Item: The Indiana University Board of Trustees recently voted unanimously to offer “domestic partner benefits” to University employees. This will enable same-sex “couples” to qualify for health insurance benefits just like married couples do. “I feel that this was something IU needed to do to join the mainstream,” said Steve Sanders, chairperson of the university’s Working Group on Domestic Partner Benefits. “It was really the entire university that reached a consensus on this issue,” added Bob Eno, an East Asian Languages and Culture professor and president of the Bloomington Faculty Council, who has been a member of the group since May.

Questions: Are homosexual relationships to be considered the functional equivalent of marriage? Do same-sex partners have to pledge lifelong fidelity to one another, a la marriage, to qualify for said benefits? If not, how long would said partners have to…partner? And would there have to be sex involved? Suppose two women decided, for financial reasons, to live together. Would they be eligible for such benefits? Would they have to agree to some sexual liaison first? How often would they have to be involved in such? And who would check up on them? Would they be required to somehow give proof beyond their spoken testimony that they were so involved? Or would a warm handshake and a pat on the back suffice instead of sex?

If two homosexuals living together might qualify for benefits previously reserved for married couples, then why wouldn’t two heterosexual people living together qualify as well? But if we are redefining appropriate living and loving relationships to these degrees, then might not two women and a man living together in some sort of arrangement qualify as well? Would we not then be able to render Mary McGregor’s lament “Torn Between Two Lovers” moot? Why ought we encourage guilt over such divided loyalties? Who is to say that we must only be committed to one person at a time? Instead, ought we not “celebrate the diverse colors of love” and welcome threesomes into our merry fold of benefit-garnering relationships? But why stop at three, then? Why not invite foursomes and fivesomes to our love-fest? Why not arrange for partners involved in committed relationships involving six women and nine men to the party? Who says polygamy is so bad after all? What’s with all those silly, antiquated laws on the books forbidding it anyway?

Why stop there? If a single man or woman has a particular affection for his/her poodle, why not insist that the University foot the bill for Fifi’s liposuction? After all, don’t we call them “man’s best friend”? How long will it be before P.E.T.A. weighs in on this issue of vital national importance? After all, isn’t it only our “speciesism” that causes us to blindly undervalue the significance of committed human/canine relationships?

And perhaps most importantly, why this centuries-long preference given to marriage after all? What is so special about it? If we can, as many think we ought, completely change the definition of marriage to suit the whims of our “enlightened” time, then don’t we render it an anachronism, an institution we can toss out as outmoded and irrelevant? Wouldn’t we be better off if we designated “temporary marriage” a moral good and an expedient necessity, and consigned lifelong commitment to the scrap heap of history? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to slip in and out of relationships casually, without feeling nagging pangs of guilt? And wouldn’t our children be better off turned over to the loving, nurturing hands of state-run day care providers, so that they all could receive equal treatment and comprehensive education? Wouldn’t that be great, to be able to live sexually any way we pleased, without consequences? And even better, wouldn’t it be a real utopia if we insisted that someone else provide health insurance for us, regardless of our living arrangements? No, better yet, wouldn’t it be great if we could live as we pleased, and turn our money over to others who would provide for all of our basic needs, cradle to grave? Wouldn’t that be great?

For the answer to the last question, I refer you to Cuba, North Korea, and the U.S.S.R.

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