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Fox News Has A Meltdown Over Gender-Neutral Marriage Licenses In WA

November 29, 2012 1:28 pm ET by Carlos Maza

It’s been over three weeks since voters in Washington approved same-sex marriage at the ballot box, but Fox News still can’t believe that the state’s marriage licenses will actually start recognizing same-sex couples.  

Washington state is currently working to make its marriage certificates gender-neutral by replacing the terms “bride” and “groom” with the terms “Spouse A” and “Spouse B.” It’s an obvious outcome of legalizing same-sex marriage; if a same-sex couple wants to get married, it’s inaccurate to force them to identify as “husband and wife” on government documents.

On Fox, however, this seemingly unremarkable effort to accommodate gay couples is cause for major panic. On the November 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy invited Fox legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. to warn how the revised forms would “change society in Washington and in other states forever”:

JOHNSON: People in Washington said they want to do it and so now the issue is “husband and wife,” “bride and groom,” do the cultural kinship terms that go with heterosexual marriage go out the window? This is a sea change. This is a big anthropological change. This will change society in Washington and in other states forever... But the issue becomes, in terms of gender neutrality, in terms of saying “well, I'm a spouse. I'm not a husband or wife.” “I'm not a bride or groom. I'm someone about to be married.” Where does it go? Do we no longer say “father” and “mother?” Do we only say “parent?” Do we no longer say “brother” and “sister?” Do we say “sibling?” Do we no longer say “widow” or “widower?” What does it mean in terms of our relationships and how we view each other? People who choose to be engaged in heterosexual marriages? 

DOOCY:  So you think what is happening in Washington state with this proposal is going to wind up just rippling across the fabric of America? 

JOHNSON: It will and it's not about gay marriage. It's about what happens to heterosexual marriage and how those partners are defined and how those relationships go forward in our society. It's going to have a tremendous, tremendous impact. Language is part of our culture. Language defines our culture. Language often defines our behavior. Watch this. See what happens. This is going to be a big, big sea change in our society and how the smallest of our children understand relationships between parents, between husband and wife, between mother and father. There are such things in our society and if our society continues, there must be. 

DOOCY: All right. You heard it here first. 

In New York, where marriage licenses have been gender-neutral for over a year, there doesn’t appear to have been a catastrophic, society-threatening breakdown in basic personal relationships.

More importantly, Johnson’s argument just doesn’t pass the laugh test. Changing marriage licenses to say “spouse” instead of “bride” and “groom” isn’t going to remove “father,” “mother,” “brother,” or “sister” from society’s vocabulary. It won’t even cause people to stop using the terms “husband” and “wife” (one would assume that many married gay men refer to each other husbands and many lesbians refer to each other as wives). And it’s hard to imagine that the “the smallest of our children” are particularly concerned with the wording of a government document.

Making marriage licenses gender-neutral would do nothing more than allow members of same-sex couples to avoid the uncomfortable experience of having to identify as the opposite of their gender on a government document in order to get married.

Fox News ran two additional segments attacking the proposed change Thursday morning. Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson wondered why Washington didn’t just legalize same-sex marriage and continue forcing same-sex couples to identify as husband and wife:

And the crew at Fox & Friends First covered the story accompanied by a chyron which read “P.C. POLICE STRIKE”:

For the record, that’s three more segments than Fox ran on the election of the country’s first openly gay senator earlier this month. 


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