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The Gay Marriage Solution

I know this is presumptuous of some unknown blogger schmoe to say, but David Brooks completely misses the point with respect to gay marriage, almost to the degree that unthinking liberal blog-commenters have done. In other words, almost to the point of delusion.

The conservative course is not to banish gay people from making such commitments. It is to expect that they make such commitments. We shouldn't just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity.

When liberals argue for gay marriage, they make it sound like a really good employee benefits plan. Or they frame it as a civil rights issue, like extending the right to vote.

While I disagree as a theological matter, as a civic matter, I can't help but agree with Brooks's suggestion about demanding homosexual fidelity, and I do find it "scandalous" that it remains such an issue among people who claim to be no different in their desires except for whom they desire. However, Brooks ignores entirely whether his proposed strategy will have the effect, in today's America, that he predicts. It is still a very open question whether homosexual marriage would follow this pattern or would push the envelope on the extent of "contingency" that already exists in marriage, against which Brooks rails. As I've written before, while the data is perhaps thin, all indications are that homosexuals, even those who are "marriage material," are not particularly concerned about fidelity. This factor could — perhaps — change in the future.

As it happens, I do believe that people who are, or consider themselves to be, irrevocably homosexual ought to pursue the most committed relationships possible. And I believe that doing so of their own accord is how they ought to make their case for changing the definition of marriage to include them. However, at this time, with courts willing to redefine marriage on the basis of a vote of four lawyers, and with the American media apparently more united behind this cause than behind just about any other issue to come along in my lifetime, allowing homosexuals into an institution to be shared with married heterosexuals is reckless to the point of insanity.

If we are to leverage the law so as to encourage fidelity in gay relationships (in any relationships), let's not employ half-measures. Rather than simply loosening the rules that the stamp of civic marriage requires in order to approve of a relationship, let's tighten them. Being "married" in a land of no-fault divorce won't change homosexuals, so let's make civic marriage truly "'till death do us part." The only way appeals such as Glenn Reynolds's that gay marriage would strengthen "traditional values rather than harming them" are valid is if gay marriage forces us to strengthen the marital bond in the eyes of the law.

So what do you supporters of gay marriage think: we'll pass a law allowing it, but at the same time, we'll make divorce (in any kind of marriage) possible only under the most extreme circumstances. We're after fidelity, right, Mr. Brooks? Well then, how about fines or other penalties for extramarital affairs? Sounds like a great compromise to me.

Any takers?

Posted by Justin Katz @ 11:20 PM EST


Here is a quote from Reynolds' "defense:" I'm deeply suspicious, frankly, of people who assume that all sex outside marriage is somehow depraved or corrupt or instrumental. Perhaps they are projecting, or perhaps they are just ignorant.

He reduces 2000 years of Christian tradition on the meaning of human sexuality to psychological projection and/or ignorance. That's right, those who believe in Christ and the sanctity of marriage and the nuptial meaning of the body are just stupid.

Our society has lost the concept of sin, that there are objective moral truths that if violated do damage to both the agent and the society he lives in.

Without real rights and wrongs acknwoldged in the public square, on what basis can a debate on social policy be conducted? My desires must be respected, and if you don't, you're a bigot! Thus, all non-revisionist Christians are bigots.

Who was it that said democracy requires a virtuous polity, or at least a polity that recognizes that objective moral values exist?

barry @ 11/23/2003 03:01 PM EST


My response became so long that I made it its own post.

Justin Katz @ 11/23/2003 03:23 PM EST