Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez yesterday introduced Mesa County Commisioner Janet Rowland as his running mate and nominee for lieutenant governor. Beauprez and Democrat Bill Ritter, who chose nonprofit director Barbara O’Brien as his lieutenant governor, now at least have something in common: Nobody could pick either of their running mates out of a lineup.

Being a relative unknown didn’t prevent Rowland from escaping controversy, however. As The Denver Post reports:

But within hours, Rowland was embroiled in controversy.

Earlier this year during a taped discussion on gay marriage, she asked: “Do we allow a man to marry a sheep? I mean at some point, you have to draw the line.”

John Marshall, Beauprez’s campaign manager, said Rowland regrets the remark and has apologized for it. But the campaign of Bill Ritter, Beauprez’s Democratic rival, called the remarks “closed- minded” and reflective of an “intolerant, ignorant” ticket.

Is comparing homosexuality to bestiality a closed-minded thing to do? Absolutely, but it’s more than that — it’s stupid. It is completely, utterly, indefensibly ridiculous as a logical argument to make in this discussion…and it keeps coming up again and again.

During the 2005 legislative session, Republican Reps. Keith King and Jim Welker had a similar conversation when a gay marriage issue came up. The Rocky Mountain News recapped the exchange in March 2005:

The first hint that his news conference would be unusual came when Rep. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, gave a rambling explanation on why he was a co-sponsor. King never discussed gays, but he stressed traditional marriage. “If we can do things that we can to support it, it will keep our prison systems from having problems. It will save us money in the school finance act in the way we fund at-risk issues,” he said. “There are so many things that are tied together in the way we do state government and the spending of state government dollars based upon the fact of a marriage and how important it is, and how we raise children, keeping people out of prison.”

Lundberg was asked later if he understood what King was talking about. “No,” he said.

Another co-sponsor, Rep. Jim Welker, R-Loveland, said he feared for future legislation if the “Pandora’s box” of same-sex marriage were opened. “Where do you draw the line?” he said. “A year and a half ago a lady in India married her dog.” Welker was referring to the marriage of a 9-year-old girl who married a stray dog in 2003 as part of a ritual to ward off an evil spell.

(State Rep. Angie) Paccione stopped, stunned. “Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she said. “Come, on Jim.”

“That is true. That’s a fact,” Welker said.

Paccione exploded. “It’s not the same to have somebody marry a dog than it is to have two loving people get married. Come on!”

Welker said, “A guy in Boulder tried to marry his horse,” referring to a rancher who facetiously asked to wed his horse in 1975 when Boulder briefly allowed same-sex marriage. The marriage was denied because the horse was only 8 years old.

“Geesh! This is what we’re talking about!” Paccione said.

The exchange led to the quote of the session from Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, who said of Republicans, “We’re talking about the budget, and they’re talking about bestiality.”

I’m not going to get on a soapbox here and admonish Rowland and her fellow Republicans for being insensitive, because I think their idiot remarks speak for themselves. What I really don’t understand is how we find our way to this sort of bizarre logic – and how it gets repeated. The argument, in a nutshell, goes like this: If we allow gays and lesbians to marry, we are opening the door for the marriage of animals and humans.

Come again?

Forget, for a moment, whether or not we should allow homosexual marriage to take place. How do we get a cause and effect argument out of those two points? In no other political discussion does anyone attempt to bring animals into the discussion and attempt to make a valid argument. You’d be laughed out of the room if you tried a similar argument with a different issue:

If we continue to fund social security, we are opening the door to allowing horses and cows to file for social security.

We cannot roll back the estate tax or we risk an increase in pigs inheriting property.

If we allow school vouchers in our state, dogs and cats will start attending private school instead of public school.

Obviously that is ridiculous. But if you make the same absurd leap from humans to animals in discussing gay marriage, there are people who nod their head and say quietly, “That’s true.” It’s crazy.

How does this happen? How can anyone accept this argument as plausible? And why would gay marriage be the impetus for allowing human-animal marriages? Did it not occur to animal-human lovers that they might want to get married already? They didn’t think about it when straight people were getting married, but as soon as gay people got married the lightbulb went off?

This goofy argument also assumes that the prevention of gay marriage is the last barrier to anarchy. If we allow gay marriage, what will stop animals and humans from getting married? Um…the law? Are we not allowed to have a discussion about animal-human marriage if we allow gay marriage? There must be a clause in the secret marriage rules that specify if gay marriage is allowed, then all other laws and rules go out the window.

Gay marriage = no laws.

Next stop: Thunderdome!!!

Look, I understand that there are people who are uncomfortable with the idea of gay marriage, and some of them even have somewhat reasonable points they can make in their defense. But when did it become somewhat reasonable to hypothesize that gay marriage will lead to animal-human marriage? It’s not insensitive. It’s stupid. It’s so completely absurd as an argument that I can’t even believe I have to write something about how ridiculous it really is.

Somebody call George Orwell. There’s a problem down on the farm.