Referendum 71 has nothing to do with fairness

Backers of Referendum 71, which would essentially confer marital status on civil unions between same-sex partners in Washington state, would have you believe the issue boils down to simple equality.

And it’s understandable, given the fundamental fairness of the American character, they’d want to frame the argument in those terms.

But of course the issue has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with using the mechanism of government to validate their chosen lifestyle — something government has no business doing.

For purposes of illustration, let’s boil the fairness argument down to the frequent sound bite, “We want equal rights,” and deconstruct it word by word to see how well it stands up.

• “We.” Just exactly who, and how many, are we talking about here? Specifically, what percentage of the population is homosexual anyway?

You’ll get a lot of different answers to that question, but the more rigorous studies (Bell-Weinberg, Billy-Battelle, Cameron-Ross, Catania-NABS, FRI, MacDonald, NCHS, etc.) have shown results from a low of 0.6 to a high 5.4 percent.

Based on these, the average would be roughly 2 percent.

And what percentage have any desire to marry? Again, it’s hard to say, but statistics show that about 86 percent of heterosexual adults will be married at least once in their lifetimes. Which means that even if you assume the same percentage of gays are interested in marriage — and no sensible person would — you still wind up with a number even smaller than the 2 percent of the population you started with.

But let’s get even more personal. Since it’s generally accepted that governments sanction marriage for the purpose of promoting stable family situations for dependent children rather than simply raising the self-esteem of the bride and groom, let’s calculate the comparative likelihood of heterosexual and homosexual couples being parents.

While research cited by the American Association of University Professors shows that 87 percent of all heterosexual women and 81 percent of men reproduce at some point in their lives, the number is exactly zero percent for homosexual couples.

But what about adoption, you ask?

It turns out the peak year for adoption in the United States was 1970, when roughly 175,000 children were adopted. Most years the total hovers around 150,000.

Figuring that there were 68 million married couples in this country as of the most recent U.S. Census, that means only .2 percent of heterosexual couples adopt children in any given year.

So even if we assume same-sex couples want to adopt at the same rate — again, an absurd assumption — you still wind up with an infinitesimally small number — .2 percent of 2 percent.

The question is why precisely is it necessary to redefine the family and water down an institution that’s worked spectacularly well for thousands of years just to help a statistically invisible number of people feel better about themselves?

• “Want.” Same-sex couples and their sympathizers don’t “want” different standards. They demand them.

Take, for example, the familiar lament about enabling homosexual partners to visit each other in the hospital or be covered under their insurance policy.

There’s no law preventing either thing now. Hospitals are free to establish any policy they wish for visitors and plenty of insurance companies do allow clients to list their homosexual partners as dependents.

But this isn’t about choice. It’s about compelling hospitals, insurance companies and other private enterprises to recognize homosexual relationships as the equal of heterosexual whether they choose to or not.

In short, it’s the government defining morality — which, as everyone knows, it should never do.

• “Equal.” This is an easy one. Same-sex couples swear up and down all they want is the same thing heterosexual couples have, but the fact is, they already have it.

By law, everyone can already marry anyone they like — as long as both parties are of consenting age, not closely related and of differing sexes.

That may not be exactly what homosexual couples want, but it doesn’t make what they’re actually getting any less than what anyone else has.

Suppose you and I both go over to a friend’s house for dinner and she serves liver. Even though you like it and I hate it, haven’t we been treated equally?

Or does our hostess need to prepare two entrees just to spare my feelings?

By that standard, do we also need to allow people to marry multiple partners, underage partners or their siblings just to be fair them, too?

Where do you draw the line?

In any case, the equality argument doesn’t wash because as long as the same rule is applied consistently to everyone, by definition you have equality.

• “Rights.” Black’s Law Dictionary defines “rights” as “powers of free action ... and the primal rights pertaining to men are enjoyed by human beings purely as such.”

In other words, rights are those things we have simply by virtue of being born — the right to speak our minds, associate with whomever we please, move from place to place, etc.

Marriage, however, isn’t a “right” no matter what your sexual preference may be. It is a privilege, like a driver’s license, granted by the government, and for which the applicant must possess certain qualifications before it can be bestowed.

The distinction is an important one because it assigns a burden of proof.

For a right to be withheld, the burden rests with the state to prove the person in question has forfeited it. For a privilege, however, the burden of proof rests with the applicant to show why he or she is entitled to enjoy it.

With respect to the privilege of marriage and civil unions, as shown above, that burden simply hasn’t been met for same-sex couples.

On the one hand, you have a microscopically tiny number of people demanding equality when they already have it and to have their hurt feelings elevated to the status of a civil right.

On the other, you have thousands of years of experience and millions of Americans whose Constitutionally protected freedoms would be breached by a law that serves no practical purpose other than to repudiate their cherished religious beliefs.

Most of all, why on earth would anyone support a ballot measure whose justification of choice includes a lie in every word?

Reject Referendum 71.

Marcy Kelley is a Port Orchard resident.

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