The Birds and Bees and the Government

First off, how dare you? How dare you dub a legal gap with a sexist, outmoded term? I’m getting the ACLU on the line. Get ready to take out a second mortgage to pay your lawyer, bigot.

With the perfunctory lib-rage disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into it.

In a rare-but-not-really-rare uniparty moment in Washington, the Senate passed a gun-control bill chock full of all types of provisions we’ll discover the true implications of in a few years. Think Obamacare, but for gunnery. Within the hunk of legislation is the closing of what’s sexistly known as the “boyfriend loophole,” which, despite this being a family publication, sounds like a film you used to find in the bead-shaded backroom of a sleazy video store.

Not that this author ever dared venture into such a sin joint. But I hear things.

Anyway, we can argue the merits of the varying provisions of S. 2938 all day, every day, until the cows queue up for bovine paradise via a .22 Winchester. The robed legal clerics of the Supreme Court just did. They took a tightly concealed 9-mm to New York’s onerous concealed-carry restrictions. Now commuters on the A train can pack and ride legally—which may increase their odds of surviving a trip on the current Big Apple track worm.

In wonderful political synchronicity, Congress acts to rescind gun ownership while the high court expands it. Only in America! You can holster a revolver in a daycare unless you said something mildly aggressive on Facebook, and your Second Amendment rights are red-flagged away. The Founders’ vision of freedom lives on.

Back to the boyfriend loophole. The Senate addressing this legal slip-through is an immediate—erm—red flag. Because if Americans are somehow sneaking guns vis-à-vis their significant non-nuptial other, that means the most socially obtuse men and women in America will have to define that murky, inconstant, undefinable gauntlet known as going steady. Or hooking up. Or seeing someone. Or making a relationship Facebook-official.

Congress defining dating. I’d feel safer granting all five-hundred-thirty-five congressmen and women the nuclear codes—even Maxine Waters.

So what exactly is the boyfriend loophole and why isn’t it named the “asexual acquittance of significant legal non-identifying-shape space”? Well, first of all because the rule of law is sexist tripe (duh!). And second, because it was a loophole for getting around a federal law—the Lautenberg Amendment—that makes it illegal for a domestic abuser to own a firearm, specifically if the abuser is married to, living with, or has a child with the victim. But for those pummel-prone, unmarried, infecund couples living apart, the law doesn’t apply. Until now.

From CNN: “Closing the loophole would mean that anyone who was deemed to have been in a serious dating relationship and convicted of domestic violence would no longer be eligible to own a gun.”

The obvious question: who defines a “serious dating relationship”? What is a “serious dating relationship”? A six-month squeeze? An eight-month entente? A twelve-month take-up? Is serious courtship measured in years, or months, or even days?

Here’s how our esteemed statesmen define a real romantic connection, as opposed to a fleeting fling: “a relationship between individuals who have or have recently had a continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature”.

Now I say my prayers as well as the next guy, but if I’m not mistaken, it seems our well-educated, impeccably credentialed lawmakers define dating relationships as mere shtupping.

What’s next? A scopophiliac Mitch McConnell posting up in the corner of your bedroom to discern between frottage and full rut? Or coitus and canoodling? Even better: Bernie Sanders personally checking the hymens of abuse accusers. And this is a key Democratic priority?

S. 2938’s language tries to further define a serious relationship with a tri-criteria: “length of the relationship;” “the nature of the relationship;” “the frequency and type of interaction between the individuals involved in the relationship.” Which is all another way of saying that law enforcers have to provide an objective standard for differentiating between clapping casual cheek and clapping significant cheek.

Presumably judges will bear the burden of sussing out the nature of a given relationship. And for the especially knotty coupling that winds its way through the court system, Chief Justice John Roberts will host a counseling session and go one by one through the Kama Sutra to determine the correct degree of intimacy.

Government suits measuring the contours of shifting love matches sounds like a recipe for costly inefficiency. Just imagine how much money and manpower New York’s court system would expend in trying to determine if Ross and Rachel were really together at any given moment. The state would have gone belly up by season six.

In another uniquely American political coincidence, Democrats closed their boyfriend loophole just as the Supreme Court nixed Roe v. Wade, which was originally ruled on the basis of the 14th Amendment’s implied right to privacy. Now abortion is illegal in almost half of the states in the country and government jurisdiction expanded further into the messy world of amour courtois.

State attorneys general digging into individual Tinder history to determine the seriousness of male-female relations. What could go wrong? It’s not as if the FBI falls for trumped up erotomaniac rumors about high-profile citizens or anything.

And I thought the government only got intimate with us around tax season.

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Taylor Lewis

Taylor Lewis writes from Virginia.

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