The Show Must Go On

|

Scrolling through the Epstein piece Nick links below and Andrew Sullivan's fisking of the president's Sunday address on the Federal Marriage Amendment, I find myself thinking that, necessary as it probably is to keep beating this drum, it's The American Prospect's Mary Lynn Jones who's cottoned on to the most immediately relevant point: The FMA is already dead in the water. Its supporters are well aware it won't pass; they're just going through the motions as a political tactic. Though maybe ten years from now when GOP legislators are scrambling to distance themselves from this farce like ex-segregationists, they can reach out to the gay community by claiming they were motivated by a love of the theater.

NEXT: Epstein on Gay Marriage

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I have mixed feeling about this whole issue, but I’ll admit the backers of the FMA are in a bind. Their problem is that it’s easy for a few judges in Massachusetts to suddenly “discover” that the folks who wrote “equal protection” in their state constitution 200+ years ago meant “same-sex marriage must be allowed.” It’s totally absurd, but all opponents can do to stop such judicial overreaching is to try to pass a Constitutional amendment. However, that brings in a whole new set of issues: federalism, the idea that the Constitution shouldn’t be amended frivolously, etc, all sorts of things conservatives and libertarians generally like. The same-sex marriage proponents have done a classic judo move: using the strength of their opponents against them. Or you might call it a political wedge ploy.

    Personally, I’m reluctant to change the definition of marriage based on what a few judges, mayors, and a small minority want. (“Civil unions” are something else.) I’ve also never heard an argument for same-sex marriage that can’t also apply to polygamy and incest marriage, so as much as I may dislike “slippery slope” arguments, I think this may be one.

  2. Julian–

    I don’t know about you but I, for one, love the theater.

  3. Julian? Did you just use “fisking” without irony?

  4. what’s the libertarian line against polygamy again?

  5. I don’t get the line about theater. Can somebody explain?

  6. Wow, thoreau… I thought your were all knowing!

    It’s a stereotype of gays that they enjoy theater attendance. (Theater, as in Shakespeare plays.)

  7. Though maybe ten years from now when GOP legislators are scrambling to distance themselves from this farce like ex-segregationists

    Or they may use their anti-gay stance to lure blacks and hispanics away from the Democratic party. Blacks and hispanics are, statistically speaking, much more homophobic than the national average, and already tend to agree with Republicans on social/religious issues.

    Personally, I’m reluctant to change the definition of marriage based on what a few judges, mayors, and a small minority want.

    It’s not changing the English definition of marriage (that’s already been changed, actually — the very fact that you can say “gay marriage” and people know what you mean demonstrates that). This is about changing the LEGAL definition of marriage. What, precisely, is wrong with changing legal definitions in order to eliminate discriminatory treatment of a minority group, particularly when the change will in no way harm, or even affect, the majority?

    I’ve also never heard an argument for same-sex marriage that can’t also apply to polygamy and incest marriage, so as much as I may dislike “slippery slope” arguments, I think this may be one.

    I’ve never heard an argument for heterosexual marriage that can’t also apply to polygamy and incest. And yet polygamy and incest aren’t legal. By the way — why is it so vital that polygamy and incest (assuming the latter involves consenting adults) be kept illegal? Yeah, it’s kind of stomach-turning, but so is the idea that Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr had sex.

  8. Papaya,
    It doesn’t matter if the folks who wrote ?equal protection? considered same sex marriage or not. Licensing and granting legal recognition for John to marry Martha but not for Jane to do the same is gender discrimination plane and simple. You couldn?t hope to find a more perfect application for the equal protection provision.

    As Andrew Sullivan ably points out, this is not the result of what ?a few judges, mayors, and a small minority want?. This is a movement to end institutionalized bigotry in exactly the same way the definition of marriage was changed to allow mixed race marriages.

    Polygamy is not part of this movement. Although we should, as a society begin a discussion on this as well. As a proponent of ?traditional? marriage I should think you are a supporter of polygamy. What makes gay marriage different from polygamy is precisely that it doesn?t change the definition of marriage. Homosexuals are simply demanding the same rights, responsibilities, and privileges, under the law, available to heterosexuals. Many of these are not extendable to a union of more than two. Power of attorney for instance, is an example of a right extended to a spouse that could not be extended to a group without further modification or elaboration of current law.

    As far as incest goes, you are correct. Incestuous unions (between adults) have the same claim to equality under the law as any other. However, this is a non-issue. Law does not inhibit incest, social norms do. There is simply not a horde of people demanding recognition of their incestuous relations. Do you actually think that there are people commit incest simply because they can?t get married?

    What is needed here is a separation of church and state. The secular institution of the state simply does not have the power to consecrate a sacred union of two souls. That is the purview of churches (who should be allowed to marry and not marry whomever they wish). The state should be restricted to defining and upholding the legal rights, responsibilities, and privileges of ?civil unions?. The same civil union contract must be made available to all adult couples.

  9. Forgot to add… In other words, drama.

  10. Thea-tah as in Tennessee Williams or Edward Albee.

  11. thoreau, it’s that old stereotype about gay men loving the theatah, especially of the musical variety.

    Maybe the future conservative Republican apologia might consist of a Gilbert and Sullivan chorus going something like this?

    “I am the very model of a modern homosexual;
    I’ve been accused as vegetable, animal, and mineral:
    I know the Village People, and I find Margaret Cho hysterical,
    From Provincetown to San Fran too, in parades provocatorial.
    I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters fashionatical;
    I understand pleats and cuffs, both the simple and Lauren-ical:
    About bisexual baseballers I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,
    With many cheerful facts about the queering of the Tommy Cruise.”

    (with only three neologisms! Top that!)

  12. I got the stereotype of gays and theater. What I didn’t get was how it was connected to former racial segregationists. Did racial segregationists all say to blacks “Oh, I absolutely love [insert stereotype associated with blacks here]” after open bigotry became less acceptable?

  13. I think we all understand the gay/theater connection. The confusing part is Southern Man’s 2:36 post.

  14. BTW, it’s my personal belief that it will be more like 30 years before anti-gay bigotry will be a political liability.

    People just change really slow, and there are too many senior citizens tipping the scale for the foreseeable future.

  15. Dan, the GOP has been trying that tact with black and Latino church leaders for years, and they’ve gotten less than nowhere.

    Apparently, while culturally-backwards members of minority grouops dislike gay people, they’re smart enought to realize that bigots are a much bigger threat to their well being.

  16. Papayse, one quibble: The clause in the Massachusetts constitution on which the court ruled had not been there 200+ years. It was a “mini-ERA” added in the ’70s. The Federal Equal Protection clause is utterly irrelevant.

  17. Sure it should be a non-issue, but its inevitability in not passing now doesn’t mean it won’t be used as a piece to be used in negotiations in something later. “Ratify the FMA or see your highway funding decline.”

  18. Dan, the GOP has been trying that tact with black and Latino church leaders for years, and they’ve gotten less than nowhere.

    Getting “less than nowhere” would mean that the Republican share of the black and Latino vote is shrinking. It isn’t; it’s growing. For whatever reason, Republicans are definitely “getting somewhere” in their attempts to appeal to black and Latino voters.

    Apparently, while culturally-backwards members of minority grouops dislike gay people, they’re smart enought to realize that bigots are a much bigger threat to their well being.

    That’s a peculiar sentence, since it parses out to “Bigots realize that bigots are a much bigger threat to their existance”. I’m also amused by your use of the term “culturally backward” — why are these people “culturally backward”? Because they’re homophobes? That would mean that blacks and hispanics are culturally backward compared to whites. I’d love to hear a Democrat try saying that in public.

    There’s an interesting article on this issue here. When black ministers can suggest that an alliance with the KKK is preferable to gay marriage, and not instantly get chased out of the church by their congregations, that’s a pretty good indication that a healthy chunk of the black community has allowed their homophobia to overcome their fear of white racists.

  19. ‘Getting “less than nowhere” would mean that the Republican share of the black and Latino vote is shrinking. It isn’t; it’s growing.’

    It’s growing much slower than the growth of those groups’ middle class and wealthy cohorts would suggest. The GOP “should” have made significant inroads among these groups, but they have not.

    ‘why are these people “culturally backward”? Because they’re homophobes?’ Yes

    “That would mean that blacks and hispanics are culturally backward compared to whites.” No, it would mean that homophobes are culturally backwards compared to sensible, decent, mature people.

    You are right that this is an interesting topic, with some strange dynamics and bedfellows asserting themselves. It’s possible that there could be a significant black Christian fundie wing of the religious right developing over the next few years. Perhaps we could see Ralph Reed talking up community development programs and environmental justice as Christian good works.

  20. Good performances make the audience appreciate you better show themselves.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.