Thursday, August 5, 2010

Responses to the Prop 8 Ruling

With California's ban on same sex marriage invalidated by a federal judge's ruling, the question becomes how then shall we respond. Not in the legal sense, but how should those on both sides react in word and deed.

For those who celebrate the ruling as an unalloyed good, I would advise you to pause and reflect on the implications of fundamentally altering a social institution that has served us in good stead for generations. Like I said, I would do that, but I get the sense that there is very little consideration of such implications. Redefining marriage will have far reaching and unforeseen consequences. You may believe that the benefits of extending the notion of marriage to same sex couples outweigh those consequences, but pretending like they don't exist is dealing in bad faith.

And for conservatives, how should we respond? Illy-T offers what he sees as the natural response:
Indeed, you'd think that would be the politically conservative position, where the State...interferes at only the bare administrative minimum in the private and consensual domestic arrangements of individual Americans.
Let me (humbly) disagree and say that this is a response that only a libertarian could love. Conservatives are not crazy to see such an upheaval as an attack on "our little platoons" but frankly I'm skeptical of the value of one more outraged blog post denouncing liberal elite judges, even when the posts are veneered with serious discussions of how findings of fact and conclusions of law are treated differently on appeal.

Instead, how about building up the institution that you fear is being harmed, namely marriage. Talk to your wife, play with your kids. Better yet, talk to your wife about having more kids to play with. Burke meant that the platoons were small relative to society as a whole, he didn't mean you should just have two kids and then get a vasectomy. This is especially troubling if it's done out of a desire for material comfort. Most people who call themselves conservative would agree that serial divorce cheapens marriage, but limiting family size just so all the car seats fit in the sedan and you can afford to go to Disney World every other year may be just as harmful.

Obviously this issue is far from over, but even at this early stage it appears to me that conservatives and defenders of traditional marriage have their work cut out for them. Not in the courtroom mind you, but in their own homes.


Anonymous said...

The court decision was a big victory for homosexual "rights." By that, show me where there is a right to marriage--hetero or homo--anywhere in US law.

Most likely, the Ninth Court of Appeals will sustain this ruling. It will be up to SCOTUS to make the final decision.

Hopefully, a more competent defensive team and strategy will be employed at that time. There are other aspects involved, eg, state's rights and is marriage a right or a privilege?


D said...

I am still impatiently waiting for a conservative to explain to me how the State is involved in the religious institution of marriage (given their alleged small government stance) or why liberals want the State to define marriage when they make such a hullaballoo about separation of church and state.

Utilitarian and 'pro-family' arguments are preposterous, given the state of hetero marriage and its astronomical divroce rates.

Ordinary Jill said...

D, liberals are concerned with civil marriage, not religious marriage.

In this country, the clergy is granted the privilege of performing legal marriages along with the religious ceremony, but that is not the case everywhere (France, for instance, where couples legally wed at City Hall and may have a separate church wedding afterward).

Before the Civil War, in some parts of the U.S., slaves were not allowed to legally marry, but they still had religious ceremonies ("jumping over the broom") to bless their unions.

Thanks to the separation of church and state, divorced individuals are allowed to remarry in this country, but that does not mean that the Catholic Church has to officiate at (or recognize) such weddings.

FLDS men enter into polygamous religious marriages, although they only have one legal wife.

Do not equate civil and religious marriage. They are two separate things, although the ceremonies are often combined for the sake of convenience.

D said...


Marriage is solely a religious institution. A 'civil' marriage is superfluous and redundant. People living together require no permission from the State.

Marriage is a religious unity between two people. Civil arrangements are not marriage - why do you require permission or approval from the State to live with someone else?

Ordinary Jill said...

D, you're just plain wrong. My husband and I do not need the State's permission to live together, but we need the State to make us each other's next of kin. We need the State to allow us to jointly adopt a child, so that if one of us dies, the surviving parent can retain custody.

In ancient times, marriage was a property transaction. Even in the early (Christian) Middle Ages, marriage ceremonies took place outside the church door, with a celebratory mass inside afterward to bless the union, because the marriage itself was a worldly contract.

The religious institution of marriage is a relatively late development in the history of civilization, and each religion put a different spin on it. Some religions (notably the Shakers) refused to sanction it at all, insisting on celibacy for their followers.

Religion does not have a monopoly on marriage, except in a theocracy. The U.S. is not a theocracy, nor should it be.

J. Strupp said...

......most of these folks aren't interested in same-sex adoption and/or the ability for your next of kin to retain custody/draw benefits from the state, should you or your spouse die.

And once you strip down all of the rhetoric, that's what this issue boils down to.

Ironically, I can think of nothing more Christian than a loving pair, regardless of sexual orientation, raising a child (children) to make this world a better place. Some things in this world (and the next) are just that simple.

Concerned Christian said...

J. Strupp,

If you are a Christian, you might want to spend a little more time reading your Bible.

If you are not, then perhaps you should refrain from saying what is or is not "Christian" behavior.