I’ve written about this before; I think the bill requiring a referendum on a Marriage Amendment is…:
- …a bad idea because I don’t think it’s the sort of stuff that should be in the Constitution.
- …a great idea because it’ll undercut the DFL in the 2o12 elections. “But you’re playing politics with civil rights, Berg!” Yeah, I’m the first person that’s ever done it, too. Cry me a river. The fewer representatives and the less power the DFL has, the better our state will be. That is an unalloyed good.
- …and, finally, a good idea because it will, for the first time, force single-sex marriage activists to make a case for their cause to the people, rather than lawyers, pols and judges. If there is any merit to the idea, they’ll have to be damn good at explaining it.
That last is an important one; the gay marriage activists I’ve been talking to are really, really bad at it.
Indeed – without exception, the best,most intelligent, most articulate cases I’ve heard for defeating the amendment have come not from liberals and gay marriage proponents, but from libertarian conservatives like Rep. John Kriesel and GOP Comms guy, Craig “Captain Fishsticks” Westover. Without exception.
As to the libs? These are the arguments I’m hearing:
“Proponents Are Nothing But Bigots!”: Well, some no doubt are. For the vast majority, myself included, it’s more a matter of “you want us to fundamentally change an institution that, for all of humanity’s infinite variations, and all of the institution’s zillion permutations, has one consistent feature throughout every society on earth going back to when time was recorded verbally; they all feature a guy and a gal, sometimes at least one of each”. There may be a reason to change our minds on that; being called a “bigot”, or any names, really, isn’t one of of them.
“You advocate a Jim Crow , “separate but equal” law!”: We who advocate civil unions, but leaving the state out of “marriage” as a religious institution, have been getting this one lately.
It’s nonsense, of course; “Jim Crow” was about taking peoples’ rights away; civil unions do no such thing. “Separate but equal” was about keeping populations from intermingling; it’d be absurd to claim that civil unions do any such thing, unless they’re performed at a “Gays Only” courthouse and could be adjudicated and dissolved only by gay judges.
This one leads us to the closely-related…
“You’re all hung up on a word“: There’s a smidgen of merit,here – and at least it veers away from browbeating. But it peters out just past “smidgen”.
Most of us who oppose, on some level or another, Single Sex Marriage do so on religious grounds – but not everyone cares about religion.
Atheists can marry in our society, and most don’t bother with churches or their traditions. They get married by justices of the peace, or by “Elvis” in Vegas, or ship captains or bus drivers or whatever authority signs civil contracts. It’s “separate but equal”; it’s indistinguishable in every way from a civil union. It confers no different rights than a church marriage – or a civil union.
There is no difference.
So I’m going to suggest that both sides are “hung up on the word” pretty equally.
“We do not vote on civil liberties!”: Now, we’re getting somewhere. It’s a good principle, in principle. It’s also rubbish; we vote on civil liberties all the time. It took activists eight years of nonstop smashmouth organizing to get the human and civil right to keep and bear arms put into Minnesota law in a meaningful way – and that’s a right that’s in the Constitution. The real one, I mean.
No, the big question is, is there a “civil right” to marry at all, much less someone of the same gender? On the one hand, someone – the tribe, the church/Islam/your tribe’s witch doctor/government/whatever people believe in – has always said who could marry, and how; outside of whatever the institution was, people pretty much just shacked up otherwise. Like they do now.
On the other hand, rights are not granted by the state; they are endowed to us by our creator, whatever you believe our Creator is. And if you are a Tenther, you know that rights not specifically granted to the Federal government are supposed to be reserved to the states and The People. Individual states have always taken on the whole notion of “who can marry whom”.
And so while in principle “we don’t vote on civil rights”, we do observe laws; we are a nation ruled by laws, not men (that’s another principle), even, hypothetically, if those men are judges. And so whether you believe it’s right or nice to vote on civil liberties or not, them’s the facts. Make your case.
I’m ambivalent about the amendment,for reasons I’ve spelled out over and over on this blog. I support civil unions. And I doubt I’ll ever bother getting a state license to marry, even if I ever do marry again. I oppose real, actual hatred aimedat anyone, gays included – and I have put more on the line to back that up than most people, “progressive” or not.
And so when the DFL and the gay movement’s “best” line in support of SSM is “you’re a bigot”, “you support Jim Crow” and “you are a moron”…
…well, let’s just say they may need to work on their messaging before 2012.