Monday, November 06, 2006

Voting “Yes” on the Marriage Amendment Protects Heterosexual Marriage

From Patrick McIlheran:
Interestly, the side favoring gay marriage has dropped its ads about how the defend-marriage amendment will rob shacked-up couples of their right to be treated by everyone else as married. Whether it’s because the argument has been shown to be purest bunk or because it wasn’t working so well, the ads are back to the original, and deceptive, argument that gay marriage is illegal now.

Yes, gay marriage is illegal now in Wisconsin. It was illegal in Massachusetts, and there was no gay marriage in either Vermont or New Jersey before courts in those states, seeing the opening, demanded that the law treat same-sex couples just as if they were married.

There is no evidence it will remain illegal here without the amendment, and troubling signs that it won’t. What is most telling is that generally, people who favor gay marriage have argued hard against the amendment, saying it will foreclose the chance society will grant what their ads say will never happen.

Here’s how it works: If you think marriage should stay one woman and one man each, then you’re in favor of the amendment. If you want to leave it up to courts to order gay marriage here, then you’d vote no. The ad saying that “no” means we won’t get gay marriage in Wisconsin is a genteel lie.

What is just as false is the claim that voting yes -- that is, saying marriage should remain as it is -- is somehow writing discrimination into the constitution. This depends on people thinking that not permitting gay marriage is the same as making long-term gay relationships illegal.

Ten seconds’ contemplation shows this to be nonsense. There is no constituency for again making gay relationships illegal. There should be no constituency for it, either: Who loves whom is not a matter for the public to decide.

But saying that shows how wrong is the argument that not redefining marriage to include same-sex couples is somehow the state sticking its nose into someone’s private business. Marriage is not private business. If it were, it wouldn’t require anyone but the happy couple. It wouldn’t require a minister or a judge or laws or the recognition of society.

Marriage is, instead, the special status afforded to a couple by society. When a couple is married, we all are compelled, more or less, to treat them differently than other pairs of people in other relationships, such as friends, siblings, roommates, lovers. Marriage is the explicit demand of a couple that their private relationship be a public thing.


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