You couldn’t make this stuff up. The New York Times’ “ethicist” answers a question that, I suspect, has never occurred to most of our readers:
My partner and I have discussed marriage — one of us wants to marry; the other has issues with the institution, specifically the fight over homosexual marriage (we are heterosexual). We believe that gays and lesbians should have the same rights as heterosexuals. Why should we be privileged with the rights and protections of marriage when others are being denied?
Is it ethical for us to walk down the aisle? C.K. and D.C., New York
I would have sized that up as the lamest excuse ever offered by a commitment-averse guy. In the Times’ world, however, this is a serious moral dilemma. Here is how the “ethicist” responded:
I share your opinion of the marriage laws but not your conclusion that you must defer your wedding until utopia arrives. Many who sincerely denounce the inequities of our society inevitably profit from them. If you’re a man who works at a job where the lack of flex time or on-site day care disadvantages women who do the bulk of child care, you benefit from sexism. If you’re a middle-class white person who attended a decent high school and then applied to college, you had a huge advantage over a poor kid or an African-American from an inferior high school. It is impossible to lead an immaculate life in an imperfect world. The task is not merely to insulate yourself from being a beneficiary of injustice — even if that were possible — but to combat injustice.
Were there an organized boycott of marriage as a way to reform the law, you should observe it. But without that, I see no point in your becoming refuseniks. Doing so would not influence the marriage laws. You would do better to lobby your state and federal representatives and contribute money to freedomtomarry.org or similar organizations. You should seek ways to bring about change, not just to make self-comforting gestures.
“Were there an organized boycott of marriage as a way to reform the law, you should observe it.” This is what the Times considers to be ethical guidance. Increasingly, these people are beyond ridicule.