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Bigotry Requires Obstinancy

Individual readers may or may not believe this, but I didn't expect, nor do I prefer, to post so much about the Mass. court ruling. We've anticipated the decision for months, after all. However, I'm coming to believe it imperative that we open up the way to honest debate. As it stands, the court, the media, and various "people on the street" are simply defining objections out of the discussion through appeals to our societal aversion to "bigotry."

The unabridged version of Merriam-Webster (the subscription-only version of m-w.com) defines "bigotry" as follows:

state of mind of a bigot : obstinate and unreasoning attachment to one's own belief and opinions with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them; also : behavior or beliefs ensuing from such a condition

The bottom line is that many of those arguing for gay marriage are presenting positions that more closely align with this definition than most of those who oppose the change. Even the Mass. court did this in its ruling:

The "marriage is procreation" argument singles out the one unbridgeable difference between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, and transforms that difference into the essence of legal marriage. Like "Amendment 2" to the Constitution of Colorado, which effectively denied homosexual persons equality under the law and full access to the political process, the marriage restriction impermissibly "identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board." Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620, 633 (1996). In so doing, the State's action confers an official stamp of approval on the destructive stereotype that same-sex relationships are inherently unstable and inferior to opposite-sex relationships and are not worthy of respect.

Of course, I disagree with the court's reasoning, regarding the suggestion of "across the board" denial of protection based on "a single trait," but beyond that, consider the final sentence. Is the court claiming to be in possession of proof that same-sex relationships are not "inherently unstable"? I'd suggest that it's generally held that men are typically the "less stable" half of a marriage, so what happens when they enter into relationships with each other? The court simply dispenses with the question as a "destructive stereotype." As for the inferiority of a form of relationship, in a general sense, that's obviously a matter of opinion, but in a specific sense, what evidence does the court possess that one isn't preferable to another in particular applications — for example, fidelity or child rearing? Again, the debate can and should be had, but the court has ruled it beneath consideration.

As I've suggested before, if fidelity is any measure of a relationship's suitability for marriage or child-rearing, then it manifestly is not mere bigotry to express concerns about families constructed around homosexual relationships. That a state court actually excluded consideration of this entire area of inquiry is among the most disturbing aspects of this whole controversy. That it is so difficult to make the "tolerant" people see where they are being intolerant is among the most frustrating.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 02:16 PM EST


I agree with you that their reasoning was shallow and the conclusion was reached without debating the issue using their own terminology. If superiority of relationship is to be a consideration, than since hetero. marriage produces future citizens to maintain the state, and homo. marriage is physiologically closed to life, than is it not in the interest of the state to consider hetero. marriage vital to the maintenance of society, and thereby worthy of all possible support and protection from further erosion? This may sound extreme, but I would rather the courts have ruled to protect marriage by outlawing no-fault divorce and requiring fertility tests than to re-define marriage to be whatever two (or more -- soon to be added to the re-definiton polygamy, polyamory etc..) people want it to be which will eventually result in marriage meaning nothing.

I've even heard of one woman in the Netherlands I think who married herself, so why not give her marital benefits?

larry @ 11/21/2003 07:04 PM EST


I agree about no-fault divorce. Really... if we're claiming that marriage is an arrangement that the government is encouraging mostly for the extent to which it encourages stability and fidelity, then it should be a major commitment that can only be withdrawn, in the eyes of the state, under extreme circumstances.

Justin Katz @ 11/24/2003 12:54 PM EST