If, as the conservative right argues, marriage must be defined exclusively as the joining of one man to one woman, it could have devastating consequences for America's economy.
The public debate thus far has focused on the impact on the gay community if the one-man-one-woman formulation were to become universally recognized. What has been virtually ignored, however, is the profound damage to the economy that would be wrought if other "non-traditional" relationships were relegated to second class status.
By way of example, a General Accounting Office report reveals that since 1990, 11 million names have been added to the roster of those married to their jobs. The conservative right argues that man-job relationships are not only non-traditional but also unhealthy, rendering them ineligible for marital status.
But public opinion is clearly trending in the other direction. As a recent college graduate remarked, "My friends laugh and say, 'If you love your job so much, why don't you marry it?' Well, if City Hall were open at three in the morning, I would."
The conservative advocates of the one-man-one-woman definition of marriage cite in support of their position that ever since the earth was created ten thousand years ago, a marital relationship has had the narrow definition which they advocate. A key fact supporting their view, they say, is that the ability to produce progeny is an indispensable attribute of marriage.
While the point has produced great heat in the argument between the "traditionalists" and the gay community, it is moot as to the man-job relationship. There are warehouses filled with data proving that man-job partners can and do produce a variety of offspring. For example, a Wall Street lawyer whose job is to document a start-up deal will on average produce three-and-a-half tons of legal documents. That same lawyer-job marriage will result in the production of 27 iPhones, 174 Per Se takeout meals, a Gulfstream G550, and the lease of an apartment that can be used by the lawyer for various diversions when the job is out-of-town visiting its mother.
It is curious, to say the least, that those claiming the current administration has not done enough to spur the economy are virtually unanimous in opposing a no-cost measure that will go a long way towards helping this country back to its feet.
It is already clear that the opposition to legal recognition of man-job marriage will be fierce and unyielding in this campaign year. Indeed, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has already drawn a line in the sand. As he recently told Fox News: "It has always been my position that marriage can only be between one man and one woman unless the man or the woman is irremediably attached to his or her twin and the twin is of the same-sex, in which case I'd argue that it's still a marriage of one man and one woman."
"And in case anyone is still unclear as to how strongly I feel that marriage must be accorded only to a male-female relationship, I'd point out that although I've had many opportunities to do otherwise, I have consistently and repeatedly put my political life on the line by refusing to be married to my own prior positions."