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Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Smokey Briggs

Sage Views

By Smokey Briggs

Gay marriage - show

me the money, baby

Do you want to see the heart of the gay marriage issue?

Here is a good start.

Call an insurance provider that offers group medical insurance. Ask for the definition of dependent.

You now have the answer. Your have to be a child or a state-recognized spouse to qualify as a dependent.

Legally married folks also have a few other legal rights. They can hold community property. They have a right of inheritance if one spouse dies without a will. They can collect social security benefits when a spouse is killed or disabled. They can collect the body of a spouse when he or she dies.

In other words, when the state recognizes your marriage, the spouse receives legal rights similar to blood kin.

Most of these rights are property rights.

This issue is about money - not marriage.

So why does our society grant special status to a spouse - some of which entitle a spouse to collect a sum of money when a friend or whatever could not?

Some of the answer is common sense. Community property is about fairness and common sense. So are the rules about collecting bodies and inheriting estates.

Equally, the philosophy behind these spousal rights is about protecting the family - a concept we often think of as Christian but that has been a part of most cultures since the dawn of history.

Societies throughout the ages have recognized that the continuation of their clan, state or nation depended on rearing a new generation of children.

Societies also recognized that a man and woman bound together by more than lust had a better shot at rearing the kind of clansmen, subjects or citizens that would ensure the survival of the society.

Much of the reasoning behind state recognized marriage is about protecting this coming generation.

That is why our laws make sure a spouse and children receive some portion of a dead spouse's estate and why spouses and children of a deceased wife or husband can collect social security benefits earned by the dead spouse.

So the issue is not really holy matrimony. It is about conferring rights and benefits to certain persons for the greater good of society.

The real question, then, is whether state recognized homosexual marriage confers any benefit to society.

Hopefully, there are no children involved in such unions. Nature tends to prohibit it, and as far as I am concerned, allowing a homosexual couple to adopt is state sponsored child abuse.

Society as a whole probably does not have much interest in protecting a family unit of two - there is no coming generation to protect.

That leaves the issue of fairness.

Why should not homosexuals be able to hold community property, or claim the body of their "spouse"?

Who cares if they do?

I do not.

A simple solution would be to simply get the government out of the entire situation. Do away with state regulated marriage and do away with laws and regulations requiring insurance companies and the government to treat all "spouses" as equal.

Now, I suspect, that insurance companies and probably the Social Security Administration do not want to open the Pandora's Box of "anybody can be a spouse."

So do not do it. The state has no vested interest in maintaining homosexual unions. There is no coming generation to protect here.

Simply allow the state and private industry to discriminate when it comes to alternative definitions of spouse.

If we divorced the state from the marriage business, homosexuals could "get married" in any establishment that claimed the right to marry them and they could claim all the property rights due a married couple such as holding community property.

On the flip side, society and its government would not be out the normal expenditures for protecting married couples since, without the possibility of children, society has no vested interest in doing so.

Unfortunately, what is probably going to happen is we are going to get state sanctified homosexual marriage rammed down our throats.

Then my insurance premiums will go up.

It is all about the money.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Our View

A note to Economic Development

Back on November 17 the Pecos Economic Development Corporation gave the City Council a short brief on what it has been involved in recently.

One of the projects listed by PEDC was bringing a Wal-Mart Supercenter to Pecos.

To what degree PEDC was involved with this deal was not divulged.

That PEDC was involved at all is troubling.

Wal-Mart and Economic Development are not synonyms.

For small towns Wal-Mart is the equivalent of the plague. When Wal-Mart moves in small retailers die off.

As small retailers die, so does the town.

The economy in most rural communities is just too tight to support Wal-Mart and the dozens of small businesses it strangles to death.

At the same time Wal-Mart does not match inventory or the level of service offered by its victims. Not able to find what they need at Wal-Mart citizens begin to make the trip to the major shopping centers more and more often - taking their spending money and the town's economy with them.

We already have a Wal-Mart and the empty storefronts to prove it.

We could do without a Supercenter and a few new additions to the empty storefront list.

Rather than helping Wal-Mart put in a Supercenter PEDC could do better by detonating a small nuclear device at 7th and Cedar streets.

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