I must admit that I can’t get excited over Obama’s comfy ‘evolution’ to support gay marriage, apart from its relevance to electoral issues in the USA. Or even in Australia Penny Wong’s made-for-TV heartfelt admission concerning ‘the most important person in my life’. All the same, there is much celebration over the potential extension of marriage – should these personal opinions ever make it into legislation – to good, middle class gay couples, especially when we keep in mind Kant’s definition, slightly adapted from The Metaphysics of Morals:

Sexual union (commercium sexuale) is the reciprocal use that one human being makes of the sexual organs and capacities of another (usus membrorum et facultatum sexualis alterius).

Sexual union in accordance with law is marriage (matrimonium), that is, the union of two persons of [either the same sex or] different sexes for lifelong possession of each other’s sexual attributes.

In light of which Brecht wrote the following: Über Kants Definition der Ehe in der ‘Metaphysik der Sitten’

Den Pakt zu wechselseitigem Gebrauch
Von den Vermögen und Geschlechtsorganen
Den der die Ehe nennt, nun einzumahnen
Erschent mir dringend und berechtigt auch.

Ich höre, einige Partner sind da säumig.
Sie haben – und ich halt’s nicht für gelogen -
Geschlechtsorgane kürzlich hinterzogen:
Das Netz hat Maschen und sie sind geräumig.

Da bleibt nur: die Gerichte anzugehn
Und die Organe in Beschlag zu nehmen.
Vielleicht wird sich der Partner dann bequemen

Sich den Kontrakt genauer anzusehn.
Wenn er sich nicht bequemt – ich fürchte es sehr -
Muß eben der Gerichtsvollzieher her.

The agreement concerning reciprocal use
Of chattels and sexual organs
Which he calls “marriage,” appears to me
In urgent need of clarification.

From what I hear, some partners are remiss.
They have—I don’t count it a false report –
Withdrawn their sexual organs from the bargain:
The net has holes, and some of them are large.

Only one course remains: go to court
Arrange an attachment of those organs.
And perhaps that will afford the partner occasion

To contemplate that contract more scrupulously.
If he doesn’t give it care, I fear very much
That the sheriff will have to appear.

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