The Gay Marriage Decision: Right Outcome, Wrong Reasons

I’ll start this post by saying I am satisfied at the outcome of the US Supreme Court’s decision that gay marriages shall be recognised across the whole nation.  I’m a believer in equality and liberty and see no reason why homosexuals should have been treated any differently from heterosexuals.

However, I am not particularly happy about the route taken to reach this decision and the basis on which this recognition was granted.  I would have been a lot happier had the US Supreme Court said:

“The issue of marriage, or any other aspect of personal relations between individuals, is of no interest to the government aside from those few benefits related to tax, inheritance, and immigration which are available to any two individuals who register a partnership for this purpose.”

Then we could really celebrate equality, liberty, and progress.

But instead, we have a situation whereby the state generously recognised a partnership between a man and a woman (which raises the question, who the hell asked for their “recognition” in the first place?), and now – after years of intense lobbying – the government has decided it will graciously recognise homosexual partnerships as well.

I’m sorry, but which part of begging for government recognition of the way in which two people arrange their personal lives represents a victory for liberty here, even if said begging was ultimately successful?  The whole process implies that government recognition was the ultimate aim for homosexual couples, whereas I would have much preferred to see them declare that they ought to be able to do what the hell they liked without the state poking its nose in.  Getting official permission for something they should have been allowed to do by right anyway is hardly worth celebrating.

I understand that the gay marriage lobby wanted to end the discrimination homosexual couples faced compared with heterosexuals when it comes to things like taxes and inheritance, which was a genuine grievance.  This whole mess came about by the state deciding that a family headed by a man and a woman in a marriage was something worth promoting.  Given almost every society on earth for the past three thousand years has adopted this model, or close variations of it, they probably had some justification for thinking perhaps this is something they ought to encourage.  But in doing so, they inadvertently blundered into having to decide what does and does not constitute a marriage, something which would have seemed simple and straightforward at the time and never in legislators’ wildest dreams would they have thought the Supreme Court was one day going to get roped into arguments over how to define a marriage.  The lesson here is that governments should consider very carefully what aspects of life it is going to barge in on and trample over with its big hob-nailed boots before doing so, because the future is hard to predict.  This lesson has not been learned at all.

As soon as the issue of homosexual marriage came on the radar, the government should have ceased all use of the word “marriage” and refused to deal with any complaint where that word appears.  They should have substituted the term “marriage” with “recognised partnership” and thrown the definition of marriage back into the realm of private social affairs where it belongs.  The state doesn’t define what constitutes a date.  It should not try to define what constitutes a marriage.

The tax and inheritance discrimination issue could have, and should have, been dealt with by a cold, leaden, impersonal clause in the tax code that states any two adults may register a partnership for this purpose instead of the government deciding what does and doesn’t constitute a marriage and dishing out favours accordingly.  If a man and a woman can get tax breaks, and two men can get tax breaks, why not two siblings?  Or two friends?  Are sexual relations now the defining criteria of whether two people can enjoy the same financial benefits other couples enjoy?  It appears so.

By the government hanging onto the word marriage, and framing the debate around that term, the gay rights lobby has insisted that only state recognition of “gay marriage” is acceptable – perhaps with some reason, given the importance the state affixes to the term.  But at the same time the illiberal, intolerant wing of the gay rights movement – which is substantial – have used the term marriage as a stick to bash those who might prefer to define a marriage as only possible between a man and a woman.  What started as a movement to end bureaucratic discrimination has evolved into a nationwide campaign to force everyone to accept – even in their private dealings – the state-approved definition of marriage.  Quite why this is something we should be celebrating escapes me.

I found the issue over the gay wedding cake scandal to be deeply disturbing.  It was strikingly obvious that some intolerant, illiberal troublemakers had hunted around for somebody against whom they could level the charge of discrimination in order that they increase their own powers and privilege at the expense of somebody else’s liberty.  Let’s make one thing clear here: contrary to what many people implied, gays in the USA in 2015 are not facing discrimination and denial of services either in the form or degree of Southern blacks in the pre-civil rights era and nor will they ever, no matter how many bakers, bible-bashers, and motel owners gather to condemn them.  For a start, it was not anti-discrimination laws which granted Southern blacks equality, it was an end to the racist, state-imposed laws which actively discriminated against them.  Secondly, the situation faced by Southern blacks was a unique and terrible product of the country’s history, and therefore needed special laws to rectify.  At least, that’s what the United States lawmakers feel: the unique situation of African Americans is precisely what is used to justify the retention of positive discrimination policies which offer benefits denied to other minority groups.

So where it might be argued – although not necessarily endorsed by me personally – that otherwise illiberal anti-discrimination laws were and are necessary to ensure African Americans achieved equality in the USA, it is a massive stretch to claim that gays are also in need of such laws.  But that’s what has effectively been done: being privately against homosexual marriage – not partnerships, marriage – is now the equivalent of being a paid-up member of the Ku Klux Klan, and anyone expressing such opinions is to be hounded out of society by a baying mob.  Whatever happened to “we don’t need a piece of paper to prove our love”?  Now not only is that piece of paper required, but everyone else is required to put their stamp of endorsement on it.  This is progress?

The gay lobby has got what it wanted, but I fear the means in which it has achieved it may come back to haunt them.  A large part of the gay rights campaign was not about gay rights at all, but this was simply an issue on which juvenile, middle-class social justice warriors hooked their bandwagon in order to bash what they perceive to be the Establishment (but more often than not, turned out to be ordinary people trying to get on quietly with their lives).  With this new ruling by the Supreme Court, homosexuals have taken a giant stride towards being part of the establishment and an equally large stride away from being a persecuted minority worthy of the backing of a baying mob of self-appointed professional outrage-mongers.  As the last hold-outs against gay marriage recognition slowly die or get legislated away, new battlefronts will be drawn and the mob will move onto something else: in fact we’re already seeing that transsexuals have become the homosexuals de nos jours, and it remains to be seen whether gay men living otherwise normal, professional lives will enjoy immunity from the increasingly hate-driven and vitriolic modern feminist movement.

In the great game of victimhood poker, gays might have just won a big pot of chips but the game goes on, and their hand is now much weaker.  One day they might wish they’d achieved their goals via a route of basic libertarian principles and turned their backs on state coercion.

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8 thoughts on “The Gay Marriage Decision: Right Outcome, Wrong Reasons

  1. Same sex couple needed nobody’s permission to live together or separate.

    Mixed sex couples needed the State’s permission to live together, and the State’s permission to separate.

    Which were truly free? Demanding less freedom to be like others is a strange kind of equality.

    The concept of Gay marriage therefore reminds me of the goldfish in a bowl who observing people on the outside remarks to his companion that it is a good job the glass is keeping all those people in.

    And the Marriage Act is only a contract about property rights and inheritance rights which any civil contract and will can do anyway. In fact some folk enter into prenuptual property contracts with the express intent of replacing the property rights accorded by marriage with some other arrangement… making marriage a somewhat futile exercise beyond throwing a big party.

  2. A few things:

    I agree wholeheartedly on the idea of begging before one’s masters for permission to form whatever personal bond I want. I cannot put my finger on the section of the Constitution that permits or denies the government the right to approve or disapprove of this. Indeed “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is what it says.

    Second: To say that the SJW’s got what they wanted is simply not true. You are correct that intolerant rabble rousers looked for someone exhibiting “badthink” and they ran them out of business. That is only the first salvo. Next up will be churches. Mark my words, they will seek to destroy tax exempt status for any church/organization who won’t toe the line. NB: there was one woman who went to a Muslim barber and asked for a man’s haircut and was refused. This received about as much notice as you’d expect. Don’t hold your breath for gay couples to start protesting outside halal bakeries in Dearborn.

    Second: this is a huge giveaway for lawyers. Estate planning, and divorce law just increased substantially in size. Due to common law marriage, many people are now waking up to find that like it or not, they are now married to their partners. For mixed couples, it usually kicks in after 7 years. Depending on the state, gay couples who have been cohabitating that long are now considered married by the state.

    Third, if we are to agree that any two adults have the right to form unions, I’m not clear on what prevents extending that number beyond two.

  3. While agreeing with much of what you say, I have to point out that this: “the unique situation of African Americans is precisely what is used to justify the retention of positive discrimination policies which offer benefits denied to other minority groups”

    …is no longer true. Positive discrimination, AKA “affirmative action,” has been spread to many different groups since the 1970s, and shows no sign of going away. In fact, as things stand a majority of the country is eligible for such benefits (mainly because women can get them too).

  4. @ Duffy,

    To say that the SJW’s got what they wanted is simply not true.

    Indeed, I thought I made that distinction: the gay lobby – meaning those who genuinely lobbied for marriage recognition in its own right – got what they wanted; but for the SWJ fellow travelers, this was just another victory in their long march through the institutions.

    Second: this is a huge giveaway for lawyers. Estate planning, and divorce law just increased substantially in size.

    Absolutely: this is a boon for lawyers. As if we needed more work for lawyers.

    Third, if we are to agree that any two adults have the right to form unions, I’m not clear on what prevents extending that number beyond two.

    Indeed.

  5. @ Estragon,

    Thanks for your clarification…I confess, I am on weak ground when it comes to writing about affirmative action. I was basing my comments on the recent decision by an American court to reject the complaint of an Asian student who had sued for discrimination having failed to get into a university despite having better grades than an African American who was admitted. The court ruled that African Americans are granted special status due to their unique circumstances. It doesn’t surprise me at all that these “unique circumstances” have been widened to include half the country.

  6. @Tim: “Indeed, I thought I made that distinction”

    Chalk it up to poor reading comprehension rather than unclear writing.

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