July, 2003:
Is There a Lone Marksman in the Editorial Book Suppository?

Science fiction writers and editors (when they are not acting as horror and dark fantasy acolytes, as we often do here) are supposed to be the thinkers about the future, meaning at times we actually form intelligent and thoughtful positions on real life issues rather than dwelling on the endowments of buxom green maidens or the girth of a warrior's hyper-inflated bicep. Sometimes, ours will be controversial positions. This seems to be one of those months for me. It is also one of those moments when it seems prudent to state that any editorial opinions I gargle forth are my own views and do not necessarily represent the views of the readers (hahaha), nor of the many good persons who make this magazine possible—hence the lone swiper postulation.

Yrs./'umbly has lived in a variety of countries and had the opportunity to sample their best and worst (which includes my nation of birth as well as choice, this land which is my land, this land which is your land, from sea to shining sea, yea with all its purple prose and verbosity). I sometimes contemplate alternative solutions found in other lands, and wonder if in the U.S. I am the only shooter from this hip, the lone marksman in this book suppository, the sole bat in such and such a belfry.

Take for example the zeppelinfuls of wasted breath expended upon the Simplizissimus debate about "gay marriage." The Constitution indicates a preference for keeping Government and Religion(s) separate, in order that people who vehemently disagree with that proposition shall not awaken one morning and find that someone else's "cult" has unexpectedly become the nation's official religion. We have gay taxpayers who, oddly enough, seem to want the same rights (and obligations) as straight people. They'd prefer not being lynched in public by people claiming they must do so out of a profound sense of Christianity. They'd like to be able to will their property to their lifelong companion with the same tax breaks straight couples get, or having their companion be allowed to visit them when they are ill. How gauche of them.

Why, arguably, are men who wear fluffy robes and claim to speak with supernatural beings permitted to perform binding marriage contracts (including at the church where I go of a Sunday)? Isn't that a mingling of Government and Religion? Wouldn't it be so much more Constitutional to do like in many European nations (despite the dumb things Europeans think and do in a great many other ways), where there is a civil contract, signed by two persons before a civil magistrate with no religious content whatsoever. I repeat: not the faintest shred of religious or supernatural content. Religious "ministers" are not permitted to administer such contracts. The U.S. equivalent might be a justice of the peace. After this life contract is finished, in Germany for example, the couple are then free to either have or not have a religious "wedding" or they can get "married" in whatever church they want-and their church ceremony has no legal standing whatsoever. Either way, they are already joined in the eyes of the law through their civil contract, which is simply a contract like any other.

This will of course horrify those who feel the U.S. is an extension of their particular religious persuasion—not necessarily mine or *gasp* yours—but they will get used to it as they got used to slaves being freed or women getting the vote. They may not like it, but the law exists equally for all persons, not just any one group, so tough toottee.

We should have a civil contract that entirely takes care of the business and legal end of things. Then those who are so inclined can have a religious "wedding" or "marriage" in whatever supernatural or philosophical flavor they prefer, and everyone will be, if not happy, at least not at each other's throats. We do have so many real issues going on, like poverty, yes?

Addendum: As always, when I turn to mi esposa, a.k.a. mein Liebchen, a.k.a. ma chère, I am informed that we already have this system here, sorta. All ya gotta do is get the paper signed by your J.P. and you're married or wedded or joined or contractually obligated, whatever one wants to call it. So if we can extend this feature to all citizens (perhaps using a less loaded Pavlovian trigger of salivation and violence than the word "marriage"), problem solved.

We are the only major industrialized nation that does not extend a fundamental human right of equal health care to its citizens. I'll wax eloquent on that in a speculative futuristic sermonette soon. Meanwhile, please: keep thinking outside the box, do unto others as you'd have them do unto you, enjoy the fine authors we keep discovering, and have a wonderful summer.