Freethinking Politics

The secular case against gay marriage

I’ve already written about the wrongheadedness of gay-marriage activism (here, here, and especially here) and of its morally inconsequential and ideologically indefensible hollowness. I’ve even suggested that a much larger battle could be won — the removal of government from the characterization and enforcement of marriage — if only those who are so near-sighted and temporal in their understanding of government would step back from the visceral lure of gay marriage and entertain the appeal of a less intrusive government.

That liberal America leans on government to give what it is not entitled to give is reprehensible on its face, just as it is insupportable for social conservatives to demand that government take away or normalize what it is not entitled to take away or normalize. This doesn’t stop the ridiculous “hope for dreams” contingent from using emotion rather than reason to steer them through history.

Thomas Paine, in the opening paragraph of his Common Sense, writes that “a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom.”

Because government’s long-standing meddling in marriage, which is wrong, is not contested ideologically by mainstream Americans, the consensus is that government’s proclamations and involvement in such is right.

Liberal activists enshrine this rightness not by contesting the wrongness, but by fighting to be included in the wrongness. Spectacularly, they require the government to honor the 14th Amendment by excusing the government’s assumption of an authority that is not granted to it in the first place, except in the quiescence of those who have elected to be government’s subjects rather than its authors! In other words, the government has never had any authority to involve itself in marriage, but because it is involved in marriage, all the queer left wants is redress rooted very deeply in affairs that are none of government’s business. This position commands no respect. In fact, it should invite derision.

Demanding that government envelope queers in the gravity well of its untenable position on social contracts is mind boggling (you can pontificate all you want about the “sanctitity” of marriage, but then you invite only the scorn of individuals who see through the toxicity of religion’s influence on the instruments of government). I often have to cogitate on this inconsistency in liberal social politics just to prevent myself from being wooed by its venial charms.

Rightness (to pursue Paine’s point) grants a cause the privilege of throwing the burden of proving its wrongness on those who are in the protesting minority. The minority, in the case of gay marriage, is the Left. Excellent arguments exist for the government’s involvement in the eradication of inequal rights between blacks and whites at a time when the majority of Americans felt that segregation was just fine. I accept that an injustice of the majority can deprive a group of native and incontestable rights, and that the judicial system, in concert with evolving legislature eventually remedies its widespread application.

But what is native and incontestable about marriage? Marriage is of importance only for the following reasons:

  • It affords legal protections to those who are legally permitted to practice it.
  • It confounds ordinary social contracts with religio-political artifice.

I addressed legal protections when I talked about the wrongness of government meddling in marriage contracts. Queers simply want the wrongness applied to them as well. We (queers) used to just fight for equality based on basics. Marriage is not basic. It is the contract two emotional, sometimes irrational people enjoy to celebrate their union. Pretty straightforward. That ceremony, even among the non-religious, is often studded with spiritual importance and court frippery, all of which prove some sort of “traditionalist” case for institutional sanctity and empty-headed protections.

Two people can and often do enjoy fully loving, legally protected lives together without any conformance to government specifications. Social contracts are at the heart of civil society and, as such, deserve revolutionary defense against the political pathogens that lead to such a ridiculous waste of time and energy as gay marriage and all its electoral ephemera.

If the fight is about equal protection under the law, then gay rights’ nemeses (or a Court that finds decisively against them) will have to be convinced, which they have proven staunchly that they won’t be. Under our current system, this will require courts, then legislators, then citizens — yet again — to wrangle over the issue. Californians are free to rewrite their Constitution long after they’ve run out of toilet paper, which suggests that the fight in California will not resolve soon. I will watch with interest as the courts figure out how California’s new constitutional amendment shakes hands with the fed’s presumably stronger 14th amendment. Perhaps I’m just stupid, and the left has been plotting all along to force the U.S. Supreme Court to yield the legal seed that grows into the weed that chokes the life out of the Marriage State.

If the fight involves secularizing traditional marriage so that, counter-intuitively, marriage includes unions that are anathema to religious traditionalists, then queers who care about this are guilty of shoving their norms onto a group that already has its immutable own. That fight will be long, ugly, and inconclusive. The idea of queers telling others how they should define their ridiculous affairs disgusts me.

Gay marriage. The oxymoron that does not admirably comport itself. Irony and embarrassment abound, especially when even the lowly San Francisco Chronicle acknowledges just how cocky and lazy gay-marriage activists were: “The national round of rallies and marches show a fervor and enthusiasm that was missing during much of the Prop. 8 campaign, when overconfident opponents of the same-sex marriage ban were shocked by their defeat.”

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