Iíve stopped reading ETSUís student newspaper, The East Tennessean, for the pure and simple reason that the liberal junk that they publish makes me so angry that my head very nearly explodes every time I subject myself to it (for those of you who feel the same way, be on the lookout for The Arsenal, a conservative newspaper to begin publication in January) . The final straw was Melinda Davisí op-ed which appeared in the November 21, 2005 issue which stated that the RIGHT of marriage should be extended to gays. Well, I have news for youÖmarriage is not a RIGHT, but a PRIVILEGE. There is a significant difference between rights and privileges, not the least of which is that fact that, as U.S. citizens, we are guaranteed our rights as per the Bill of Rights, not our privileges as per some Bill of Privileges. Marriage, like driving, home ownership, and various and sundry other perks are merely privileges, which, by definition, are nice to have, but not absolutely necessary.
Letís take driving, for instance. Driving is wonderful; it makes getting back and forth to work much easier, itís more convenient than public transportation, and it may even be considered a necessity if one lives in a rural area with no other mode of transportation. You can even receive a tax break if you drive an environmentally friendly vehicle. There are, however, requirements that must be met before someone will be allowed to obtain a driverís license. One must be able to show that they can operate a motor vehicle (you canít be blind, for example); a paraplegic must have a specially equipped vehicle (if you canít afford one Ė tough crackers); there are age restrictions (no one under the age of 16 may have a driverís license). If you donít meet these requirements, then you canít have a driverís license. It is, therefore, a privilege, rather than a right.
Home ownership is another example of something that is a wonderful privilege associated with being an American, but is not a right. Owning a home has many advantages, not the least of which is the investment potential and tax advantages. For roughly the last eight years, I have been a renter; I am now in the process of becoming a home owner. Renting keeps a roof over my head Ė home ownership keeps a roof over my head, along with allowing me to invest my money in something that will appreciate over the next few years and providing me killer tax advantages. Home ownership is a wonderful thing in which, as an intelligent, financially stable individual, I can take part. It is not something that is offered or available to everyone.
Marriage, too, is a nice privilege, but not a right. The tax and legal advantages that gays believe should be available to them and their partners are beneficial, but not necessary. I understand that driving and homeownership are not perfect examples. Those who believe that homosexuality is an in-born characteristic like race or sex will argue that to completely shut them out to something that is available to much of the population is discrimination. But, look, women canít join fraternities, idiots canít go to medical school (ok, I know thatís arguable), and men canít have babies. Like it or not, there are certain things that are not available to us simply because of how we were born. To compare the privilege of marriage to the RIGHT of free speech, the RIGHT to practice whatever religion one chooses, the RIGHT to counsel, the RIGHT against self-incrimination, and the RIGHT to bear arms is ridiculous. The Bill of Rights was established, not to ensure that we have everything that would make our lives pleasant, but to ensure that we are not overridden by a tyrannical government. While marriage is a fabulous thing, it is not something that is necessary to ensure the prevention of a tyrannical government and, therefore, is not a RIGHT.

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