Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thomas Sowell's op-ed about the gay marriage bans

After reading Thomas Sowell's op-ed about the recent election and the success of such measures as Proposition 8 in California (see here for his op-ed), I thought for a while about why I disagreed with him on this issue (see here).

For one thing, marriage can't just be about protecting the ability of a man and a woman to have children. My marriage doesn't include children, so either my husband and I don't deserve to have the protections afforded to married people, or something else must be going on in the institution of marriage to justify protecting people like us (childless by choice) as well as protecting people who want to have children, but can't. I suppose that one could argue that we could always decide to have children, so marriage is there to protect our "children potential" or that we could adopt children--but then, unless a state chooses to ban adoption by lesbians and gay men, the "children potential" of gay marriages is just as possible as our own "children potential" in my marriage.

The other argument--that banning gay marriage is different from banning inter-racial marriage--rests on the assumption, I think, that being a member of a particular race is immutable but that being gay or lesbian (or transgendered) isn't immutable. That argument doesn't work for me, either, based on what I've read about being homosexual and based on my own experiences with my lesbian and gay friends. The whole "where do you draw the line" argument--that allowing gay marriage will lead inexorably to allowing, say, person-canine marriage (yep, I've heard that one) ignores the fact that states limit man-woman marriages on line-drawing reasons all the time. For example, there are limits on marrying under-age opposite-sex people.

My hope is that, in a few short years, this debate will go the way of the debate on inter-racial marriage. In the meantime, though, a whole lot of people whom I love are going through some serious hurt as they listen to some of the rhetoric being lobbed their way. Their hurt is my hurt, too.


Stephen said...

Marriage is really transformed. All the old law with annulments for childless marriages, etc. seems so Dark Ages, the chattel/partnership for life laws (where marriages did not last any longer, they just tended to be ended by death rather than divorce) so brutal and short.

The problem is that life and culture lost the partnerships that people formed in lieu of marriage before this last wave.

Marriage seems to be either a formalized pair bonding, or something else.

The question is what is the something else. I'd share the answer, but I don't have one yet, though it is obviously causing a great deal of tumult.

Stephen said...

Well, you made me think, I've now got a post on the question of just what marriage is and why I think the current debate asks the wrong questions, and so gets the wrong answers.

lingeriezone said...

I am just married and learn a law

Anonymous said...

Marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Plain and simple. Everyone wants to spin it in different ways, but the majority has spoken and they are right and when courts over-turn outcomes, the response is death to our society. Civil unions are between same-sex couples and they are afforded all the benefits with civil unions and anything else can be legally done with the correct paperwork (power of attorney or joint tenancy, etc.). So, their argument is completely moot.

Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks, Anonymous, but I respectfully disagree. The majority, once upon a time, also supported slavery and McCarthyism. I'm not so convinced that the majority always knows what's right.

I certainly appreciate your taking the time to post a comment, though.