Same-sex marriage is happening. So?

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The less time we spend on this, the more we might realize what sort of mess we’re in

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
UTMikeColLogoSame sex couples, it would seem, can drive a short distance from Chester County and obtain a marriage license.

At the same time, our state Attorney General is refusing to defend the state’s defense of marriage act — a law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman and bears a lot of resemblance to the federal law struck down not long ago by the U.S. Supreme Court.

And of course, for comic relief, the always entertaining State Rep. Darryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) is offering a series of rants making him sound a bit like Bill Murray in Ghostbusters (“cats and dogs, living together….”) and generally explaining why we’re all going to Hell (I’ve been to D.C., how much worse can Hell be?) if we allow this sort of stuff in the commonwealth.

So, yeah, this is what passes for civil discourse in Pennsylvania these days.

Let me confuse the issue with a few facts:

Same-sex marriage is legal in Pennsylvania. Performing one might not yet be, but if you got married somewhere else, you’re married. Yup. Go read your U.S. Constitution and check out the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

For those of you too lazy (which based on voter turn out, is a lot of folks), or unable to understand (Tea Party members) here is the key passage:

“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

Basically, it means that my drivers license issued in Pennsylvania is valid in Virginia. Or, in my case, my marriage performed and licensed in Virginia is valid in Pennsylvania, too. Thus, a same-sex marriage performed in Delaware also has to be honored in Pennsylvania.

The courts haven’t quite gotten there yet (a recent Ohio ruling is among the first) but pending suits in this state will make it moot. No amount of faux outrage can overcome such a basic tenant of law.

So, it a greater sense, the fact that Montgomery County is offering marriage licenses to same sex couples — and yes, my sense is that it’s kind of a thin publicity stunt by Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, one of the state’s most ambitious politicians — is basically bending to the inevitable, albeit in a politically expedient and pandering way.

I’m even less thrilled with Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s refusal to defend the state’s ban in court — not that I agree with it — in short, she’s failing to do the job she was elected to do.

Ask any number of defense attorneys whether they think their clients are guilty and privately some will suggest they are and deserving of harsh penalties — and yet they still defend them. That’s their job. Kane had to know when running for this office that laws like this come with the territory. Like it or not, Kane has an obligation to defend the state here, even, maybe even especially when its laws violate the U.S. Constitution and are kind of asinine.

Which brings us to Metcalfe.

With the state facing all sorts of issues raging from the potential of bridges collapsing into rivers (and Metcalfe’s blocking of the transportation bill to further enhance the chances of that) to pensions, this issue is sucking the oxygen out of the room, in a cynical, pandering attempt to play politics.

I’d completely ignore Metcalfe if there weren’t one or two local state representatives running in his posse of hate and stupidity (remember Metcalfe cited “God’s law” as the reason for preventing another state representative from speaking on the floor of the House earlier this year).

For a second, let’s assume that same-sex marriage is the most important issue facing Pennsylvania right now and deserves more than a shrug and acceptance of its inevitability.

So….why is it such a scourge and such a threat to heterosexual marriage?

“Well, because it is.” Yeah. Okay. That explains it all.

Maybe there’s something wrong with me (okay, probably), but when I hear about a couple of guys getting married my first thought (or even 50th) isn’t “Wow. I should dump my wife and try that out.” So, I’m missing the threat to “traditional” marriage.

“We have to defend marriage.” From what? At the current divorce rate, the biggest threat to marriage would appear to be…wait for it…people getting married (followed quickly by said married people cheating on their spouse). I see no compelling reason not to allow gay folks to mess up at being married just like us straight folks.

The Bible says it’s wrong (so claims Metcalfe). The same verse in Leviticus cited for homosexuality being bad also bans real estate transactions, tattoos, mistreating foreigners (uh oh, anti-immigration folks), seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (and there goes the entire state legislature to Hell), spreading slander (ditto), poly blend fabrics in clothing (yoga pants: a sin against God!) and dozens of other things that happen daily without indignation from elected officials, including: and make sure you’re sitting for this one: bacon.

In fact, a close reading of the Bible makes it clear that having a same-sex spouse isn’t nearly as bad as chowing down on a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich (add mayo, and it’s all over, brother).

And, maybe it’s me, but I haven’t seen Metcalfe out there calling for an immediate ban of pork roll to comply with “God’s law.” Although a few protest marches at Red Lobster might be a good thing, to be honest. And maybe Olive Garden, too, for that matter.

So, like Shapiro and Kane, Metcalfe and his posse of politasmurfs aren’t really acting from anything like conviction, but a rather cynical political motivation.

You see, Metcalfe (like more than a couple of state legislators around here) wants you to forget that he voted for the midnight pay hike and the pension expansion that enriched them and exploded your real estate tax bill. They want you to forget that Pennsylvania is about 80th in the U.S. in job growth (okay, 46th). They want you to forget that our roads are crumbling, our schools are failing and most legislators are wholly owned subsidiaries of various special interest groups, left and right.

So they trot out “gay marriage” or “abortion” — and both Republicans and Democrats do it — political shiny keys to distract you from what’s really going on, how by and large these folks aren’t doing their jobs.

When this state is facing real issues, nothing will get done as long as we allow these cynical distractions to keep from holding each and every one of these folks accountable.

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