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February 11, 2004

Complete Agreement... Sort Of

I agree with Karen S. Hayes of Narragansett, Rhode Island, 100% when she writes: "It's time to stop letting narrow-minded zealots define [the gay marriage] issue." It would be wonderful, for example, if Andrew Sullivan would stop calling Republicans "theocons" and writing stuff like this:

But their second sentence is a stealth bomb aimed directly at gay couples, stripping them of any rights or benefits or protections. If the president endorses the Musgrave Amendment, he will be declaring war on gay couples, in order to boost his political fortunes. That's the reality, however they want to dress it up.

Even assuming he were correct about the stripped rights, benefits, and protections (and he's not correct), it would be possible for people to suggest differently without its being a "stealth bomb." And surely, the President could back the amendment in such a way as to avoid "declaring war."

Ms. Hayes goes on to ask a question that I've pondered myself: "why don't they stop playing on people's fears and address the real issues?" For example, Glenn Reynolds cuts out a whole slew of political and legal issues when he declares: "Those pushing the FMA are, in fact, afraid of democracy -- trying to lock in their eroding position on gay marriage against future democratic change." Surely the professor knows that the most the FMA can be said to do is to require that fully indistinguishable gay marriage rights be granted by means of another Constitutional amendment, rather than read into a Constitution by a handful of judges. After all, I don't imagine he wants gay marriage to be mandated nationwide through such methods as brought it to Massachusetts, when he's written the following about Goodridge:

Though I'm in favor of gay marriage, the Massachusetts opinion is just unpersuasive. There's astonishingly little in the way of actual legal analysis there, and that hurts them.

Moreover, I've often found myself wondering about those who are pushing for further innovations in marital law what Ms. Hayes expresses here:

Why don't they talk about why it's easier to get married than to get a driver's license; why so many men abuse their partners and so many women think they deserve abuse; why there's so little political debate about what it would really take to keep marriages and families strong?

I know I've long worried about the effects of divorce, and my concern ratchets everytime National Review or some other conservative periodical mentions the problems of "no fault" divorce. The FMA clearly must be seen as only a first step in marriage reform; as Ms. Hayes so movingly writes, "no constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman could have saved my parents' marriage, or my own."

Of course, keeping with what seems to be a pervasive trend, this divorced child of divorce is actually writing in favor of gay marriage, and calling conservatives bigots. After all, how could SSM affect her marriage? It's over! And if marriage means so little to such people... hey, why not just grant the "right" to everybody? (Although, I'm not quite sure how to reconcile her support for SSM with her complaint about the ease of obtaining a license.)

As she says, "marriage and the 'traditional family' have been in trouble for decades." Now is not the time to start drawing lines in its demise. Darn it, that would be unfair. Instead, we should relive the high of those social movements that were just kicking into gear as marriage began to deteriorate and "stand up for justice and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans."

And there could be no better way to accomplish that goal than to broaden the rules for entry into the institution of which Karen S. Hayes of Narragansett, Rhode Island, has such a high opinion and that has brought her, personally, so much justice and happiness.

Posted by Justin Katz at February 11, 2004 4:34 PM
Marriage & Family

The problem is that the stae will never be able to "fix" marriage. The most we can expect of the state is that it refrain from positively damaging it (like it has w/no fault divorce, and is attempting to with SSM). Marriage (and by extension, family) will remain in trouble until the participants recognize its sacramental nature, and stop treating it like an extended prostitutional business arrangement (sex in exchange for security). Anyone who enters marriage with the expectation of "what's in it for me" is doomed from the start.

Posted by: c matt at February 12, 2004 11:44 AM