I haven’t really said much about Proposition 8, the Constitutional amendment that passed in California except to say that strongarming old women and attacking peaceable Mormons is exactly the wrong way for gay marriage supporters to bring people to their cause. However, I will say that had I voted on the issue, I could have voted against it. I don’t see anything good coming out of carving an arbitrary exception to a rule that currently applies equally to everyone. If we say today that two gay men can marry, then we can not fairly prevent polygamy or close blood marriage or marriages of legal convenience.
Stacy McCain sums up most of my thinking on this and I find the argument darned difficult to refute.
The burden of proof in policy disputes ought always to rest with the advocates of innovation. The Burkean insight is that established law and social custom are presumed legitimate, and that revolutionaries who would overthrow the established order must first demonstrate (a) the necessity of the change to remedy existing evil and (b) some reasonable assurance that the new order would be a genuine improvement on that order which is to be destroyed. (Or, to quote Lord Acton: “Where it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.”)
The argument for same-sex marriage can’t clear this hurdle…
Gay marriage proponents haven’t tried very hard to clear it either. Most of the arguments I’ve heard are either some variation of “but we really want to and you’re mean for not letting us” or “why do you hate gay people?”, neither of which is sufficient to change my mind. Apparently, it’s not good enough to change the minds of most voters, since nearly every gay marriage ballot issue in the past four years has been decided on the side of preserving traditional marriage.
But I’m willing to be convinced. So I’ll throw this post open to anyone who wants to tackle a couple few questions I have.
1) How would you defend an exception of the rule that no two people of the same gender can marry to those of other nontraditional relationships who might want to marry as well?
2) What does gay marriage provide that some version of “civil union” does not?
3) How does gay marriage enhance the role that marriage plays in our society?
4) Why should we apply the standard of “but we really want to” to marriage but not to other laws?
Category: The Social Issues