Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Don't Push Your Luck

From today's Hartford Courant: Same Sex Couples Take Their Case To The State Supreme Court.

I've been consistent about this from the get-go. I applauded the Connecticut state legislature for being the first state to legalize civil unions through the legislature, not the courts. Legally this is the way to go about things, and socially, this is the best way to bring about acceptance and toleration. Democratic policy making produces far less outrage than policy forced upon people by the courts (witness abortion).

Next, let me say that I'm all for gay marriage, but I think too much emphasis is put on the label as opposed to the rights that come with that label. Civil unions give gay couples the same rights as married couples, just under a different name. I can understand that some people might feel strongly about having that term "marriage" attached to their relationship. But once again, it's just a name.

As far as legal challenges go, I've never really bought the legal arguments made to force gay marriage through the courts. As an equal protection argument, I don't think sexual orientation should be considered a protected class in the same way, say race is a protected class. In general, your sexual orientation only reflects your behavior- and even to the extent it reflects ingrained characteristics, why are those ingrained characteristics subject to greater protection than others- and why should gay people be protected, when polygamists are not? This is not to say that the government should be able to discriminate against gay people- it shouldn't. But the equal protection argument doesn't fly when it comes to marriage.

As far as due process goes, I think that argument fails as well. If there's a fundamental right to marry whoever you chose, once again, why wouldn't this same argument apply to polygamists.

The classic libertarian argument is that the gay marriage debate shows why the government shouldn't be in the marriage business in the first place. I can buy that, but remember, from a legal perspective, marriage is a standard form contract. It saves people the trouble of having to work everything out ahead of time- although, given today's divorce rate it would arguably save the government a great deal of money if everyone had to negotiate their marriage agreements on their own.

To conclude, I say "don't push your luck" not to be offensive, but as a real warning. I'd like to see gay marriage in all 50 states within my lifetime, but that can only happen if the people themselves accept gay marriage- and you can't force acceptance on people through the courts.


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