The libertarian in me says people are free to do what they want so long as it does no harm to others. David Harsanyi sums up this point of view in his article, Time for a Divorce.
But isn't it about time we freed marriage from the state?For the tried and true culture warriors, this just won’t do. I too am opposed to cultural and definitional finagling. Marriage is a time-tested institution common to almost all cultures, and but for a few rare exceptions, it has always meant a union of opposite sexes.
Imagine if government had no interest in the definition of marriage. Individuals could commit to each other, head to the local priest or rabbi or shaman -- or no one at all -- and enter into contractual agreements, call their blissful union whatever they felt it should be called and go about the business of their lives.
I certainly don't believe that gay marriage will trigger societal instability or undermine traditional marriage -- we already have that covered -- but mostly I believe your private relationships are none of my business.
An Illogical and Biased Ruling
Dan McLaughlin has written the definitive article on the subject, The Prop 8 Decision, Having it Both Ways. In it, he reveals the logical inconsistencies of Judge Walker’s central thesis:
Judge Walker’s decision is internally, logically inconsistent in its treatment of the worth of cultural values, arguing that morality and tradition are not a valid basis for supporting the legal status of marriage, but at the same time finding a Constitutional violation from the fact that the same-sex alternative (domestic partnerships) lacks the social and cultural status that marriage has…and which it derives from its grounding in longstanding moral, cultural and religious traditions.McLaughlin also explains the different sections of a court ruling, and points out how the judge smuggled his biased assertions into the “Facts” section of this particular one. If you want to understand the legal aspects of the case, this is a must-read.
Matthew J Franck’s “Assault on Moral Reasoning” shows how to argue this subject on its merits without resorting to biblical principles which have no standing in US Law. He also explains how despite this, the societal norms of a people, informed by their faith, do indeed figure into lawmaking.
Once it would have been thought to strengthen the case for a law, that it rested on the moral views of the lawmakers, if no countervailing right against being governed by such views could be adduced. And it would have been a matter of no legal suspicion whatsoever that the moral views informing a law found confirmation in widely held religious views as well.Just as important, Franck explains the logical fallacies in Judge Walker’s reasoning.
For such moral principles are not articles of faith, in the sense of being specially revealed to the elect or the faithful. They are the conclusions of trains of reasoning about right and wrong, and about human ends and the fitness of the means to them.
In language we might borrow from Plato's Euthyphro, the moral norms that govern marriage are embraced by the pious not because they are mysterious commands of an inscrutable divine will, but because they are rationally knowable as good in themselves, and for this reason find support in the dictates of faith as well.
Perhaps the most surprising thing in the judge's opinion is his declaration that "gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage." This line, quoted everywhere within hours with evident astonishment, appears to be the sheerest ipse dixit-a judicial "because I said so"-and the phrase "no longer" conveys that palpable sense that one is being mugged by a progressive.If you want to argue this issue and defend your point of view, I highly recommend these two articles. For extra credit, there’s more reading at the end of this post.
Patrick McIlheran - Right On
USA Today - It’s Not About You
WSJ - Prop 8