DON'T COME TO PENNSYLVANIA IF YOU'RE A LESBIAN because it's too confusing here.
On Aug. 29 an appeals court in my fair state denied permission for your same-sex partner to receive your health and pension benefits and to be exempted from paying the 3 percent city real-estate tax when you transfer your property to him/her. We don't know where this will end because there will be an appeal of the appeal, no doubt, but for the meantime it would appear that Stacey Sobel and her Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights are in a bit of a matrimonial limbo, legally speaking.
I mean, how confusing is this? Just late last month the Pennsylvania Supreme Court told you it was OK, under the Pennsylvania Adoption Act, to adopt the biological children of your live-in lover (LIL). The powers-that-be handed your newly grafted progeny the right to your LIL's Social Security survivor, health, and inheritance benefits, and gave your LIL decision-making powers in medical matters.
What's with this namby-pamby business of being married enough to be your partner's kid's second mother at the doctor's office, but not married enough to inherit your partner's 401(k)? If the "Keystone State" wants to be a modern, enlightened political entity, and really believes what it is teaching our tykes in the public schools-that we're all just a "rainbow of friends" (and in a rainbow there is no right or wrong or absolute, but just different stripes)-then it should stop taking these mincing little steps and go all the way.
Pennsylvania reminds me of a scene I've watched dozens of times at Renninger Park: A bunch of kids merrily dangling and swinging on the day-glo yellow play structure are suddenly collectively lured, as by some siren, to the stream that fringes the property. It is forbidden territory and they know it, their mothers' solemn last warnings still ringing in their ears as they all stop silently at the water's edge for a pregnant moment. Then one kid sticks in a toe-just to retrieve a pine cone he threw in. His foot slips off the rock and the shoe gets wet. Halfway. A pause for philosophical reflection ensues: Practically speaking, what's the difference between halfway and all the way? So now the whole shoe goes in. And come to think of it, will the punishment be greater at home for one soaked sneaker than for two?
The miscreant's companions look on horrified-and then follow, one by one. And since they've all gone this far, they don't suppose it matters much now if their knickers get splashed a bit. And a splash is the same as a dunking, in the end; it's only a matter of degree and inches. And so it happens, in all playgrounds everywhere in the world, that within half an hour the deed is a fait accompli, and one and all are as thoroughly drenched as if they had marched to the stream with firm intentionality. The only difference is that they have deceived themselves in the process.
"Pecca fortiter" ("Sin boldly"), said Martin Luther. Many years ago, a wise young man quoted this to me when I was about to plunge into a sin with a raft of spurious self-justifications. It was a bold stroke and I would thank him now if I met him. If you are going to reject God's law, to unshackle yourself from His constrictions-on marriage or anything else-why compound the wrong by fooling yourself in the bargain?
Judas Iscariot, I do not imagine, woke up one morning and said to himself: "I am going to betray the Lord today." I suppose he rather saw himself as the performer of a civic duty of turning in a revolutionary gone awry. Jesus, in a final act of kindness to him, would not allow His betrayer to pretty up the deed: "What you are going to do, do quickly."
I would like to say to the lawmakers of America: If you want to be really tolerant, and open-minded, and if you believe that your truth and my truth are all good truth, then follow the thing through to its logical conclusions: not only health and inheritance and tax benefits for the lesbian, but for the man who, sooner or later, will step up and want to marry his horse. And not only take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance, but take Him off the money and get rid of the congressional prayer, a tiresome formality anyway.
"How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him" (1 Kings 18:21).