Sunday, May 18, 2008

Same Sex Marriages and the Constitution

I want to come at this from a purely secular point of view. The reality here is that while our courts have begun to quote precedence and arguements from other courts, with the possible exception of Islamic courts (and that's a different discussion altogether), they won't reference religious thinking. Consequently I'm going to look at this from the purely secular point of view.

First, let me say that I understand that the California Supreme Court decision is dependent upon their interpretation of the California Constitution. I believe that this needs to be rethought. Why should the Constitution of California rule? Decisions with respect to marriage impact other states and the IRS (as marital state is a consideration in Federal tax filling). As such, I believe the US Constitution should rule.

Now look, I'm not a lawyer. But that seems right to me. So what do I think the US Constitution says on this topic?

Again, I'm not a lawyer. Certainly not a Constitutional lawyer. But I can read. The US Constitution says
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The bold there is (obviously) my emphasis.

See, as I read that little piece of English I see that the government is allowed to do things to promote "our Posterity". And that means they can give special treatment to heterosexual couples - since that is where "our Posterity" comes from. Now that doesn't mean the government has to give any special treatment, but they could.

Let's assume for the moment that I have read that wrong, and that the government may not allow for such special treatment. Well then I have to ask, What stops the polygamists from being allowed to marry? I don't see anything in the Constitution allowing us to forbid that. What stops groups from being married? What stops an adult from marrying a child? A member of some other species? Even an inanimate object? Seriously, if the line can't be drawn between hetereosexual couples and homsexual couples, where can it be drawn, if anywhere - based on the Constitution? I honestly think that the polygamists have a better arguement (at least they produce "Posterity").

I guess I'm not really upset about the decision, if homosexual couples want to pay higher taxes and deal with the fallout of divorces, fine. But I do see a slippery slope looming before us. And that worries me.


K T Cat said...

I'm trying to figure out just why we did this. I can't figure out what was so out-of-whack that we needed to redefine an institution that had been around for millenia.

Is it because the status quo was unfair to gays? Handicapped people can't compete in the Olympics, either. How about if we redefine the 100 yard dash to include motorized wheelchairs?

Tim Eisele said...

Well, I'm not sure why we should *not* do it. I know some gay couples personally, and I don't see where they are impacting society any differently than conventionally married couples, aside from the fact that their relationship has no legal standing. They certainly have no discernable effect on my own marriage, or on my personal ability to raise children. From their point of view, even if a couple does not have children, it is of great value to have another person who has certain legal bonds to you, can fully share resources with you, will help cover for you as necessary and allow division of labor, will have automatic legal standing as your representative if you are incapacitated, and who can generally watch your back in a sometimes difficult world. What do we *gain* from telling people, "no, you can't form a lifelong, legally-binding partnership with the person of your choice"?

As for what is out-of-wack, how many times have you heard of couples that broke up because the husband was gay/the wife was a lesbian, and they'd only gotten married in the first place in order to "pass", and because they'd thought they needed the kind of partnership that a spouse provides? Wouldn't everyone have been happier if they had followed their natural tendencies in the first place, instead of trying to fake it?

Personally, I think that allowing gay and lesbian marriages will generally tend to *strengthen* heterosexual marriages, by removing one of the big causes for the heterosexual marriages to break up.