The XX Factor

Plenty of Marriages Should Be Put up for a Vote. Just Not Gay Marriages.

These Maryland voters don’t think you should have gone out that night when you guys were broken up

Photograph by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The most important vote I cast yesterday was for Maryland’s Question 6, which confirmed that the state’s marriage laws apply to same-sex couples. Maine, Minnesota, Washington, and Maryland became the first states to legalize gay marriage by popular vote, in the most historic, inspiring, tear-jerking, it-just-got-better outcome of the election. 

But it felt really creepy to cast that vote. What the hell business was it of mine—or even worse, of all those goobers in line ahead of me—who gets to get married? The only reason the question was on the ballot was that after the state legislature approved gay marriage earlier this year and the governor signed the bill, anti-gay-marriage activists gathered enough signatures (some 56,000 were required and the referendum supporters submitted more than 162,000) to put the question up to a popular vote. The bigots expected to win, and they lost.

But they might have been on to something. Who among us hasn’t wanted to veto a wedding or two? Perhaps more marriages ought to be put up for a popular vote. Marriage is broken, after all, and Slate already proposed some fixes. If all it takes is 56,000 signatures, we could reform Maryland’s civil marriage laws for the benefit of not just the gay and lesbian communities, but for all humankind. Here’s what I propose, for next time:

Question 6

Referendum Petition

Civil Marriage Protection Act of the 2014 Legislative Session

Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay, lesbian, transgender, and opposite-sex couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not prohibited from marrying under the following new conditions. A confirmatory vote by at least seven (7) close friends, including representatives from the social circle of each individual, shall be required if:

-       Either of the two individuals fails to disclose to the other the existence of known sexually transmitted diseases, financial debts, or children

-       Either individual has consulted Dear Prudence more than twice about his or her proposed spouse

-       Either individual is using the relationship primarily to re-enact unresolved family-of-origin issues

-       During a break-up in an on-again, off-again relationship, either individual discloses to his or her friends any behaviors that would make said friends queasy and sad during the proposed wedding ceremony

Couples whose proposed marriage fails the confirmatory vote may be eligible to apply again for a civil marriage license after a waiting period of at least one (1) year and the promise to elope.