The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether or not same-sex marriage is a natural right to be protected nationwide under the constitution.
I emailed one of the advocates from one of the most prominent think tanks in the country who recently gave an amicus brief to the Court.
“Dear Mr. ***,
“I just read your two entries on the *** webstie “***” and the one named in the subject. Forgive me if this is an old news argument that has been settled in the courts, but I have never heard a good response from the defenders of same-sex marriage. given your first hand knowledge of what is happening in the Supreme court now, I would be very grateful if you could take a minute to explain this to me. It goes like this:
“Can a gay man marry a lesbian woman? – Yes.
“In such a marriage, are not two homosexual persons married, and is their married not afforded all the same rights and privileges as a traditional marriage? (That is, full equality under the law?) – Yes.
“If gays and lesbians were not allowed to get married because they were homosexual (that is, wrongful discrimination), would these marriages be legal? – I would have to assume no.
“Therefore, isn’t the intellectually honest position to argue for the redefinition of marriage (not for equality, which already exists under the traditional definition) since according to the traditional definition gays and lesbians enjoy their 14th amendment rights? Furthermore, straight people have no special right or privilege to marry a member of the same sex, which they would if they had unequal protection that gays don’t have.
“The logical response is, of course, ‘well what’s the point of a gay man marrying a lesbian? The whole point is for gay couples to get married.’ To that I say fine, but then make the proper argument – that of redefining marriage to mean two members of the same sex, not that of equality – which already exists under the traditional definition.”
To which he replied:
“It’s about the equal right to a license to marry the person of your choice, and whether states have a good enough reason to restrict that right.”
I mentioned in my email to him that I have never received a good rebuttal to this argument, and I didn’t get one here either. He’s a busy man, so I don’t hold it against him. The most honest thing I’ve heard was essentially “yes, you’re right, but it doesn’t matter.” That’s because pushing for the redefinition of marriage is completely emotional, and has more to do with “Selma Envy” than with expanding liberty.
If you support the redefinition of marriage in the cause of equality, please carefully read the questions I posed to the lawyer above. You may conclude “okay, redefinition of marriage. Big deal, I still support it.” That’s fine, but you must be intellectually honest and acknowledge that redefining marriage and marriage equality (which already exists under the traditional definition) are fundamentally different things to argue for, and redefinition is a much harder sell. Because of this, the movement has to mask itself in the language of equal protection (which – last time, I promise – already exists under the traditional definition), which is a quintessential American value.
Let’s look at the email response I got from our advocate friend. “It’s about the equal right to a license to marry the person of your choice…” This begs so many questions, but when you raise them you are brushed off as completely out of line and paranoid. A very short time ago you would have been considered crazy if you said one day the Supreme Court would be considering redefining marriage to include two members of the same sex. So it’s not a strong argument to say it’s paranoid or out of line to ask “can couples marry couples?” “Can parents marry children?” “Can people marry animals or inanimate objects?”
You could say those questions sound wacky now and no one today seriously considers them. And I would like to agree with you, but this lady married to her two cats, this lady married to a dolphin, this lady (?) married to a roller coaster, this lady married to a bridge and this lady married to a tree suggest otherwise. As we start changing – indeed eliminating – standards for the institution of marriage, you cannot surely say people won’t be asking these questions in the future. Marriage is either one thing or it’s anything. If it’s two things, there is no reason why it can’t be three, four or five things – not if equality is the goal. By what standard can you say no?
The proper American answers to this issue are those of federalism. Let those “laboratories of democracy” show us the way. Your fundamental right here is protected in the First Amendment which enshrines your right to freedom of assembly. That is, you have the right to love and spend your life with anyone you choose.
If the Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage shall be recognized by the government, we will in fact have legislated a new form of unequal protection under the law.