Sunday, June 30, 2013
To repudiate the left's self-congratulatory pose that opponents of same-sex marriage are hateful "homophobes", I present a conservative viewpoint as articulated in a recent National Review editorial.
The real argument for continuing to treat marriage as the union of a man and a woman is that marriage and marriage law exist to channel sexual behavior in a way that promotes the flourishing of children. They exist, that is, to solve a problem that does not arise in same-sex unions: that heterosexual sex often gives rise to children. They exist to uphold the ideal that children need the mother and father who created them to stay in a stable relationship together. Recognition of same-sex marriage means that the institution is no longer about those things.
There are, of course, coherent arguments against this view, and while we do not think them ultimately successful, an increasing number of people clearly disagree with our conclusions.
What should have mattered in court was that weighing that question is not their business. Justice Samuel Alito's dissent got it right. "Same-sex marriage presents a highly emotional and important question of public policy - but not a difficult question of constitutional law," he writes. The Constitution is neutral on whether governmental recognition of same-sex marriage will undermine the institution of marriage, strengthen it, or have no effect at all; it does not contemplate the question.
(I would substitute "address a consequence" for "solve a problem". NR should know better.)
For what it's worth, I believe that while the protection of children was the purpose that the institution of marriage was developed for in the first place and remains its most important function, the institution has also become a vehicle for expressing a commitment to a lasting relationship between two people. As such it should not be restricted by the sexual identity of the participants.
Canada legalized gay marriage nationwide in 2005 and same-sex marriages now constitute less than one percent of total marriages in that country. Suppose the U.S. ultimately follows suit and suppose legalized gay marriage here leads to a substantially higher prevalence of all marriages here than in Canada, say 5% (or 6% or 7% or 8%). Even if one agrees with the National Review editors that marriage exists to support procreation, progress toward that admirable goal will not be diminished (as it hasn't been) by that small proportion of couples who marry for another purpose.
Conservatives are a wild and wonderful bunch, but they waste too much time and passion on this matter, much as they do on the issue of immigration. Ann Coulter recently tweeted that Chris Christie, one of her long time favorites, was "now dead" to her. The reason? He appointed Jeff Chiesa to replace the recently deceased Frank Lautenberg as New Jersey senator. Chiesa subsequently voted for the immigration bill which passed the Senate with 68 votes. That Mitt Romney's presidential bid was torpedoed by Christie when the latter staged a lovefest with Barack Obama over federal funding of the Hurricane Sandy cleanup had no impact on Coulter's allegiance to Christie. It was the selection of a representative who cast an inconsequential vote on an inconsequential bill (it's DOA in the House) that turned her against him.
We have a wretched president whose foreign and economic policies are driving the nation to ruin from without and within. Those who oppose him need to focus their energies on what matters - investigating and exposing the administration's scandalous crimes, rolling back its pernicious regulations, spending and taxes, repelling its assault on personal liberty and the Constitution, advancing American interests abroad, repealing Obamacare. Other issues, even those worthy of attention, should be put on the back burner.