Friday, June 09, 2006

Charles Krauthammer is...Making (A Wee Bit of) Sense?!?!?!?!?

Uh, I'm as stunned as you are... But he does have some decent points in todays Post. Now, remember: good does not mean sufficiently good, nor dispository, but, rather, worthy of consideration.

He can't resist the urge to call those who disagree with him dimwitted...well, actually he says we might just be grossly partisan...but try to ignore that for the purposes of considering the substance of his argument.

I and most people I know consider it fairly obvious that banning same-sex marriage is analogous to banning marriage between people of different races. Consequently, this is an issue of fundamental human and civil rights. Consequently the courts have every right to step in.

Krauthammer, in essence, denies this and asserts that ancient and (at least nearly universal) social norms should at least get presumption, putting the burden of proof on our side. (I am inclined to think we can carry this burden, but never mind that now).

He also asserts that that the charge of divisiveness is more naturally made against those of us who seek to overturn the well-entrenched tradition than it is against those who seek to defend it. That seems like a reasonable point to me.

Of course, divisiveness (a cousin of incivility) is sometimes permissible and sometimes it may be in this case. If we are right about the moral permissibility of same-sex marriage, then we're obligated to be divisive by promoting social change which (like racial integration) many citizens oppose. But Krauthammer's point remains reasonable--we're the ones being divisive.

He goes on to argue that our "partisanship and dimwittedness" have obscured the discussion of the two possible grounds for the FMA, federalism and popular sovereignty. His discussion there is worth a read, even though I don't find it particularly persuasive.

My own view on this, in brief, is that those who pushed to legalize same-sex marriage back in '03-'04 made a gigantic mistake. The likelihood of success was small, and it may very well have cost us the 2004 election. It was far more important to the world to have gotten Bush out of office. The push to legalize same-sex marriage--important as it is--is far less important and should have waited. Jumping the gun also almost got us the FMA.

I'm also inclined to think that we need to push for civil unions instead. Too many of our fellow citizens are too adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage right now, and the difference between marriage and civil union is unimportant. I'm usually inclined to say "that's just bigotry, and the sentiments of bigots do not enter into such calculations"... But I guess I'm becoming more willing to show some deference to conservative arguments about the justificatory weight of tradition. Tradition is in no way sacred, but in tough and controversial cases it can give us a reason to go slow.

Incidentally, the civil union option should also be made available to different-sex couples. Heterosexual liberals could then show their solidarity with homosexual couples by getting unionized instead of getting married. Eventually...and it'd probably only take ten or fifteen years...people will get used to homosexual civil unions and opposition to same-sex marriage will fade. At that point a push for same-sex marriage could succeed.

But, of course, I've got nonstandard views on marriage anyway. Johnny Quest and I have more-or-less decided not to get married, in part to hit back against the social pressure to get married. We don't like people telling us what to do, especially generations of dead people.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an excellent post. You promoted an opinion piece by a political opponent and stated your disagreements; rightly criticized a useless ad hominem; accepted that your side was being divisive but gave clear reasons why it’s necessary; recognized that you have non-standard (not to say incorrect!) views on romantic coupling; and proposed a reasonable solution which to my mind is likely to succeed.

More stuff like this, rather than the GOPs plan to impeach Clinton in order to devalue impeachment, eh?

12:29 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

hey, thanks, Beavis. I do have occasional moments of clarity and charity... Gotta try to get more of 'em.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...

I think the question regarding homosexual marraige is: why is the state sanctioning a religious ceremony anyway?

(And by the way, in some states there is an option to marriage for heterosexual couples--common-law marriage.)

Me? I like the idea of marraige. I liked standing up in front of my family and friends and saying, "I love this person and am going to spend the rest of my life with him." Not on religious grounds, but because I mean it.

Sometimes, things become more real after you say them--after you publically pronounce them.

Personally, I think that it should be much harder to get married, and that there shouldn't be a push to get married if you aren't ready. But that's because I think marriage should be a lifetime committment made in front of family and friends, not a tax break or a way to get health insurance.

In short: you want to save the sanctity of marraige? Then remove financial and legal incentives to get married.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


What is it with you? You are like the voice of sweet reason on this blog.

I absolutely understand your point about standing up in front of friends and family and making a commitment. It does, indeed, seem to make it more real.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Random Michelle K said...


I am pretty sure that is the first time I have been called or compared to the voice of sweet reason.

(I just shared your comment with my husband, and he raised his eyebrows and said he was afeared.)


And really, I find marraige to be quite nice. :)

9:49 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I did it both ways, and marriage has been inconceivably better. 20th anniversary this week. :-)

But I understand the rebel thing.

4:29 AM  

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