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General Gayety by Leslie Robinson
To be young and in love
by Leslie Robinson - SGN A&E Writer

Whoops.

The state of Arkansas passed a marriage law that accidentally allows toddlers to marry.

Gays can't marry, but children can. The universe must be on laughing gas.

The Arkansas law, which took effect this summer, establishes 18 as the minimum age to marry. It also allows pregnant minors to marry with their parents' consent.

But an extraneous "not" in the bill means that a person of any age who isn't pregnant can marry with parental consent.

Whoops.

Officials in the state are wrangling over how this boo-boo should be fixed. Embarrassment is high, but nobody fears an immediate crisis.

I don't know, though . . .

What if marriage fever sweeps through Arkansas kindergartens like chicken pox? What if daycare centers experience an outbreak of wedding flu? What if play-dates become real dates?

Getting hitched could be all the rage among the youngest set. Couples will register at Toys "R" Us, and hold rehearsal dinners at McDonald's. Attired in tuxes and wedding gowns made for dolls, they'll walk regally down the aisle, determined not to fall down and go boom.

After a nap, brides and grooms will repair to Chuck E. Cheese's for the wedding reception, where they'll throw cake at each other. Then they'll ride off into the sunset on tricycles trailing rows of juice boxes.

Just as Gay and Lesbian couples lit out for San Francisco and other regions that suddenly granted marriage, Arkansan authorities could find themselves swamped by pint-sized out-of-staters looking to tie the knot.

They won't be flying or driving to Little Rock-at least I sincerely hope not. They'll be mounting their bicycles and Big Wheels, skateboards and strollers, and forming a children's crusade on America's roads.

All thanks to an extra three-letter-word.

The brouhaha over same-sex marriage had already made state officials around the country as nervous as cats; now a marriage-law blunder like this might make some as hysterical as hyenas.

Here's another threatening result of children being free to marry. At their age, many don't know the rules. They don't know boys have to marry girls. So when little David announces, "I wanna marry Mike," does the state of Arkansas dare to interfere?

I guess so, since in Arkansas both state law and the state constitution ban Gay marriage. But when some bureaucrat tries to explain to David that he can't marry his best friend because they're both boys, David will likely respond with a screaming fit and a kick to the shin. If after a timeout David suggests a compromise-he'll marry his turtle or his dump truck-things will go no more smoothly.

Over the past years Arkansas has been the sight of a protracted effort to forbid homosexuals from being foster parents. A person might get the idea that Razorbacks aren't too fond of Gay folk. Which gives me the idea that virulently homophobic parents could misuse the marriage law's loophole.

If a father spots a touch of the feminine in his two-year-old boy, he could try to keep that nastiness from spreading by marrying his son off to a girl right away. Fortify that heterosexuality. Strengthen that straightness. Quash that queerness.

Heck, he wouldn't have to wait for any worrying signs--just marry him off in his crib. In the hospital. A birth certificate followed immediately by a marriage certificate.

Rather than parental consent, this would be a case of parental insistence. A new kind of shotgun wedding with an old goal: respectability.

On the plus side, if babies or toddlers were to wed, everyone in town would know it wasn't due to pregnancy.

Leslie Robinson doesn't know what a razorback actually is. E-mail her at LesRobinsn@aol.com, and read more columns at www.GeneralGayety.com.


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