Intentions to cut back on blogging notwithstanding, I have some sincere questions for proponents of same-sex marriage.
The New York Times exults that the Plaintiff gay couple in this week’s same-sex marriage Federal case had a secret ally: “the Obama administration’s obligatory but half-hearted defense of [DOMA], which since last year no longer supports Congress’s stated reasons [for passing the law].”
I’ll forego extended reflection on how troubling I find it that one lousy legal case should change the national legal landscape when one of the parties “throws the game.” I’ll forego the expletives earned by the Administration for not getting top talent from outside to defend a law toward which insiders were, almost by definition, hostile. I’ll also forego predicting what the 2nd Circuit (I think that one covers Massachusetts) or the Supreme Court will make of this.
Instead, a few questions.
The stated reasons for DOMA, according to the Judge, were “the encouragement of “responsible procreation” and traditional notions of marriage and morality.”
If those aren’t good reasons, what are good reasons why the Federal government should extend any benefits to pairs who are in relationships their states choose to call “marriage”? And why should “marriage” have anything to do with sex if it’s not potentially procreative sex? Why, for instance, shouldn’t good, platonic friends be able to take their rightful place at the government trough? Spinster sisters living together? Surely they’re somewhat dependent on each other. How about Norwegian bachelor farmers around Lake Woebegon? They probably are having a tough time of it economically. Maybe they should be able to claim “marriage.” And, yes, why not trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, septet, octets, or the whole Jim Jones compound?
Why should the state even bother issuing marriage licenses? What skin does the state have in this game?
These really are not meant as rhetorical questions, or as reductios ad absurdum. I’m trying to figure out why — other than mawkish sentimentality about romantic feelings and a desire to poke a finger in the eye of traditionalists — the case for same-sex marriage has become self evident to people who buy their ink by the barrel.
It is no answer to my questions to try delegitimizing them by labeling me a “homophobe.” I’m no more phobic about GLBTQ-and-whatever-else-is-added-these-days than I am about spinster sisters and Norwegian bachelor farmers. I think Platonic friendships are splendid things. I’m willing to be perfectly tolerant of non-Platonic same-sex relationships between adults (legally, not religiously; though I have no personal religious authority, I defer to those of my tradition who do).
Should we extend “marriage” benefits to one of the two (if the rationale really is limited to pairs, not congeries) who stays home, with no career in the national economy, as a sheer matter of choice, not to raise children? (I know we do that with childless traditional couples now, so don’t think you’ll stun me by so noting.) Or should we cease extending any benefits of what currently is called “marriage” in most states, extending benefits instead only to people who are raising minor children?
- If marriage in the eyes of the state has nothing to do with procreation or child-rearing, then what does it have to do with?
- Is that “something that it does have to do with” of sufficient public importance that we should, for instance, extend the current panoply of government benefits to it?
- If that something is of high public importance, would it nevertheless behoove us to get government out of the “marriage” business and put it in the “civil union” business instead — just to avoid rhetorical confusion? (My Church has tied “marriage” to procreation long before there was a USA, or any modern nation-state, so it’s a minefield of confusion to say we cannot possibly recognize same-sex “marriage” if the government calls its favored pairings “marriage” as well.)
- If that something is not of high public importance, then why shouldn’t we save tons of money by withdrawing benefits, ceasing marriage licensing, abolishing divorce laws, and generally getting government out of an area where it has little or no interest (except in a tradition that the judge this week despised)?
Comments will be moderated. I’ll let through any comment that evidences thoughtfulness, and I’ll bar both “Amen, brother!” and “How dare you, you homophobic bastard!” comments.