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The Right Side of History

New York state lawmakers voted 33-29 to legally extend marriage rights same-sex couples. Now the sixth state in America treats its citizens as more important than dogma. Good people across the state of New York won’t allow the godly to settle for bigotry and moral poverty.

God, not Albany, has settled the definition of marriage, a long time ago. -Senator Ruben Diaz, the lone Democrat opponent

Everyone that fought for this bill should be joyous that we continue to write our own history.

Here are some of my past posts on same-sex marriage. Feel free to search around the blog for others.

Homophones, Homosexuals, and the Essence of Marriage

Judge Walker: A Modern Jeremy Bentham

The Wisdom of Silence

It’s All About Tradition, Right?

(photo: Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times)

  1. June 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    If I recall correctly, Judge Walker ruled that the definition of marriage wasn’t subject to popular vote. You think he’d overturn the NY vote, too?

    • June 26, 2011 at 12:29 am

      I suspect you’re being tongue-in-cheek, but for anyone that might now grasp the difference: Walker ruled that voters couldn’t restrict the fundamental constitutional right to marriage. He didn’t argue that voters couldn’t expand rights to disenfranchised groups. His problem wasn’t with voting about marriage – it was voting to curtal rights.

      • June 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm

        I understand that, but don’t you think that actively celebrating a popular vote regarding the definition of marriage somehow evinces an acceptance of majority sentiment regarding this issue?

        It seems odd to, on the one hand, do cartwheels with excitement because the people have spoken when we like what they said, and on the other hand, whenever the folks speak otherwise, to argue that they shouldn’t have a voice in the first place.

  2. June 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I’m not celebrating the need for a vote; I’m celebrating the result of a vote. Of course, it pleases me that a majority of legislators expanded the rights of a discriminated minority. Also, I don’t recognize any conflict in believing that democracies should be allowed to extend liberty, but not curtail it below a certain threshold. Furthermore, I find it helpful to the cause of civil equality that the argument that homosexuals only shouldn’t marry because voters disapprove of it is crumbling.

    Given your idolization of democratic adjudication, does this vote satisfy you?

    • June 26, 2011 at 8:24 pm

      Like most people, I idolize democratic adjudication up to the point where the will of the majority does not conflict with the Constitution, for obviously, putting restrictions on majority rule is the whole point of a constitution.

      The disagreement sets in when it comes to determining what the Constitution actually says. In this case, what it says isn’t even particularly controversial—it says that everyone must be allowed to marry, which brings us back to the problem of defining the term “marry” in a legal sense so certain types of marriage can still be legitimately outlawed, such as Abdul marrying up to four women, which is what the Qur’an says he can do. It’s just that somehow that’s not how we’ve traditionally defined marriage in our neck of the woods here, which is why we are confident that the Constitution does not give Abdul the right to marry more than one member of his harem.

      Personally, the vote neither satisfies nor dissatisfies me. I have no dog in this hunt. My preferred solution to this matter would be a constitutional amendment which defines marriage, once and for all, as the union of two people, and that’s the end of that.

      However, I continue to be intrigued by the—in my view—inscrutable logic of folks who insist that even without such an amendment, from a constitutional perspective, marriage simply IS the union of two people rather than a man and a woman. As much as I’m fine with defining marriage thus, to me it sounds like a definition someone pulled out of a hat because they liked it. Nothing wrong with putting forth definitions we like, but that doesn’t automatically afford them the status of constitutional prescription.

      I read parts of Judge Walkers Perry v. Schwarzenegger decision, and this sentence caught my eye:

      Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage.

      Gender restrictions were “never” part of the historical core of the institution of marriage? Historically, the union of male and female was “never” part of the core definition of marriage? Historically, marriage has always been simply a union of people irrespective of sex except “during eras of gender inequality,” i.e., throughout human civilization save for a handful of countries starting in the late 20th century and, by now, all of six U.S. states?

      If the union of male and female isn’t part of the “historical core” of the institution of marriage, then I don’t know what the term “historical” is supposed to mean. Historically speaking, the concept of same-sex marriage is brand new. Not bad. Just new. Nothing “historical” about it.

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