Friday, June 27, 2008

Gay Marriage And Considering Nuance

I wrote most of this last week, but was distracted with other things. I have intended for weeks and really months, now, to change the approach of the discussion on my Blog, on which I have been VERY inactive recently. Of course, I spent most of the last year advocating for Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign and defending him against what I’m certain were ill-founded and often disingenuous criticisms. I think I have been to a great extent letting the air out and recuperating from the campaign, occasionally posting on why it is critical for America’s future in almost all respects, for conservatives to support John McCain despite his occasional philosophical infidelities.

And, in the past few weeks I have begun a program of physical and occupational therapy to deal with the weaknesses and impediments that have accrued over my 15 years with multiple sclerosis. But, I want to write about the matter of the “legalization” in California of gay marriage beginning last week, Tuesday June 17. I enclose “legalization” in quotes because judges don’t make law; they interpret them and all too often MISinterpret them. This situation was foisted upon the California people via a capricious and presumptuous ruling by the California Supreme Court, defying the expressed will of the people, EVEN IN CALIFORNIA!

I think it is apt for me to write about this for a few reasons which are paradigmatic of some overall concerns of mine:
1) In fact, I do think homosexual marriage is a bad idea, for the health of both the society and the homosexual individuals themselves, but that is not my primary concern or frankly not even in play in this question.
2) Of serious concern is the judicial presumption over the will of the people that was expressed in the political process, when there is no issue of basic constitutional principle. And actually, the passivity of the people in rolling over and accepting it for no better reason that I can discern than that some very foolish people in media tell them that they are obligated to, may be an even greater concern.
3) This is also an issue like some others on which I do not have the conventional reflex of many people who consider themselves “conservative.” In fact, I was and am an enthusiastic supporter of Mike Huckabee who himself, quite expectedly supports a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I DO NOT. Oh, I understand that a legal case can and undoubtedly will be pressed for other states to recognize these marriages under the “full faith and credit” clause of The Constitution. That would be a misapplication of that provision. And, the proper course to confront it would not be an amendment to the US Constitution, but for an unwilling state to simply refuse to submit to any such ruling: as someone once said, “Just say ‘No!’”. Frankly, after over 34 years of quivering under a contrived judicial edict that supposedly commands national accession to unrestricted abortion, it’s long past time for a state to stand up and say, “Enough! The Constitution is not an all-purpose medium for any outrageous dictum, and The United States has no kings, certainly not incognito as judges!”

Addressing this last matter first, consider two things: a) the federal government and certainly the US Constitution have no jurisdiction over marriage and should not. And to introduce such a matter to the US Constitution would severely diminish the integrity of that document. And b) to cede the authority of amending the US Constitutional to define marriage the way you like it, today, is to cede the authority of a US Constitutional amendment to define it any other way, tomorrow. Take a step back: Do you really dismiss the possibility that popular consensus might change?

The US Constitution should have nothing to say about what constitutes a marriage. Honestly, I’m anything but enthusiastic about even a state government establishment of marriage. We see marriage as an institution before God, not the state. And that confusion diminishes marriage. The worst part of our marriage convention as when a minister says, “And now, by the authority vested in me by the state of…” WAIT A MINUTE! The state? If a marriage is an oath only before a state, it could be no surprise that people might take it lightly. Breaking your vows won’t even earn you a citation! And, who knows how a changing and sliding people might one day define marriage?

But, I do grant the authority of a sovereign state to determine its own social practices how it chooses…by a democratic political process, NOT by the arbitrary impulse of judges. So, it is for Californians to decide if they will amend their constitution. And, in my state, I would not support gay marriage. As things stand, the preferred route would be to impeach some judges.

When I launch into this new effort I will in addition to describing my experience and contemplation of MS for the consideration of sufferers and their friends and families also discuss my thoughts on many social, political, philosophical, and theological aspects of life. I have an atypical inclination to engage such abstract thoughts. And I often consider such fine distinctions as those expressed above. I am quite aware that most discussions, particularly political ones do not and cannot engage such nuance.

For example, when Huckabee says he supports constitutional amendments on marriage and human life, I consider that that the shorthand is that he supports a TRADITIONAL definition of marriage and thinks abortion is unconstitutional and I agree. I WOULD support a constitutional amendment clarifying the sanctity of human life. But, the amendment process is such that if it could genuinely be accomplished, the social problem would have already been solved. If such a majority was so explicit in its opposition to abortion, they would probably have already acted to stop it. As of today, many will record their opposition to abortion. But, few will pause to do very much about it.

But, often the nuances of issues merit consideration, short attention spans and sound-byte mass-communications, notwithstanding. To break them down to a more bite-sized offering presents a daunting task. But, it is my great fortune and privilege that I haven’t too much more pressing to do.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some comments on an issue we might never share consensus...

1. If you are going to say it is bad for the country and gay people, at least throw a little argument behind it.

2. Why shouldn't judges review policies of the majority that may be unfair to minorities? Whether you agree/disagree with particular judicial decisions, our founders designed the judicial branch to balance the rights of the minority with the will of the majority.

I do agree that civil marriage should be defined by state statutes. The federal constitution is not something that should be revised whimsically. Of course, the process to change the federal constitution prevents controversial edits like the marriage amendment. I just don't see it a politically viable amendment.

However, I think you conflate civil and religious marriage. There are a lot of gays that have exchanged their vows in states where they have no access to civil marriage. That covenant is between them and God, and the state cannot take it away from them. In turn, a church does not have to give religious status to civil marriages awarded to gay couples. Civil and religious marriage are separate, but often aligned, institutions. I think it is a good arrangement.

Larry said...

1) I say gay marriage is bad for the country because it introduces a fundamental confusion about what marriage is about. Sex is an important aspect of marriage. But, it isn't the sum total of marriage. It's a mistake to be ambiguous about that to our youth.

I say it's unhealthy for the participants because it goes some distance toward locking in their decisions. I don't say that government should interfere with gay behavior. But, people can redirect their behavior sometimes. I've seen it. Having been in a state-sanctioned gay marriage would complicate that possibility.Having children is one of the most momentous and meaningful experiences in life. Choose not to while you may, but don't seal it off.

2) Our founders did not provide for judges to impose their ideas of fairness. Making laws is for elected Congresspeople. Judges judge the law and The Constitution, which doesn't and shouldn't regulate marriage.

I don't favor it, but actually there is a lot of popular will to protect marriage as between a man and a woman, as it has been throughout recorded history.

I'm inclined to agree that civil and religious ceremonies shouldn't be conflated. California in fact, already had civil unions. And, I think people should be able to assign civil privileges to whom they want, even family members. But, the argument here is semantic: it's over the word, "marriage."

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