03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Let's Not and Say We Did: Introducing the "Fill-In" as Gay Civil Disobedience

I'm not a big fan of the institution of marriage. I don't think human beings, particularly of the male variety, are particularly well-suited to monogamy for life, and statistics on divorce and infidelity would tend to bear me out. I also question the premise that anyone should be granted enhanced social or legal standing based on their relational status, because it creates two classes of citizens--the married on one side, the single and divorced on the other. I'm almost surprised that no one's ever challenged this division as a violation of equal protection under the law.

I also believe that much of what makes many gay relationships special arose precisely because we couldn't get married. We are more likely to stay together out of genuine compatibility than a sense of social expectation. Our breakups tend to be less bitter than heterosexual divorces, as evidenced by how much more often we stay friends with our exes. I fear with marriage, we'll lose as much as we'll gain.

Still, I have no delusions that society is going to abandon marital culture any time soon. We've been raised on the idea that we are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of a soulmate, and the psychological and economic clout of the industrial wedding complex is considerable. And unfortunately, being skeptical of the wisdom of pursuing gay marriage rights puts me on the same side of some people I can't bear to be on the same side of. It also probably puts me on the wrong side of history. Gay marriage will prevail as a matter of demography, as the generation weaned on Will and Grace supplants the aging values-voters as they depart for the great ballot box in the sky.

There's another reason for my change of heart. With $60 million spent on our side alone so far, the sooner this fight is over, the sooner we can free up the gay sociopolitical dollar for causes that are more life and death than till death do us part (see HIV, Teen Suicide, Gays in Developing Nations, etc.) If for that reason alone, I throw in the anti-marriage towel, but also suggest a new, far faster strategy to get there from here,

I propose a novel campaign of civil disobedience for the 21st century. We need to replace the sit-in with the "fill-in." On every tax form, employment application, and beneficiary designation, committed couples need to check "married" and put down the name of their significant others. This is non-violent resistance for the age of the internet. If only 25% of new spousal names made it into databases, within a fairly short time the system would be flooded with so many new husbands and wives as to make disentangling defacto marriage from legal marriage an impossibility.

The freedom riders didn't wait for the laws against segregation to be changed before integrating public facilities, and neither should gays wait for marriage laws to change before getting married. The time has come to become the change we are waiting for, literally.

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