Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yes you can, no you can't

By Capt. Fogg

Private morality does not seem to me to be the state’s business unless it compromises the public welfare.

-Bishop Shelby Spong-

Yes you can, no you can't, yes you can, no you can't. It must be infuriating for California's same sex couples looking for stability and security in their lives. Gay marriage opponents have again succeeded in blocking further unions pending yet another appeal for reasons known only to themselves -- although most seem happy to tell you why they're against it.

Do the objections make sense or are they simply a reflection of a selective morality with perhaps a bit of personal anxiety adding a note of passion? The appeal that came quickly after the judicial decision to overturn the ban tells us that

"California, 44 other states, and the vast majority of countries throughout the world continue to draw the line at marriage because it continues to serve a vital societal interest."

And what would that social interest be? Why,

"to channel potentially procreative sexual relationships into enduring, stable unions for the sake of responsibly producing and raising the next generation."

Astonishing, isn't it that the conservatives behind this can still make a living challenging the right of the State to serve social needs while advocating it so vociferously in this instance. Doesn't Social Security and Medicare and welfare and don't income taxes serve a societal interest? Is there any evidence anywhere of a negative effect on the public welfare of allowing gay marriage?

Sure, I could ask silly questions about why older couples past child producing age are allowed to marry or people who don't want to or are unable to have offspring are exempt from the Biblical mandate to go out there and get pregnant. I could ask why the State of California can find a right anywhere in its constitution or the Federal Constitution to promote Christianity and I could snicker at the fact that it really doesn't matter whether people are married -- they make babies anyway and I could point out as well that stable, married gay couples seem to do as well if not better at raising children, but we both know I wouldn't get a sensible answer because the position isn't about any of those things. It's about a personal repugnance concerning the private behaviour of other people with its origins in a religious tradition not recognized or supported by the government of the United States. Preventing a social contract between same sex couples serves no more legitimate a societal interest than outlawing interracial marriage, segregating public facilities, keeping Jews out of Palm Beach hotels or preventing women from voting. Yet that same rhetoric was used to defend those things and worse.

Pace the nauseous nattering of people like Sarah Palin and a large number of Republican hypocrites, there is no clause in the constitution saying "insert the Bible here." The objections are an excuse and nothing more and they are neither supported by facts or reason.

Another frequent argument is that the court which overturned the ban was " ignoring the will of the people" which of course is part of the job description of the legislative branch; that being another bulwark against the mob rule our founders were so rightly worried about. That is, or should be embarrassing to those who have made careers bloviating about "activist judges" since what they're calling for is a judge who rules on personal and political sentiment rather than a strict interpretation of the law. Is this hypocrisy or duplicity? Does it matter?

Marriage isn't about breeding, it's about property and responsibility and the right of one person to care for another without legal hindrance. The law isn't about bringing a Christian or Jewish or Muslim utopia to the world in preparation for it's destruction. I agree with bona fide Libertarians that the role of government in promoting some vision of public good needs to be limited and its ability to intrude into the most private and intimate parts of the human experience needs to be restricted to matters of the utmost need. There is no need or evidence of need here. There is no logical or factual consistency here and the allegedly conservative position isn't conservative. It's everything conservatives tell us they hate: an intrusion into life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by a self appointed group of moralizers. Morality is not the government's business. Sin is not the government's business: It's God's business. God can handle it.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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