Get the GOP Out of Marriage
by Jeff Wright and Steve Gresh, March 3, 2004 (posted)
[Below Jeff Wright and Steve Gresh reply to an article by State Senator Mark Hillman about gay marriage.]
While I agree that gay marriage is abnormal by definition (because such a small percentage would engage in it) I think this particular effort, to restrict the definition of marriage by conservatives, is going to end badly. But maybe, in some ways, correctly if the law of unintended consequences takes over. It should end with the termination of any state-sponsored marriage, once the hypocrisy and nihilism of the "conservative" type of thinking is fully observed.
Abnormal does not translate into horrific, it is just different from the normal. At some point folks who think that abnormal means awful or horrific need to consider where that thinking always leads. To violence, perpetuation of ignorance, and subjugation of those affected by the state.
Marriage of any kind is a sacred bond between human beings, in which the state should have no interest or say. Maybe that's why there is currently no mention of it in our state or federal Constitution. I can think of no writing by any of the Founders or others related to this subject. So, at minimum, it is a Bill of Rights Ninth or Tenth amendment issue already solved. Any two or more humans wishing to commit themselves to a lasting relationship which will keep and protect each other, and then keeping their vows, should always proceed. That is the only logical, actual foundation upon which the benevolent state can be built. At least one that is meant to serve all of it's citizens, not a select group.
Conventional (traditional?) marriage is more common than gay, lesbian, plural, or communal marriage. Mainly because that is the convention that is enforced and "socially" acceptable. However, lasting conventional marriage is becoming very rare indeed. But not because we lack a federal amendment. That won't fix anything. It will continue the desecration of our federal Constitution.
Gays and others have picked up on the fact that state-sanctioned marriage, more than anything, is a ticket to free state-sanctioned benefits and other goodies. That's why they want in. They want to be part of the gravy train of legal benefits that flow from the state to any subsidized institution. That is actually what state-sanctioned "legal" marriage means. What else could it mean to be married in the eyes of the state? Explain that one, please?
From tax credits, to loans, to survivorship in Social Security, to estates divided up in state divorce proceedings, the list of benefits provided for state-sanctioned marriage is immense compared to non-state sanctioned marriage; which is none. That is the reason it needs to end. I didn't need the state to marry and keep my wife. I only needed a union I loved and respected. The state was and is an unwanted intruder.
The idea that single-man/single-woman marriage is the only "natural" combination is ludicrous. As evidenced by thousands of years of studied, observed, and chronicled human behavior, a marriage between a single man and a single woman is in no way the only "natural" combination. Or even the most desirable to many. The most "natural" behavior for men is to "marry" multiple women with whom to mate. The most natural behavior for a woman is to seek one stable male at a time with whom to mate until her offspring are independent enough to operate on their own. Any anthropologist will explain this to you. Any field biologist will tell you the same. The current rate of dysfunctional conventional marriage should explain this to you as well. Just check the adultery and divorce statistics. The domestic and family abuse, the drug and alcohol abuse rate.
Only a very short period of convention and religious stricture has produced a single man marrying a single woman, supposedly for life. Even that seems odd given the numerous different types of marital relationships given as acceptable throughout the Bible. As evidenced by the failure rate of marriage of a single man to a single woman (even among avowed conservatives, even supposedly "religious" conservatives) this convention (tradition?) is dysfunctional. Persisting in the state recognition of a dysfunctional convention is repugnant to our Constitutions. It always has been. Only the beatings, harassment, state terrorism, social shunning, and the like (think Mormons being chased halfway across the continent from Ohio to Utah) has kept the "tradition" going. Now conservatives want to do it by introducing discrimination back into the Constitution. Interestingly enough I find neither my state nor federal Constitution contain any previous mention of this "tradition."
Further evidenced by the fact that national Republicans feel the need to amend the federal Constitution tells us that there was no intention by any authors previously to restrict this future behavior. Their only attempt was the coercion of Utah before it was allowed to enter in the "Union" of dissimilar states (freedom of religion only extends so far, I guess). However, even then it didn't wind up in any other state or the federal Constitution. Only mandated coercion under the table did it to Utah. Interesting allegory there, I think. The 50 states were set up to be whatever they wanted to be in this regard as long as they did not violate the fundamental rights and liberties of their citizens as defined in the federal Constitution. Now along comes Ms. Musgrave with her particular form of despotic depravity to impose the view of the majority on the minority. It is what the documents were supposedly designed to protect against: the tyranny of the majority.
My wife and I have been happily married for 22 years and have produced two fine sons. I suspect that we may remain married until the end of our natural lives. That suits us, and we are seeking our Happiness through it. However, we recognize that form of marriage and pursuit of Happiness may not suit everyone around us. And why should it? Many folks we know have been married and divorced multiple times. Many more we know have never been married and have had multiple temporary partners. Does that make any of them bad people? Not at all. Should multiple marriages or multiple temporary arrangements be outlawed? Absolutely not. But to be consistent, shouldn't that be the next step after legally defining marriage as only between a single man and a single woman? If you really want to enforce a social norm, then let's actually enforce it! Let's jail all the couples that "shack up." Public flogging should be the punishment of the twice divorced, shouldn't it?
Just a few other questions arise from Hillman's article. If the position is that marriage is for procreation, does that imply the position that sterile people cannot marry? How about impotent men such as Bob Dole? Oral sex does not lead to children, is that sinful? It seems, according to the described arguments, that it is OK for homosexuals to marry so long as they do not engage in sex. True?
My wife and I do not feel threatened by others who wish to seek their own happiness in accordance with their own inner directives. All we demand is that once joined in their selected arrangement, that they live in peace and harmony with their neighbors while seeking their freedoms and liberties. If they wish to raise children, their own or others, that they teach them to be responsible, accountable, and peaceful citizens doing no harm to their neighbors. It would seem that such amendments and grandstanding by conservatives will teach none of those values. Such initiatives will teach coercion, suspicion, and hatred. So do those who would sponsor such initiatives feel threatened? It would appear so.
If anything needs to happen at this point, it is the dismantlement of all the special privileges and benefits that the state bestows upon the "traditional" marriage. Why not let people go back to being married in the manner that they choose for the right reasons, not the artificial ones created and enforced by the state? You know -- the dysfunctional "tradition." The one where 50% of marriages end in divorce. The one that, because the state makes it so convenient and beneficial, continues to force a convention on people that is, in fact, mostly un-natural for all but a small percentage of the men and women out there. Again just check the statistics mentioned earlier. How many single men and single women in this country now marry once, for life? What shall we do with those who don't?
Most Republicans wouldn't personally think about intruding upon our bedroom, our living room, our romance, and personal life personally, would they? Is it because we have a "traditional" marriage and family? Or because Republicans say they respect our freedom, rights, and liberties? Why do some Republicans feel so compelled to intrude on those of my neighbors who are perhaps not as "traditional" as we? And to use the coercive power of the State to do it.
To paraphrase Jay Carper, a Christian Libertarian friend of mine, marriage is a contractual relationship that involves a man, a woman, and God, if they so choose to include God as a party in their contract. To allow the state to be a party in a (sacred) marriage contract by obtaining a license and permission from the state to marry, in the same way that one obtains a license and permission from the state to own a dog, to drive a car, or to hunt for game (all of which are also unnecessary intrusions by the state into the private affairs of individuals, but they're different subjects), demeans the marriage contract and the relationship defined by that contract.
While I doubt that many Christian conservatives will ever comprehend the totality of the negative effects on society of their attempts to use state-sponsored coercion to promote Christian values, I contend that all such attempts further erode the influence that private institutions, such as churches, and other free associations of people have in the guidance of society in a moral direction.
Individuals, private businesses, clubs, religious organizations, and other free associations of people should always be free to discriminate against anyone for any reason they wish. The free market will determine their fate.
Government, on the other hand, should never discriminate against any peaceful citizens or interfere in any relationships between or among consenting adults, for any reason, regardless of intent.
Laws that confer benefits to individuals based on the possession of marriage licenses obtained from the state are just as wrong as affirmative action programs for racial minorities, mandates imposed on private businesses to accommodate individuals with disabilities, and other types of coercion by government.
Instead of reacting to the recent gay "marriage" activity in the typical, conservative knee-jerk manner, this is a golden opportunity for true fiscal and social conservatives to advocate the elimination of the income tax, social security, taxpayer-funded group health insurance plans for government employees, and many other government programs which are wrong fiscal and social policies -- and, are the very policies which the liberals need desperately to perpetuate to make their positions seem reasonable and legitimate.
Steve Gresh is the Vice President of the Colorado chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus.