05/24/2006 02:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

An Open Memo to Bill Frist

"I basically say, Mr. Vice President, right now marriage is under attack in this country," Mr. Frist said. "And we've seen activist judges overturning state by state law, where state legislatures have passed laws defining marriage between a man and a woman, and that's being overturned by a handful of activist judges around the country. And that is why we need an amendment to come to the floor of the United States Senate to define marriage as that union between one man and one woman."

--Insight On the News, 5/23/06

TO: Bill Frist
FROM: Ellis Weiner
Re: Marriage

You're right, of course. Marriage is under attack. But what isn't? There's a War on Christmas. There's a War on Easter, or at least the enemy has made threatening gestures toward Easter eggs. There are invasions, incursions, and insurgent uprisings against Tu B'Shvat, Penguin Awareness Day, National Podiatry Week, National Hot Breakfast Month, and Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Day (March 26; Hawaii). Everything good and decent in this country is under constant, unrelenting, murderous attack, all the time. You can't go to a TGIF beer blast without stopping shrapnel and taking casualties.

So I'm all for your plan to want to define marriage as being "between one man and one woman." But there's a dirty little question hiding in the heart of this thing, and neither you nor any of our other brave, selfless, patriotic defenders of what's right have seen fit to confront it. And since no one else seems to have the guts to talk about it openly, to your face, I'll presume to do so right now:


Because, obviously, I "get it," okay? Somehow, one Representative Man and Woman, a man best qualified to stand for all men, and his female counterpart, are chosen to enact, for all Americans, the sacred ritual of marriage.

And what a ritual it will be, combining the most heart-warming, most devout, and most rollickingly fun aspects of the Jewish, Christian, Moslem, and other religious forms of the marriage ceremony. Will it be catered? Up the "wazoo." Will there be a band? Hey--there'll be three bands. Will there be amusing toasts and embarrassing glass-clinking to coerce the happy couple to enact the sacred public smooch? Hell, yes.

Will there be a reception line a mile long, tearful hugs and hearty handshakes? Will envelopes be surreptitiously handed over and slipped into tuxedo jackets? Will the men get plastered, the women compare wardrobes, children dance with their grandparents, and the maids of honor and the groom's men find ways of "hooking up" in rooms off to the side? You bet! And all of it, from the ushers' seating the (thousands of) guests, to the last great-aunt shoving tiny éclairs into her purse and barking commands to her daughter to take the centerpiece, on international television.

After which, the Bride and her Groom will become--has anyone else suggested this? I think I thought of it first--the First Husband and First Wife (and, indeed, the Only Husband and Wife) of the United States of America.

Imagine the honor. Imagine the presents. Imagine the thank-you notes their busy staff will be sending long past the traditionally-allotted year.

But imagine, too, the dangers. Because as the only married couple in these still-somewhat-United States, they will be called upon to subject themselves to the war on marriage that now, as you so properly point out, endangers us all with such cruelty and barbarism and everything.

They, and they alone, will be our stand-ins, our designated combatants. They will be the ones to fight back--in hand-to-hand combat, if necessary--against those activist judges that want nothing more than to destroy the very fabric of the being of the country of our society. Are you familiar with the famous story by Shirley Jones called "The Lottery"? No, wait--she was in Oklahoma! That was a musical about getting married, but never mind. I mean Shirley Jackson. Anyway, it kind of applies here.

Where was I? Oh, yes: The question is, how will the lucky--if that is indeed what they are--couple be chosen? Random computer selection? Forget it; everyone knows the government's computers are hackable and rigged. If we can't vote for President with confidence, how the hell are we supposed to trust Diebold to pick our First Newlyweds? State-by-state competition? Good Lord--in what? Powerball-type number-matching? Maybe.

Whatever the solution, shouldn't this be worked out before we bother the state legislatures with a Constitutional amendment? Shouldn't the means of selecting the couple (and, now that I think of it, the Best Man, Bride's Maids, and Ring Bearers) be, in fact, specified in the Amendment too?

And there are other concerns. What happens to people--like you, yes, and like me--who are currently married? Well, by definition, they'll have to become un-married. The mechanism for that will have to be incorporated into the Amendment as well.

Sure, it's laborious and complicated. But it should be. This is important. It addresses a real threat to our way of life, it's something most people clearly agree on, and it represents a perfect example of what government should do as embodied in the conservative values you hold so dear. By restricting marriage to a single man and a single woman, we are ensuring maximum freedom for all citizens (except them). What kind of freedom? The freedom from the War on Marriage, of course.

This is a matter of universal concern and expresses our collective will as a people. Why else enshrine it in the Constitution?

(I almost forgot: Another question has been asked, ad nauseam on the nightly talk shows, viz., Will the un-married couples still be allowed to have sex? Please. As if the government could be at all competent or credible in dictating people's sex lives.)

I appreciate your determination to get this matter resolved, the better to protect every other current husband and wife, of any sex, throughout the U.S. So think about what I discuss above and get back to me, to us, to the entire nation.

But make it snappy. Don't you know there's a war on?