The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Justice Ginsburg and skim-milk marriage

There is at least one thing that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shares with thousands of America’s kids: She thinks skim milk is inferior to regular milk. The two are separate but unequal.

“There are two kinds of marriage,” Ginsburg said. “Full marriage and the skim-milk marriage.”

I actually like skim milk — who wants marriage with all the fat and buttery richness? Goes straight to your thighs, although it does improve your pancakes. It depends if you’re going to be using this marriage in any recipes or not.

Sometimes you just need to have a sip of marriage to improve your bone health, and you don’t need all those calories. And skim has a certain flavorlessness that is almost as good as a flavor of its own, as generations of WASP chefs have insisted of their taupe casseroles.

But this is a good analogy. Skim milk is almost the real thing. Some people will sing its praises.

But you can tell the difference.

And this doesn’t even get into chocolate-milk (both the regular kind and the kind you make with Nesquik) marriage, almond-milk marriage and soy-milk marriage, which never expires but it’s never the kind you would buy anyway. And then there’s evaporated-milk marriage, the kind your grandmother has but no one in his right mind would insist on these days, because the tin is too hard to puncture.

“How about 1 percent?” someone suggests.

Let’s not. In my experience, 1 percent is always what you get by mistake. The skim people aren’t happy. The 2 percent and whole-milkers are even less happy.

This is not one of those things you can just average out.

And what’s funny is that in the course of the debate it’s the advocates for so-called traditional marriage who are getting the skimmed-off version. All the forward bastions of the argument — child-rearing, benefits, the usual concomitants of lifelong commitment — are falling to expanded equality. As the discussion yesterday over California’s law pointed out, in many states these things are no longer exclusive to heterosexual marriage. In order to exclude people from the institution of marriage, you have to keep redefining it more and more narrowly until it comes down to a physical act between a male sex organ and a female sex organ. And that hardly seems worth generations of tradition and law and having to sign up for wedding registries to send people beef dehydrators.

Strip it of all the non-physical layers of love, commitment and the foundation of a family, because those are no longer exclusive to Ye Olde Traditional Spousal Arrangements, and who’s really stuck with skim marriage?