traditionally, but Chandler and Monica, being barren, are only "life partners," even if they adopt a baby. I can hear the whining already...

But seriously, people are clinging to this "Just don't call it a marriage" argument, as if all marriages were not civil unions too. That's right, married folks -- your marriage license (not the ceremony) is a civil privilege, no more sanctified than a hunting license or a parking sticker. John Kerry himself said last night, "I think marriage is what is sanctified between a man and a woman by God." Um, that's great -- but the last time I checked, God didn't have anything to do with handing out state licenses. I think there is a real need for a basic public education campaign on this issue -- I think many people don't understand (and surely the Catholic church isn't going to correct them) that this ruling does not tell any religious organizations whom they must marry in their services. Perhaps we can ask Dick Wolf to head this campaign -- last night's episode of "Law & Order" was eerily topical, it not only dealt with a lesbian custody dispute, they actually talked about the SJC's ruling! DUN-DUN!!!

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