Wednesday, May 09, 2012

To Understand Liberal Issues Like Gay Marriage Correctly, It Is Vital to Get the Basic Premises Right

There are few times that I do not agree with John Stossel (bumped), but the Fox News libertarian doesn't understand what could possibly be wrong with gay marriage, ending a recent column with the words:
Sorry, but I still don’t see what divorce and unwed motherhood have to do with gay marriage. It’s mostly straight people who are doing the divorcing and unwed mothering.
1) John Stossel doesn't seem to realize it, but when he mentions "alimony, child support", "divorce and unwed motherhood" as well as "straight people" — along with comments such as "I don’t care if there are three fathers and six mothers [if] it’s a stable relationship and the kids are connected with their parents" — he is answering his own question (notwithstanding the fact that the libertarian does not seem to be noticing all the ways in which judges, lawyers, divorce industry experts, and other government bureaucrats and parasites have managed to infiltrate themselves inside what was once called the sacrosanct family unit — check out Stephen Baskerville to see how bad that problem is).

First of all, no one is preventing two people from living together and from loving each other and from "commit[ting] to a life partner", and to a certain extent, nobody ever has. The gay sense of victimization throughout the centuries has been exaggerated, certainly this past century or two. In its obituaries of the 19th century, for instance, The Times of London would note that a certain person had been a "lifelong bachelor", and everyone understood what the newspaper meant by that.

So is there still a good reason to prevent gays from marrying? Well, the problem is — and I think that, upon thought, many a gay person would not disagree with me here (in fact, I believe that a gay person — a Log Cabin Republican? — could have written this post in the exact words I did) — not that gays want to get married, but what had to happen for them to want to get married in the first place

Tell me if I'm wrong (I admit to being no expert on the new-fangled college courses on gay history or gay literature), but throughout the centuries, throughout the millennia, there have been no calls, and no examples of longing (or very very few) for marriage between two men or between two women — nor indeed were there (m)any calls to "commit to a life partner" in the first decades of the gay rights movement.

For lifelong love, yes, and for tenderness and sweet nothings, yes, for lust for lean or muscular bodies, certainly, but for the desire of nuptials and a life spent together as "husband" and "wife" in a single bourgeois-type home, not really (or they are few and far between or with a touch of a smirk attached).

These calls came about only after — and only because of — the decline of traditional marriage (agreed, between straight people) along with the advent of open marriages and no-fault divorce. In other words, the desire of gays, male or female, for the "benefits" of matrimony only came about after, and only came about because, feminists and leftists dumbed those "benefits" down by making it OK to divorce on a whim and by making it alright to commit (what is now considered passé to be called) adultery.

Again — tell me if I'm wrong, but gayness has mostly to do, rightly or wrongly, with lust (and I mean that in a neutral way, neither in a positive nor in a negative sense), which is the same that we feel (or some of us feel) for a member of the opposite sex. Now, many heterosexuals are attracted to "hot chicks" (guys) and "hot bods" (gals), which is normal and neither good or bad, but our grandfathers and our grandmothers would have told us (or they would have told our fathers and our mothers) that marrying someone, solely or mainly, because of lust (say, a "bad boy" or a "trophy wife") was not necessarily a good idea. Get rid of your lust first (whether for same-sex partners or partners of the opposite sex), get it out of your system, if necessary, and then marry; but do not marry (solely) because of the lust and/or do not lust for others once the wedding is consummated…

Certainly, marriage due to lust, or with widespread lust remaining in the "hearts" (and in the loins), was commonly understood not to be a good idea until the feminists and their allies on the left brought us open marriages and no-fault divorce. The same can be said for gay marriage, and the calls for gay marriage, like the tendency for quickie marriages between heterosexuals, would start vanishing when and if (as soon as, in fact) the legal underpinnings as well as the cultural support for open marriages and/or for no-fault divorce came to an end.

2) Now, from a libertarian perspective, Amy D asks:
Why should the government have a bloody thing to say about marriage other than recognizing the legal contract issues?

You other conservatives say you want smaller government with less intrusiveness....would this not be the way to go?
The answer has been given in Harry Jaffa's A New Birth of Freedom: Marriage came before society; the advent of married couples came before the advent of individuals organizing themselves into societies; the one led to the other. All of the left's theses in the past century or so are basically based on the premise that society, and government, came before, and/or is superior to, marriage and that the bonding of two (necessarily clueless) people (of different sex or of the same sex) is hardly more important than — it is but one more issue for the state (for government) to solve — fixing the roads or organizing society's defense. Therefore, the raison d'état predominates, and a (married) couple, like an individual, exists to serve the raison d'état. And if the government decides to "make" individuals, say, "tolerant" — if only to make those who govern look good by making them feel like the heroic defenders of the (allegedly) downtrodden — then that is how those individuals should act…

What Jaffa states eloquently is that originally, society did not "create" matrimony; the fact of matrimony was what led to the creation of societies — and of governments. There is no mention of gay rights whatsoever in any of his books (that I remember), but the following premises will give you an idea of why details such as gay marriage cannot be seen without getting the premises correct and why, in conclusion, strong marriages (necessarily between a man and a woman) are important.
Individual rights become valuable only insofar as they result in a good society — a society in which man's moral and intellectual virtues can find their fullest measure of opportunity. There is in Jefferson none of that radical individualism that sees the rights of the individual transcending and opposing the moral demands of a good society. The opposition between the demands of society and the rights of the individual, so familiar in our time, arose only as those rights were no longer understood to be natural rights subject to the natural law.

…Self-realization was in fact the only correlate of the new atheism. As there could no longer be any distinction between man and God, which distinction is as fundamental to the Declaration of Independence as to the Bible, there could be no distinction between base and noble desires. All desires were understood to be created equal, since all desires were seen as originating in that highest of all authorities, the self-creating self.

…fathers as well as mothers usually prefer the preservation of their young to their own individual preservation. It follows from this that among humans it is the family, rather than the individual, that seeks survival…

…it is human families or their representatives, rather than "abstract" human individuals, who found or institute political communities…

…Only as one understands the priority of the partnership of male and female in the generation, nurture, and education of the young can one understand the relationship of individuality to community in the political order…
Update: Back in the 1830s, Justice Joseph Story wrote:
Marriage is … in its origin a contract of natural law … It is the parent, and not the child of society; the source of civility and a sort of seminary of the republic.
Update 2: Ed Morrissey:
Marriage has always been a forward-looking institution aimed at protecting and nurturing the next generation of children, not a love license for the adults of the present
Update 3: Canada's Precedent in Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage:
… marriage and family become mere adjuncts of the state after the removal of the de facto conditions that make the traditional family a pre-political institution in the first place. No longer is family something that, in the words of Douglas Farrow, “precedes and exceeds the state.” No longer is the family a hedge against the totalitarian aspirations of the state because no longer is the family prior to the state.
Update 4: 5 Gay Marriage Myths:
It is those who oppose same-sex marriage who are the true champions of liberty. Indeed, if gay “marriage” is ever legalized, it is likely to result in unprecedented restrictions on freedom of speech and even thought.