One the fantastic delights of chatting with foreigners is explaining the way we do things in the United States. It’s like my algebra teacher used to say: If you can explain something to someone so they understand completely, that means you have complete understanding.
“So, what’s this Defense of Marriage Act we’ve heard so much about where I’m from?” he asked
“Oh, that. That allows the federal government to state on the record and officially that our country believes marriage isn’t that bad.”
The visitor seemed puzzled.
“It’s like when you have a friend who occasionally does things that don’t make a lot of sense,” I said.
“For example. If you were to ask me ‘Did you see what Colin did to the punch bowl at the party last weekend?’ I would reply: ‘Well, in his defense, Colin is a bit mental and he hasn’t been taking his meds.’ Or ‘In defense of Sheila, she likes the bottle, you know. She was probably tipsy when she adopted her eighth cat.’
“It’s the same thing with marriage. Sure you’re creating a legal contract stipulating your loyalty and life to one person out of the billions on this planet — in theory until one of you dies — but in defense of marriage, it’s not that bad.”
Our guest still seemed confused.
“In defense of marriage,” I told him, “once you are married one or both parties no longer has to go to the gym as much as they did when they were single.
“And,” I continued, “After a certain amount of time, you realize you’re partner can’t stop seeing you just because you leave toenail clippings on the coffee table or because you like to hum when you eat. Being married means you have to put up with — and accept — that behavior unless you want to go through the hassle and cost of getting divorced.”
“But why would the government care about supporting marriage?” he asked.
“We believe a free market system is an integral part of democracy. Part of that involves supporting industries that keep the economy humming along.
“Think about all the money that’s spent on wedding rings, and planners, and dresses, and banquets, and honeymoons. and gifts, and bridal magazines, and marriage counselors. and divorce attorneys.
“Now consider all the people that are employed within those industries. The money they make and spend — that helps keep the economy flowing.”
“But don’t single people spend just as much money?’
“Maybe,” I told him. “But in defense of marriage, once you’re married your income doubles without you having to take a second job. So you can buy houses and cars and stuff. More and more stuff!
“And you can’t be fired unless your partner wants to incur a financial penalty. It’s a pretty good racket. Do you see?” I asked him. “I do.”