Good on you, Obama

Why yes. Yes, the Defense of Marriage Act IS unconstitutional. Not everyone in this country is Christian or even religious in anyway. You don’t get to legislate that. If Christian churches don’t want to marry gay people, rock on. But gay people, as American citizens, still deserve the right to the full legal institution that we call marriage. And all this business about creating synonyms to describe the same institution just so gay people don’t get to have the word marriage. Stop it. I’m a girl who believes in the power of words, and that’s just silly. And mean spirited.

One more thing. I’m sick of politicians saying, “Of COURSE I’m against gay marriage, but  …” So go on, President Obama. Evolve those views, as The Daily Beast reports you’re doing. Say what you mean. People need to hear it.

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6 thoughts on “Good on you, Obama

  1. Your blog, but I don’t agree. Marriage is about forming kinship bonds across generations and between bloodlines, and not (or perhaps not only, and not chiefly) about a union of two people who love each other. It’s appropriate to have two institutions for two different purposes: the one aiming at generations and the unity of different kins, and the other at recognizing a bond of love that exists between two people, for a single lifetime. The two purposes are not the same; philosophically, they aren’t really even similar.

  2. Actually, we agree. The version about forming kinship bonds across generations and between bloodlines – that’s the legal kind of marriage. The one that has to with love, that’s not a legal matter. The government has no place in it. Some people have both. But gay people have a reason to want to form kinship bonds, too. Families are made in many ways, not simply through procreation. And even some heterosexual people can’t have children. Like me. You wouldn’t deny me the right to marry because of that, I assume.

    • The danger that contemporary society has for marriage is that it has focused on the happiness of the two individuals in the current generation, and not on the crucial social function of making a space in which the new generation can appear, grow, and be sustained and raised. Insofar as one is willing to commit to repealing recent innovations that have allowed people to leave marriages they find merely unhappy (as opposed to abusive or adulterous), I have said in the past that I was willing to consider a compromise. The compromise consists of making marriage more binding than it has become, in return for broadening access to it in this fashion. Short of that, the danger is that the institution will be further weakened by being redefined as ‘an institution of current happiness’ instead of ‘an institution of duty’ — meaning that future children increasingly will be left without their best and only reliable shelter.

      I realize this is a personal question for you. While I can and do love you in spite of where we disagree, I must defend the principles that seem right to me philosophically; a philosopher who does otherwise fails his most basic duty.

      An aside: I also cannot imagine that the institution of marriage, which predates the Constitution, can be set aside by a court ruling on an interpretation of the Constitution. The Constitution never granted nor sought to grant the government power to redefine the pre-existing institution of marriage. (States have power only to regulate which man may marry which woman, not to alter the basic nature of the pre-existing institution.) If the government now wants that new authority, it needs to go back to the People and ask for it through the Amendment process in Article V. As it stands, the government simply does not have that legitimate power.

  3. Actually, I can see how that argument makes me a person who left her marriage because of mere happiness. But I don’t see how any of it precludes gay people in participating in marriage of the kind you describe.

    And I love you too, big brother.

    • It doesn’t and isn’t meant to do so. It’s a compromise: if we can first agree on the purpose of the institution and shore it up on those terms, then I could support the proposed revision.

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