So what's the glory in living?
Doesn't anybody ever stay together anymore?
And if love never lasts forever
Tell me what's forever for
Throwing love away and losing their minds… good love is hard to come by…. Rafe VanHoy penned these lyrics in the late 70s and Michael Martin Murphey launched it onto the top of the Billboard charts in 1982. I remember painting the inside of our neighbor's stove shop on a cold February morning with my radio blaring Anne Murray's earlier rendition of this song in Ephrata Pennsylvania in 1981. And the answer to VanHoy's question in 2015 is a resounding, "Not Many!" Less than half of American households contain a married couple. In a world where "settling down" was supposed to mark the end of promiscuity and a lifetime of "loving commitment", neither of these are seen as relevant to the majority of Americans. The Puritanical notion that sex and marriage are inextricable has been vigorously promoted - often by those who themselves live with "guilt" from their own polyamorous physical pasts - as an ideal to which few aspire and even fewer uphold. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nearly 1/3 of the entire U.S. population has a sexually transmitted disease so the odds of a health based argument for fidelity is a modern statistical fallacy. Nearly a third of married men and women in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and California have been married more than twice making the idyllic "lifetime" marriage illusion an anachronism. In short, the nonsensical "defense of marriage" campaign that alleged an apocalyptic end of days result from this week's Supreme Court decision upholding the 14th Amendment argument of equal protection picked a diaphanous fig leaf to mask their pretense of intolerant fear.
Marriage is now available to all Americans regardless of sexual orientation. And this is consistent with the spirit and letter of the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court decision is not about sex. This decision is not about morality. This decision is about the FACT that the Constitution of the United States affords equal protection and, in an effort to legislate morality, financial incentives were created to coerce people into marriage with the cunning cooption and manipulation of the theater of religious endorsement. When it was passed on July 9, 1868, the 14th Amendment had two objectives: first, to define the principle that people (regardless of origin) were people; and, second, to confirm that the public debts we incur we're obligated to repay. It's ironic that, this week, we're demonstrating that our efforts to legislate equal treatment of humanity and faith and confidence in keeping the financial promises that we make are as inadequate now as they were in the sunset of the Civil War. And for those who actually pay attention, the same Bible that is used to argue against homosexuality contains the presumption of slavery, instructions on polygamy, and endorsement of the abusive treatment of those not like the "chosen". In 1868, plenty of end-of-days prophets railed against the notion that people with different colored skin should be treated as people. Like this week, the defense of bigotry comes most loudly from those who allegedly take their cues from a man who encouraged tolerance for the other - including bureaucrats, tax collectors and prostitutes!
Behind every smokescreen - particularly when religious fervor is flamed into zealotry - there's usually a substantive issue that is not being discussed. Why would States be so desperate to keep marriages from happening? Why would we be more concerned about homosexual lifestyles than Blue on Black murders that seem to be epidemic in their frequency? Why would self-proclaimed christians feign moral consternation about love and sex while staying silent in the face of state-sanctioned murder perpetrated in defense of "our values"? I think that the answer is simple. We The People are predictably manipulated into fearing the other for the economic benefit of a few.
Who loses economically if gays and lesbians marry? Well, for starters - taxation authorities. Tax rates are lower for married couples. IRA contributions are greater if spouses use each other's earnings for maximum contributions. Transfers of assets in death are treated differently between spouses. In short, marriage conveys real economic benefit. And given that marriage and affluence have been strongly correlated (a correlation that is growing), extending marriage economic benefits to people who chose a homosexual partnership means that a broader swath of the affluent population may diminish tax collections. Certain employers fear the possibility that they may have to extend benefits to more spouses failing to contemplate that respecting the quality of life of their employees could more than offset in productivity the cost of such benefits. But chief among the losers are those politicians who have built their power dynasties on preying on "wedge issues" that conveniently divide "conservatives" and "liberals". With the 14th Amendment losses to abortion and marriage, how is the average Bible belt extremist politician going to get elected? How are they going to raise money? How can we expect a democracy to function when we don't have the "other" to fear and hate?
And that's the real economic driver. Fear and Hate. We've built economic systems that measure and celebrate Fear. Tomorrow when the markets take a hit, it will be blamed on Greece. This is the same Greece who hosted the 2004 Olympics where, in the name of defense from terrorism, a country was forced to pay U.S. defense contractors exorbitant sums of money to "protect the games" while funneling millions to "freedom fighters" who have now turned their guns on their benefactors. And we enrich our coffers on Hatred. The U.S. Administration which swore to be the "most transparent" in history has used hatred for Chinese economic influence to craft the most secretive trade agreement in modern times paling against Reagan's economic cold war with Japan in the early 80s. We haven't built economics based on productive engagement but rather on separation and defense of scarcity.
Which brings me to the song. Love lasting forever is and has been seen as an idyllic condition shrouded in make-believe illusions of marriage, patriotism, and religion. Yet these very institutions in reality have been the bastions of intolerance, fear and hatred. If we're ever going to answer the question of "forever", we're going to have to see the rainbow not as an emblem of tolerance against the tyranny of hatred but rather for what it actually is - the diffraction of light that allows us to see that it takes all wavelengths to illumine Reality!