“What’s your view of gay marriage”? “Well, I think if you love somebody you should simply be able to marry them – “what’s your opinion”? “Who loves whom is none of my business but redefining marriage for same sex unions is a really complex issue and …..” Hmmm, I never took you for a bigot”.
That’s about how it goes. I know. I’ve tried many, many times.
It is virtually impossible to have a thoughtful hearing on this issue without it going emotionally off the tracks before the end of opening arguments. And that is the first problem.
“Those who demand the most tolerance from others typically exhibit the least tolerance in return” – Basicman’s Axiom of Life #6
Lost in the mine field of civil rights, fairness, moral equivalencies, and human decency are inconvenient items such as cultural opinion, democratic process, Constitutional considerations and how states rights plays a determining factor in the bigger picture. The person that approaches this issue while keeping all these items in play is doomed to a frustrating (and usually very short and heated) debate from the ‘I want it and I want it now’ crowd. Until the proponents of gay marriage become comfortable talking about this issue in concert with all the aforementioned social and legal appendages that accompany it and curb their hair trigger to fire off words like homophobe, bigot, and hater; rational discourse will never happen. Who in their right mind will embrace a thoughtful conversation after receiving such a label?
Regrettably, this tone won’t get any less shrill now that Barack Obama has donned the Newsweek halo signifying ascendency as the First Gay President. His sycophants slobber in admiration for this act of political (calculation) bravery expecting that now, finally, President Obama will lead them to what they want. He won’t, he can’t and they can’t grasp why not. And that is the second problem.
When I have attempted to broach this topic with bright, educated supporters of gay marriage and the subject of the Constitution and the role it plays in how our society lives and interacts – there is a perceptible disconnect between what they think it says and what it actually provides. There is only sparse, if any knowledge of the Founders original intent and those early intense debates about states’ rights in a Federalist system. Without this knowledge is little understanding of how the Tenth Amendment relates to gay marriage.
The Founders debated at length how to deal morally and politically with the equality of all humans in the context of slavery. Regrettably, they all went to their grave knowing they failed in this regard. It is highly doubtful however that Adams, Franklin, Jay, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Washington talked much about men marrying men or women marrying women, let alone in terms of equality and fairness as they cobbled together the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Therein lies their genius in establishing the Tenth Amendment and the idea that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The Tenth Amendment provides for the State of Nevada to allow prostitution in 11 of it’s counties while it is illegal throughout the rest of the United States. What’s okay in Nevada isn’t necessarily okay in California because the people of these states say so. Today, thirty one states have a constitutional ban restricting marriage to one man and one woman. Fourteen additional states have laws that limit marriage to one man and one woman (no constitutional wording that bans it). Only Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Washington, DC allow gay marriage.
This is the bottom line of the current debate; the one which I never seem to get to in my efforts to have a dialogue on the issue – The people of a each state get to decide; not President Obama, not Congress, not the Supreme Court (yet).
The discussion actually illuminates a monumental failure of our education system when a large segment of our society educated at or beyond the college level doesn’t understand how our republic actually operates. Until such time as states apply their Tenth Amendment rights, as North Carolina did a few weeks ago, it would be great to tone down the ideological rhetoric and feckless name calling which substitutes these days for substantive dialogue on a tough issue.