Now that signs from the U.S. Supreme Court point toward the possible end of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, making it so same-sex married couples receive the same federal benefits as other couples, the tin-foil hat crowd has been working overtime.
The hysteria in columns and the blogosphere warns, like Chicken Little, that the sky will fall. Among the most outlandish claims is that if we allow same-sex marriage, the next step will be to allow men and women to marry horses, pigs, goats and ducks.
That's funny because there is a precedent in Salt Lake City in which a man actually did marry a duck. I know. I was there.
It was the mid-1970s, and I was a general-assignment reporter for The Tribune. We carried a small story about two gay men claiming their civil rights had been violated because they had applied for a marriage license at the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office and had been denied.
After their complaint, county officials researched the law and found that, at the time, it didn't address whether same-sex couples could get a marriage license. The issue just hadn't come up.
One county official noted that the law was silent on all sorts of marriage scenarios.
"Heck," he said, "you could marry a duck in Salt Lake County if you wanted to, and there is no law that says you can't."
That comment unleashed the imagination of zany KALL Radio personality Will Lucas, who decided as a publicity stunt to test that theory by publicly marrying a duck.
Lucas was already married, so his antic would test the constitutional prohibition of polygamy in Utah as well.
He and the brain trust at KALL decided to turn the display into a charity event, so they rented a ballroom at the Hilton Hotel, made it a black-tie affair, and served dinner along with the beverage Cold Duck.
They found some poor unfortunate duck somewhere, got a nondenominational preacher to conduct the service and invited the press along for the fun.
As the general-assignment reporter, I received the press release, detailing everything that would occur that night. I took it to my editors and asked if they wanted me to cover it.
The response was that the story was worth no more than four paragraphs. But if the marriage was consummated, I was to get pictures.