As is only to be expected, a fresh wave of controversy is swirling around a court’simposition of massive fines on two New York farmers who don’t want a gay couple to get married on their property.

In today’s news cycle, where outrage is instinctively deployed as a weapon against our memory, the story of the Giffords (who owned the farm) versus the McCarthys (who wanted to get married there) may become little more than a fleeting blip on our frantic radar. But it is worth more than an ounce of attention, because it offers a glimpse at an inhuman future where celebration is enforced by law and punished with arbitrary takings.

It takes an effort to think beyond the clear culture-war confines of the case. Some of us will be outraged that the Giffords rescinded their implicit invitation to the McCarthys because, as court papers document, they said their “specific religious belief regarding marriage” created “a little bit of a problem.”

Others among us will freak at the fact that the Giffords were dragged to court—wherein administrative judge Migdalia Pares decided that the McCarthys suffered “mental anguish” worth exactly $3000 of the Giffords’ money.

Perhaps more than a few of us will flip their lids on account of Judge Pares’s further judgment that the Giffords were so awful that only 10,000 more of their dollars could rebalance the scales of justice.

Now that we have gotten over these multifarious horribles, we are obliged to ponder the bigger picture.

We know that the march of gay marriage has been embraced so swiftly because Americans readily grasped the libertarian and individualist benefits of loosening and abstracting the concept of marriage one logical step beyond its heterosexual bounds.

We are now learning that gay marriage, like everything else, becomes hideously more complex and messy when it goes from ideological concept to political execution. Rather than a cut-and-dried application of a clean rational rule, the ‘implementation’ of gay marriage demands that government routinely intervene in the most intimate and idiosyncratic details of our lives, our property, and our conscience.

We are now getting up close and personal with the uncanny and portentous irony of the government extracting cash from the owners and residents of a place called Liberty Ridge Farm.

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