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Look Up At the Sky and You Will Still Find it There
by Aaron Goldstein
25 November 2003Wedding

If a single court decision and a subsequent legislative amendment are all it takes to bring down marriage one must ask if it is an institution worth preserving.


It is little surprise that the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court to open the door to same sex marriages has caused much reaction and rancor.  Some have predicted that this decision will open the door to allow the legalization of polygamy, bestiality and pedophilia. Some have predicted the end of marriage itself or at the very least its meaning would be diminished.  Some have called for a constitutional amendment (Federal Marriage Amendment) that would clearly define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

To begin with, I believe it is highly unlikely that even a liberal state like Massachusetts would sanction same sex marriage. In all likelihood the General Court of Massachusetts (the official term for the state legislature) and Governor Mitt Romney will come to some sort of agreement on civil unions similar to what exists in neighboring Vermont.

While some like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist have called for a constitutional amendment so far the Bush Administration has resisted these efforts. It seems unnecessary for the federal government to get involved in this matter. During the 2000 Vice Presidential Candidates Debate, Dick Cheney argued that the definition of marriage ought be left to individual states and this is probably the most prudent course of action.

Civil unions have been legal in Vermont for three years and there has been no effort in that state or in any other to legalize polygamy, bestiality or pedophilia. It is worth remembering that polygamists (such as some Mormons in Utah albeit without the sanction of the Church of Latter Day Saints) do not support homosexuality and have not sought common cause with gay rights organizations.    Simply put there is no critical mass of public support to sanction polygamy, bestiality or pedophilia.  

Conservatism at its best treats individuals on their own merits.   Marriage (or a civil union) is only as good as the two individuals involved.  There is, of course, no guarantee of success but that is true of all human endeavors.  In America, having the right to fail is better than having no right at all.  Those who oppose civil unions or gay marriage blindly assume that the individuals joined at the altar are inherently incompetent.  This is inherently unfair.  Yes, some individuals ought not to get married be they heterosexual or homosexual.  That is a lesson people must learn for themselves even if it is the hard way. The government can encourage values but it cannot legislate morality.     

Perhaps what saddens me most is the suggestion that gay marriage or civil unions will mean the end of marriage. What this tells me is that the people who defend the sanctity of marriage really have no faith in it at all.  If a single court decision and a subsequent legislative amendment are all it takes to bring down marriage one must ask if it is an institution worth preserving.  Of course, I do believe marriage is an institution worth preserving and hope to enter into marriage some day in the future. However, one does not strengthen marriage by putting down other people who wish to live in a stable, responsible environment.  It comes through hard work, sacrifice, compromise, candor with healthy doses of laughter and merriment.

So long as people are sending out invitations, arranging flowers, buying gifts, hiring caterers, booking hotels, looking with wonder at a new ring and setting a date marriage, as we understand it, will be here to stay.  So will the sky. Look up and you will find it there.

Aaron Goldstein, a former member of the socialist New Democratic Party, writes poetry and has a chapbook titled Oysters and the Newborn Child: Melancholy and Dead Musicians. His poetry can be viewed on www.poetsforthewar.org.

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